Monday, 16 June 2014

SYNCHRONICITY

Just do it!
My point exactly (though better put)

Earlier this morning I posted a very general social-political-philosophical item on Conductive World, focused explicitly on education in England.

Within three seconds of my pressing the Post button I was messaged by Ralph Strzałkowski to draw my attention to the latest posting on his Lawyer on Wheels blog. His is an important statement and I am pleased to reproduce it here (in doing so have taken the same minor editorial liberties to suit my own personal publishing style as I did in editing his recent book) –
June 15, 2014
Impossible!  
When I moved into my new apartment one problem became apparent: the bathroom door opened inward, meaning that I couldn't get through with my wheelchair or put my washer and dryer combo behind it like I did in my old place. Solution, I figured, would be to flip the door and the hinges so it would open into the hall, like in the unit I moved from.

The maintenance technicians weren't helpful at all and offered simply to take the door out permanently. My friend Victor also decided that it needs to go. Flipping it, he announced, would be 'impossible' and I should consider putting a nice shower curtain or some beads  instead. That simply would not have worked. I don't mind the door either way when I'm by myself most of the time. But when I have friends over they need they privacy to feel comfortable when using the restroom.

And while all the male 'experts' jointly agreed that it simply couldn't be done, my friend Verity one afternoon while arranging my new apartment just grabbed a drill and took the door down. Then, when the cable guy was setting up my service in my living room she begun to drill holes for the hinges. The installer came handy because he told us how the door actually needs to go. And she accomplished in 15 minutes what others were debating for a week. Because she just went and did it. Later, an appropriate picture with her doing the impossible, and all the naysayers tag ended up on Facebook:
If I just went with what they people said I would have never known, would I? You never know until you try. That story for some reason made me think of Conductive Education and all the recent negative articles from people who never even seen it, and links to which Andrew Sutton posted few weeks ago. CE is of course the cerebral palsy approach invented in Hungary that I credit for my mobility and independence.

One of the texts concluded that, because there isn't any conclusive research, CE must be giving parents 'false hope'. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Those who read my blog on the subject know that I've been incredibly critical of the Pető Institute for doing this for many decades and not having a vast body of research. But that doesn't mean that it's ineffective. Why don't we ask the parents who saw their children walk for the first time if their hope is 'false' and if they consider it a waste of time. Besides – I think that hope is the one crucial element in bringing up a child with disability. Focus, empowerment, encouragement, positivity. Hope is of course not certainty.

I wonder what would the critics do if they had a child with cerebral palsy. Nothing, because it might not work? You won't know until you try. Quite honestly, if my parents just left me alone, because they should not get their hopes up prematurely, I'd be a little spastic ball in the corner. Any rehabilitation method might not bring the results you dream of, but doing nothing is so much worse. That's hopelessness.

Even if you don't trust the CE and its methodology, even if you think that the theories behind it are little dicey, at its most basic level you have kids exercising. Working their limbs and bodies. How can that be a bad thing? Even if you see it only as a workout, don't you go to the gym four times a week?

This very specific account of a recent experience of his in Florida cannot be bettered as concrete illustration of some of what I have been struggling to say, not just on the philosophy of can-do but on other questions too, such as the role and nature of 'Conductive Education research'.

Readers might find their own general points also nicely exemplified here – such as women get things done!

References

Strzałkowski, R. (2014) Never, Never Quit: my Conductive Education, Birmingham, Conductive Education Press

Strzałkowski, R. (2014) Impossible! Lawyer on Wheels, 15 June

Sutton, A. (2014) England: eradication of illiteracy, Conductive World, 16 June



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