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Therapy for all,
This review is from: The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education (Paperback)
Pupils taught how to be happy, the front page of the Sunday Times (07/09/08) stares out at me. This American scheme backed by New Labour is to be introduced into our schools to, "immunise youngsters from getting the blues by educating them at a young age." We are also told that the programme will be shown on Tuesday at a government backed (no less) conference on "wellbeing".
We must combat this nonsense is the message in this excellent, incisive and groundbreaking book by Ecclestone and Hayes. It is a warning against the invidious creep of therapy into our education; inevitable they argue, as part of the UK therapy culture.
I agree that a dystopian modern world, where the credit crunch, sub-prime, Enron and junk bonds, failing banks and rising prices, is something to worry about. But to somehow go from this, to argue that the solution to all ills, is to increase therapy across the board in education, is crazy in the extreme. Committing as it does, the category error of getting an 'ought' from an 'is'. It is 'commonsense,' that it's all therapy now, 'innit', is the increasingly accepted chant by those that should know better.
This debate has a longish history going back through Furedi, Nolan, Lasch and beyond. The uniqueness of this book is that it encompasses the therapeutic turn in all aspects of UK education, and related fields of culture and work. This book conjures up my own personal demons. In my current research into the initial diagnosis of diabetes, the psychology component is scattered throughout with, 'well being' questionnaires, 'quality of life' statements, 'interventionist techniques' all aiming to make things better.
The book gives the first frisson of excitement since my time at the London Institute of Education with Michael Young, Basil Bernstein et al. Their look into the social construction of knowledge may have taken a wrong turn at times, but I never doubted that something new and interesting was taking place.
So, it is with this book! In eight closely argued chapters, well supported by research, they argue that therapeutic education is profoundly dangerous with the argument "...that populist orthodoxies reflect and reinforce the concept of a 'diminished self', 'low esteem' and the making of 'emotionally fragile people'. Apart from pursuing their own take on the debate, chapter eight gives a useful summary of their critics' views.
This is an important book appealing to all interested in the state of education, and why the mantra of 'education. education, education' isn't working. Simply using a soft notion of therapy to plaster over glaring gaps in funding and resources, is not the answer and is an insult to the intelligence.
If you buy only one serious book this year, this is the one to get.
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Initial post: 11 Nov 2008 10:29:21 GMT
In reply to an earlier post on 17 Nov 2009 10:57:27 GMT
T. Burkard says:
In 2009, the Commons Health Committee commented "The most damning criticisms of Government policies we have heard in this inquiry have not been of the policies themselves, but rather of the Government's approach to designing and introducing new policies which make meaningful evaluation impossible. Even where evaluation is carried out, it is usually "soft", amounting to little more than examining processes and asking those involved what they thought about them. . . Introducing unevaluated interventions into communities exposes those communities to risks, in much the same way as those participating in trials of new drugs or surgical procedures are exposed to risks."
However, the main objection to theraputic education is the inherent invasion of privacy. In infant school, teachers--who have no training or qualifications as therapists--demand that infants 'share' their emotions. They are pressured to say things that they might rather keep to themselves. The state, in the form of schools which children are forced to attend (unless their parents are wealthy), has no business tampering with children's inner selves. This is more evil than political brainwashing. If Crusty wants his (or her) children sitting around in a circle playing mind games, that is his (or her) business. But he has no right to force other people's children to conform to this pernicious invasion of personal freedom and liberty.
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