So far I’ve taken no drugs today, normally had some paracetamol by now, although I have used something called biotene for the dry mouth I always wake with. Sleeping well and hopefully beginning to get over fatigue. Am preoccupied currrently with thinking about my immediate future with regard to work. As with many things in life there is a big difference between thinking and even resolving things mentally and actually doing. But today I will be filling forms and putting things in motion and really setting forth on the next stage of my life. And yet….
And yet we still look for reasons to stay within the safety and security of what we know and yesterday I became somewhat enervated reading about something called neuroplasticity. I’ve noticed that sometimes when reading one edition of a paper there are a number of articles, columns, letters and so on that really grab my attention. Of course it could be that reading an initial piece of writing excites my brain and somehow makes it more receptive for other stuff. Anyway, I read about Norman Doidge and his work with neuroplasticity, which is a new science about the brain’s ability to self-repair and heal. It has been, and still is for many, that the brain is fixed and unregenerative so that after trauma or disease that’s it, with only the promise of very limited recovery. Well Mr Doidge has been at the forefront of showing how the brain through conscious thought and action can “rewire itself”, this has massive implications in so many areas including Parkinson’s, stroke, head injury and autism. It was mention of autism that really fired me up.
The scientist behind it all, Eric Kandel, demonstrated that “learning can ‘switch on’ genes that change neural structure”. Many studies since confirm this and show that mental activity isn’t only a product of the brain but also shapes it. Over many years of teaching my practice has evolved, often so subtly that I find it hard to describe. This has led to my having an overarching approach of getting the students to a state of feeling safe in a classroom and then using a wide range of group and individual methods to help them make greater sense and understanding of the world and us within it. Whilst I use elements of the typical teaching methods for autism such as TEACHH I do not use them anywhere near their entirety as I think this in many ways reinforces the autism. That is thinking in terms of neuroplasticity it simply develops and reinforces the neural pathways already in place within the ‘autistic brain’. What these approaches don’t do is attempt to bring those with autism out of their autistic world and into the social world all around them.
It’s tricky getting the balance right between helping them feel safe and taking them out of their autistic functioning brains which of course makes them feel unsafe, and applies to all of us, including me as I contemplate my future. So I became excited thinking how my work matches with neuroplasticity and maybe I could develop this further somehow and I shift again with how my working life might develop. Anyone out there want to fund my research?
So, after deciding I am going to get Doidge’s book, despite my resolution to read all the books by my bed before I get another, I move on to reading more in the paper and Stewart Lee, one of my comedic heroes, and how he is trying to stop so called ‘secondary ticketing’, basically ticket touting, for his shows. The tory culture secretary (this title should be capitalised but not for these tawdry tory twats) sajid javid says touts are ‘classic entrepeneurs’. No they’re not, they are kleptos, many operating on an industrial scale buying up tickets at face value then selling them on at vastly inflated prices so pricing out poorer folk and the further exploitation of our lives for profit. What an absolutely uncultured twat is our ‘culture secretary’.
And then I read John Naughton, the techie columnist, who writes about Aaron Swartz. Naughton extols a Storyville film: ‘The Internet’s Own Boy’ about Aaron, I then extol to Kate that we must watch this film. We do and this bloke Aaron we discover was an incredible human being and what he did was awe inspiring, I’m crying again writing this as we were both in tears at the end of the film. I extol all of you, if you haven’t already, get onto iplayer and watch a remarkable film about a remarkable man and decide which side you’re on. In many ways it exemplifies what I rant on about; which side are you on?
Easy manifesto point 79:
- enact the Guerrilla Open Access manifesto and stop the kleptos and bb’s continuing to thieve from and corrupt OUR world.
Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.