Tuesday, 10 January 2017

DEAF-BLIND TRANSFORMATIONS

Eat your heart out, Conductive Education

Liudmila Filippovna Obukhova
Liudmila Filippovna Obukhova (1938-2016)

I have just seen that Liudmila Filippovna Obukhova died in July of last year:

https://www.facebook.com/soedinenie/photos/a.1491959267725998.1073741828.1490672647854660/1765208250401097/?type=3&theatre

She had studied under P. Ya. Galperin, critically examined the work of Jean Piaget, and was a well regarded psychology academic. In the nineteen-seventies she also supervised the 'Zagorsk Four', the great experiment under the deaf-educator Aleksandr Meshcheriyakov and the philosopher Evald Il'enko, involving the upbringing of four children in the Home for the Deaf-Blind in Zagorsk (now Sergiev-Posad), taking their education right through to university level:


Special education has demonstrated transformation of the development of those with severe developmental disorders in different places and through different specific means. The work of András Pető and Mária Hári held its place in this, as a towering achievement, not least in respect to its being maintained to develop into a possibly sustainable system. But if Conductive Education seemed a high peak among transformative pedagogies, then I always thought that the work at Zagorsk was the Everest.

Marching into the 21st century

I have also just learned of the Deaf-Blind Support Fund called So-edinenie*, established in Moscow to continue the Zagorsk tradition in what looks from its website and Facebook page to be a very 21st-century way:


Keep to the point

I have also just read a newspaper report on the new centre in Moscow:

...modern medical equipment for improving vision and hearing..., computer classes and creative workshops... new integration and communication technology for the deaf and blind...communication gloves and sensor devices for the deaf and blind that will facilitate their interaction with the world.


Granted this is in a techies' publication, but this report is hopelessly off the point and misleading. Poor Meshcheriakov and Il'enko! The 'science' that transformed the development of those four young people was pedagogic science. I do hope that this newspaper item is just the product of poor journalism, and that the new centre in Moscow has not wholly lost the plot!

It is vital that the central pedagogical message be preserved and passed on, here as elsewhere.

A public, digitalised library and archive

Part of this effort is maintaining a public Archive on the pioneering and persisting work of I. A. Sokolyanskii, Meshcheriakov, Il'enko, others at Zagorsk, and the 'Four':

http://en.artscienceandsport.com/scope/science/zagorsk_library

Liudmila Filippovna was Curator of this Archive until her death.

This is a nice reminder of how great achievements in special education need preserving and transmitting into an age that might have different public visions for the development of children with developmental disorders. If not done it may be all to easy to lose something of great human value.

New book

There is a new book out to add to the already considerable, established corpus of published literature and detailed original documentation in this field –

Nowadays we honour the possibilities of the human mind!

How can we imagine life without sight and hearing, where the sun's rays are converted into uncertain glare, and the sounds of music can not break through the silence? Empty, meaningless?

Not at all! Human ability is truly unlimited. This book is a unique account of an experiment on working with deaf-blind children. Three boys and one girl from the Zagorsk home for blind and deaf children had to receive a higher education. Haw could this be – to live and struggle for the seemingly impossible when you can barely see and hear?

Read about amazing people who were able to overcome the conditions and prejudices of our society, and about their feelings and thoughts about the world and the people around them.

Reference

(2016) Выход из темноты: история одного эксперимента [The way out of the darkness: the story of an experiment], M., Coединение, 2016

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