Tuesday, 30 October 2012

QUESTIONS OF EVIDENCE

Not what evidence – whose?

A director's dilemma

As someone who helped found a CE centre, and has been responsible for navigating it through the ever more difficult waters of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Norman Perrin has had to confront the question of 'evidence'. So have many others, but few of these share their thoughts and dilemmas publicly. He has recently returned to this matter on his blog:
 

 
The only Comment that Norman has received from a peer comes from the only other person-in-charge who regularly attempts to grasp this nettle, in public anyway.
 
When stuck for answer, change the question
 
This present posting on Conductive World stems from a question posed by Norman Perrin at the end of the second of the above postings –
 
...what evidence could be demanded of, might reasonably be expected about, should be produced by conductive education, to prove what works?
 
I dunno, it beats me. Norman, it always has and probably always will, and not just in respect to education that is 'conductive'. At least it does unless and until I stand right back from our society's usual givens and ask a different level of question, perhaps a more fundamental one: ''Presented to whom?'
 
Please spare me the usual suspects

Then I have to take on board that it is likely to a large part pointless to deal with the powerful echelon of decision-makers, opinion-formers, bureaucrats and 'academics' who rappropriated qustions of 'evidence' as their particular stock in trade. Why pontless? Because generation after generation of such functionaries in our country (not uniquely, for this applies, I suspect, in other Anglos-Saxon countries too) have demonstrated themselves consummately incapable of sensible governance of the national educational system. One component of their collective incompetence must be over this matter of 'evidence'.
 
Ideology
 
Why should this be? Not surely because our own 'usual suspects' in education, government and academe, are any the less intelligent, or more poorly educated, or less decent and less concerned for the future of our children and our society, than are their equivalents in, say, the Chinese world, or Central Europe for theirs, or anywhere else where education systems apparently 'work'. Rather, I suspect, one has to look at 'the culture' and, as part of this, consider its pervasive and long-standing philosophies of childhood – to be frank, its relevant ideologies.
 
This is so for the education service as a whole and, within that whole, for questions to do with education that is 'conductive' and have to do with the upbringing and schooling (and yes, the 'habilitation') of children who have motor disorders. (It also applies to a lot more than just  'education' or to that specific population).
 
Evidence for whom?
 
Who wants it? There's the rub. If 'evidence' is for the people who presently require it, in a given national context it will have to be of a particular kind. In fact, one tends to think of it in respect to CE precisely because of the agenda set by that echelon. As demonstrated by history, however, has that echelon demonstrated itself competent to deal with even its established mainstream business? Does it do so now? Has it earned any apparent specific credentials to be involved in the work or the organisation of Conductive Education, or with its experience withing thae lives of families – or indeed with motor disorders at all, by any means? Materials that Norman refers to to in his above two postings rather suggest not. If not, why does one defer to its present demands?
 
Instead of trying to answer  questions of evidence from the bottom up, on the own terms of the present hegemony, try turning the situation round, look at it from the top of the process, from the point of view of what functions that evidence might serve. What sort of 'evidence' might other echelons require?
 
For whose benefit?
 
What possibly more important matters might others be concerned about, what are more important questions to ask?
 
For whose benefit?

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