Crossing the Bridge-Emerging Understandings of 'Self' in Special School Teachers in Macau: An Australian Perspective in Theory and Practice
The presentation of a western therapeutic and creative approach to working with children with emotional and behavioural difficulties to special school teachers in Macau undertaking in-service training is described and discussed. While this student-centred, therapeutic approach represents a paradigm shift in its focus on process rather than content, and on the individual as opposed to the group, the author foregrounds her deep respect for Eastern values and her desire to create a bridge between Eastern and Western approaches. She attempts to create a metaphoric space in which the teachers could experiment with new curriculum ideas and materials that were designed to develop a greater awareness of their own individuality and that of their students. A daily reflective journal, a range of activities and feedback at the completion of the 35 hour module were used to determine what personal sense teachers made out of their new pedagogy and its value for their own development as teachers of students with special needs. The author found that her active methods of instruction were highly valued by teachers who indicated they began to see the 'problems' presented by their students differently as a result of the course.
Keywords: Therapeutic curriculum, Holistic education, Multiple intelligences, Counselling, Learning styles, Self-determination, Creativity, East and West, Mental health, Emotional difficulties, Learning difficulties
Ms Leigh Burrows
Project Officer, Support and Intervention Services, Department of Education and Children's Services, Flinders University