Monday, 14 January 2013


'Used to be...' is another country

There can be something hauntingly poignant about sentences and clauses containing the words 'used to be', such as:
  • when the development and education of children with cerebral used to be the subject of research interest as about as high a level as this country could manage at the time
  • when there used to an altogether alternate psychology standing in the wings
  • when the then Spastics Society used to see fit to support somebody trying to bring the two together 
Here is one window into that world that used to be, a published research article by Ralph Burland who, as I recall, worked as a psychologist for the Spastics Society (actually, I think that he was the Societ's Principle Psychologist):

It looks so ancient in its assumptions and presumptions. And yet...

That world has now long vanished, taking with it many of its good features along with many of its bad.
This was not the greatest research study in its field, before or since, but it does represent a small but substantial tradition in English psychological investigation into the development and education of children with cerebral palsies, now passed away. I would therefore like to add another cliché to the repertoire of things to put in the Conclusions section at the end of reports:

More research should be remembered

A little more of that other country

Just how different it was can be seen from another article by Ralph Burland, published just a couple of years later in the popular-science magazine New Scientist. Things were really motoring:

New Scientist - 11 Mar 1971 - Page 564 - Google Books Result

Towards a paradigmatic cliff.


Burland, R. (1969) The development of the verbal regulation of behaviour in cerebrally palsied (multiply handicapped) children, Journal of Mental Subnormality, vol. 15, pp. 85-89

Burland, R. (1971) Help for handicapped children, New Scientist, 11 March pp. 564-565
New Scientist - 11 Mar 1971 - Page 564 - Google Books Result

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