I’m Autistic, but not Autistic enough to show up on anyone’s radar. I’m stealth-Autistic. And worse, I did public school in the 70’s and 80’s. A way more barbaric time. At least as far as treatment of the Different were concerned.
Which is why it blew my fuzzy little brain that such a thing as Intensive Interaction existed.
I’ve had something a lot like it since I was a kid. Mum and I called it Head Hopping, and it was a mental exercise to attempt to achieve understanding with people who were cruel to me. Which lead to a lot of abuser-excusing, victim-blaming, and a fair share of the anxiety that I have to plough through on a daily basis. Not helped by the overarching “conform or else” attitude of the day.
For those who couldn’t be bothered following the link above, Intensive Interaction is a school of teaching where communicating with the student is not a one-way road where the student is forced to do all the work. Rather, the teacher comes over to the student’s level, and figures out a way to communicate with them on a social level.
Social communication, I have learned, takes up 70% of our communication. Verbally, non-verbally, whatever. Humans are social animals, and forcing kids who have trouble communicating to only go as far as the functional stuff is going to lead to an emotionally wrecked kid.
(Water is wet. Ice is cold. Fire is hot… etc)
This whole method of interacting with the mentally disabled was only invented during the ’80’s. Which made me wish I could invent a time machine and smack some sense into the 19th Century industrialists that invented public schooling as we know it today.
Yes, my dear readers. School as we know it was invented as a system to create replaceable cogs in the administrivia sections of corporations in the industrial revolution. Your ability to get hired depends entirely on your ability to do the accounting in your copybook without making a single error, or a blot with your fountain pen.
Computers only advanced schooling so far, so now the ability to get hired depends also on your ability to fill out a glorified punch card.
Advancements in the scholastic scene happen so slowly that both glaciers and sloths look like land speed holders by comparison. Case in point: This method is something in the ballpark of thirty years old. And it is only just now reaching special schools in Australia. It still hasn’t hit the United States, because, from what I know, they still prefer behaviour modification.
And that’s just wrong to me.
As a method of education, Intensive Interaction should be taught to every teacher in the world. Students in every school should not be treated as replaceable cogs in the gigantic Business Machine. People are individuals and therefore require individual attention.
If teachers were taught how to communicate with their students instead of at them, education as a generality might be a heck of a lot easier for everyone. We might even erase the culture of contempt for educational facilities that is rife amongst kids in public education everywhere.
The caveat, of course, is that it’s a lot of emotional effort and requires more one-on-one time than conceived of in what we think of as regular education. But never fear. I’m sure there’s billions available if we slash political wages or military spending. Hell, if more people are taught to think about another’s head-space, there might even be a reduction in the need for war.
I can dream, can’t I?
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / aqualine]