The Collaborative Learning Initiative


Oasis at the University of Birmingham -

Oasis at the University of Birmingham –

at the University of Birmingham is an annual season of teaching and learning that crosses professional boundaries to bring together training psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses – but sadly this year no occupational therapists.

It also brings together a group of people who have long standing experience of using the mental health services as a patient or as the carer of someone suffering mental health distress.

And, of course teaching staff at the university covering the disciplines mentioned, barring always that no-one teaches ‘life’s hard knocks’ so there isn’t a tutor actually paid to proliferate and skill up patients and carers. Lol.

Although: I believe that the very concept of ‘narrative medicine’ which is at the heart of the presence of we ‘service users’ and ‘carers’ in teaching positions contains a kernal of conviction that we would be very careless to ignore.

This kernal is the conviction that first hand experience stands as valid knowledge and that ignoring first hand experience is to imperil all knowledge and activity relating to anyone being ignored.

This may yet prove to be a difficult nut for the health professions and the academic professions to swallow, let alone digest. Tokenism becomes impossible once the ramifications and logical consequences of such a statement are thought through.

Yet again I have begun a talk in mind of narrating a tale and instead issuing a sermon and an advertisement. If you hadn’t noticed the advert – worry not – it’s coming up next.

The ‘shared humanness model’ provided by Tracey Holley sets parameters within which the knowledge of first hand experience may begin to be positioned within the nexus of medical theory. And social theory. And educational theory. And much else.

Human Aesthetics is my particular additional contribution to this model. It is not yet developed to a hybrid model, nor an integral model of both theories.

Human Aesthetics refer to those parts of our appearance and behaviour which we apply the greatest of detailed care to, in refining and polishing our skills of interaction.

Human interaction is seldom seen as in need of such attention.

I beg to differ. I believe it is the primary purpose of our living. After all – if we lived alone on an island like Swift’s Robinson Crusoe we’d yearn most desperately to find a Man Friday to save our bacon: I know I would. So if our very survival depends on each other and our capacity to co-operate for common good, isn’t it incumbent upon us to take the matter of social skills more seriously than we do?

The history of mental health services and the tragedies within its sagas is a trail of social skills problems. It begins with distress becoming distressing and it ends with abuse traumatising someone already distressed. It would be hilarious if there weren’t so many lost lives involved in it.

Fortunately the times they are a changing. Be the light of change and the changes will settle more quickly and easily for everyone.

1 Comment »

  1. 1
    gracelol Says:

    Reblogged this on Beneath the Throne.


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