Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

Treacherous Teaching
But then educators or teachers must surely lie at the other end of that spectrum. Not by much! Education expands our horizons and allows us to see the world through eyes other than our own, right? Some education may do that. Most, however, has the effect of radically restricting our purview on things. A couple of extreme examples are used here to illustrate the point because a few paragraphs would hardly serve to bring education to task.
In principle, a main aim and purpose of learning, for example in psychotherapy, ought to be to increase the freedom of the individual – extending the range of options of response available to him/her. But surely that’s what education also tries to do. Oh yes, is that so? Think about this.
At the point of birth, an infant’s vocal options are virtually infinite, potentially encompassing all the sounds of all the languages on earth. The function of linguistic education by parents, which is extended and refined torturously by the schools, is to restrict the range of sounds the child, and later the adult, can make in vocalizing. Linguistic education simply robs the child of potential vocal sounds as he or she is encouraged, say rather enforced, to make increasingly accurate his or her reproduction of the literate use of the language(s) he or she is taught.
Moreover, children don’t work with stereotypes. They are in awe of the world around them, and they hold no lasting enmity about any part of their world. Prejudices and hatreds, political pre-dispositions and pre-suppositions and just plain ordinary malevolence have to be taught to them. In doing so, we rob them of flexibility, freedom and the capacity to relate peacefully and healthfully to the world and those around them. [Which reminds me of that line from “South Pacific” – prejudice doesn’t come naturally, “you have to be carefully taught.” RR]
As education is practised in most societies, it is in many ways a strong counter-therapeutic agent. Of course, Felicity would argue that the same is not true of Psychology and psychologists. However, as usual, he may very well be wrong. But let’s turn to psychologists next to see how they have gone about the task of trying to avoid being anti-therapeutic agents and, like the rest of the world of (ill-) health practitioners, may have failed.

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