Tuesday, 29 November 2016

ADULTS' VOICES – 2

Three bloggers

A couple of weeks ago I remarked upon how the world of Conductive Education does seem to ignore the views of young adults for whom conductive pedagogy and upbringing have been an integral part of childhood:


What, I was wondering, do they think about it all, about how their parents strove and what for, about the philosophy and its processes felt like to children at the receiving end as children, and – without wishing to express this in pejorative terms – I wonder about how they have felt about how they themselves were used along the way.

Quite coincidentally I think, yesterday Ralph Strzałkowski blogged some observations that feed into my concerns over this and, albeit from a parents' standpoint, so too the day before did Norman Perrin. Synchronicity?

Ralph

Ralph attended the then Pető Institute as a child. Today he is a lawyer and disability-activist in Florida. A few years ago he published collated reminiscences of his life as a child with cerebral palsy, and of the Peto Institute.

Yesterday, in response to yet another media splurge about Donald Trump's family, Ralph blogged –

...as someone who grew up with cerebral palsy, a pretty visible condition, with very loving parents who were also determined advocates. My Mom and Dad always identified with my well-being and my perspective. But my perspective and theirs was not exactly the same. I know it's very easy to confuse when you are so intertwined with someone, it feels like you may be one but you are not. The choices that they made for me were not always my choices, and the consequences they have accepted on my behalf where not always the choices I would have...

...it's easy to gang up on a ten year old boy, who may or may not have something none of us is entitled to know about.


Norman

Norman Perrin is father of a disabled young adult. He fought the good fight to established a conductive school in his city. Now he struggles for the right to a decent life and decent values in services for disabled adults. He too blogs. On Saturday, in response to a Government white paper (Work, Health and Disability: Improving Lives) Norman wrote –

its focus on ('obsession with' one might say) work as a determinant of health and more than that a definition of 'work' as a 'waged employee'. This tendency is evident throughout the White Paper. It’s all about 'finding employment', 'getting a job'... Deep down, it seems, both Right and Left, equate work with being an employee. This is such a narrow understanding of 'work' and what it is about 'work' that is conducive to good health and, perhaps, 'wellbeing'...

Now let us return to orthofunction and conductive education. There are children approaching adulthood for whom 'work-as-employment', as the goal of public policy, has little – nothing – to offer. What of these young people? How can they be included as citizens when all that public policy has to offer is not for them? Let's redefine what we mean by work, employment, occupation so that everyone can be citizens.

Then, perhaps, we can usefully and radically be discussing orthofunction in adults and lifespan conductive education.
Me
Am I stretching it in feeling that these two blog postings from Ralph and Norman are expressing aspects of the same social problem, a society that has little real idea of how it thinks of children with developmental disabilities, what it really wants for their future lives, certainly without intention of wishing to understand their own views of what is going on, either now or when they look back on it all as adults? 
Such a sweeping questions are so easy to utter. It is so easy easy to direct them to all sorts of social systems. But it is not so easy to ask where Conductive Education stands in all this.

Looking back over my own professional life I can see all sorts of questionable or even reprehensible activities that I was involved in before I come into Conductive Education. OK, I can say, but I I fight back when I twigged what I had become part of, and I did not try to hang on to a career within the state and professional systems, to become part of the problem. I got out. Out of morally and intellectually compromised psychology and special education, out of the public service  and into Conductive Education.
But looking back on what came next, I wonder how this might look to those who had been most focally affected by my activity. And what I might look like at the bar of my fellow citizens whose childhoods may have been affected by my concerned intervention on behalf of Conductive Education.
Am I alone in being concerned in this way? To use an awkward modern term, of which I do not wholly approve, what do the 'survivors' think? I think we should be told.

Conductive Education nowadays, unlike its Founder, seems to like things cosy and consensual. This, however, might not prove wholly comfortable...


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