Saturday, 22 September 2012

KNOWLEDGE IS NO LUXURY

It is a basic commodity
Where is it in your budget priorities?
A posting last night on Norman Perrin's blog –
Outcomes for people with cerebral palsy: life expectancy and quality of life. Allan Colver MA MD FRCPCH Donald Court Professor of Community Child Health, Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Sir James Spence Building, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, UK.
Abstract
Cerebral palsy has tended to be regarded as a paediatric condition, whereas it clearly is a lifelong one. The over-emphasis on childhood has meant that the implications of therapeutic, environmental and family support have not been provided or evaluated in terms of their implications for adult life; nor has study of the natural history of cerebral palsy in adulthood received the attention it deserves; and nor have the outcomes of social participation and subjective wellbeing been properly considered in adulthood.
In this review, outcomes in adulthood of life expectancy, subjective wellbeing, participation, mental health, physical health including pain, and impact on family are presented. On all these domains, adults with cerebral palsy have poorer outcomes than in the general population. It is argued that this may be due in part to misplaced interventions in childhood.
Seems to me that the implication of the two underlined statements has profound consequences for how we should be thinking about conductive upbringing and living.
I'm wondering what you think.
Knowledge costs

I too wonder what people are thinking. I suspect that, in most cases, if they think about such matters at all, the thinking involved is unlikely to be informed thinking – and may even be misinformed thinking. If it is specifically people in Conductive Education whom you refer to here, I suspect that very few in any capacity, or their institutions, will be forking out for access to this article, if they even become aware of it in the first place.

Yes, the cost of buying into academic/professional publishing is high. Even though I am an amateur and unpaid publisher myself and appreciate the economics of life, I have long been a supporter for finding ways to rejig the whole system and moving towards free-to-view on-line journals.

One of the side-effects of having to pay for access to 'the journals' is to ghettoise this branch of academic publishing within an audience almost wholly comprising a small, funded and self-referential research community. This effect may or not be important in the natural sciences. In the social sciences (amongst which I include education and no small part of rehabilitation) this is surely a contributory factor in the uncontrolled publication of so much tosh – stuff that, if open to wider view, would be laughed and slow-handclapped off the public stage.This is not of course to say that all journal publication is tosh. 

The major problem of the present situation is to restrict access to knowledge, especially perhaps for those at the work-face. The problem is particularly pronounced in a small and generally impecunious field like Conductive Education, for the large part scattered across small or very small work units. Conductive Education, for all its 'professional' aspirations, has little or no access to what could prove vital technical information (maybe, as suggested in the summary of the article considered here, 'vital' in its literal sense). Without such access the workers' aspirations to be professional may ring rather hollow – similarly, their employing institutions' aspirations to be taken seriously as would-be recipients of public funds.

Twenty footling squid

Norman concluded –
Seems to me that the implication of the two underlined statements has profound consequences for how we should be thinking about conductive upbringing and living.
I'm wondering what you think.
In response to Norman's specific and too-gently expressed thought – just $31.50, twenty footling squid to read an article in full, to be better able to make informed consideration over 'evidence-based practice', and offer up-to-date, academically authenticated advice on whether you or the opposition are shortening people's lives, making them feel awful, isolating them, affecting their sanity, hurting them, spoiling families' very existence  – pull the other one!

If CE and the other professional services are not that concerned about such matters then what are they there for?

I state this deliberately in the vernacular not just to dejargonise and bring the reality home but to force the sort of everyday cost comparisons that are merited here, a round of drinks being a common measure, a quick top-up visit to the supermarket, a modest meal out for one, a very few gallons in the tank, a short train journey for two – never mind minor luxuries.

Knowledge is no luxury. It is what one pays for when purchasing professional services, and what justifies the professional and semi-professional classes' trousering their salaries.

Give'em the money, Norman

Yes, I realise that it is a gamble to pay up on spec on the basis of an abstract, but how else might the present system work? I understand too how it might gall to be punting your £20.00 or whatever for the benefit of the shareholders of mega-corp Elsevier, but what else of the weekly and annual budgets of yourself and Paces does not nowadays go to mega-corps?

Where does knowledge ofeature on those budgets?

And behind that question, where do reading, keeping up to date, developing, feature in personal and institutional priorities?

Nothing personal here. Certainly not. On the contrary, This line of questioning should apply in some degree to everyone involved in Conductive Education. At least you and Paces recognise the problem, general and specific. I suspect that this puts you in a bit of a minority.

Reference

Colver, A. (2012) Outcomes for people with cerebral palsy: life expectancy and quality of life, Paediatrics and Child Health, vol.22, no 9, September, pp. 384-387

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