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Posted by Philip on 17 May 2014, 11:27 am in , , , , , , , ,

Rethinking for scrutiny, not to be right

it's a new ideaFor about seven years I've guest lectured in the Concepts of Rehabilitation paper at AUT University. The students come from a wide range of disciplines including physiotherapy, chiropractics, nursing and occupational therapy.

I ask that students prepare by reading my journal article, Constructive Functional Diversity (CFD), which quite radically challenges the binary notion of disability and non-disability, and suggests new language for the mainly medicalised ideas behind rehab. It also challenges the focus of functional improvement in favour of considering functional value instead.

Then we have a 90-minute conversation.

The interesting thing is that, invariably, the question is raised about whether traditional rehab techniques are wrong and how CFD would work in practice. My answer is, I don't know.

I then go on to say that, essentially, I'm not advocating for a change of practice to CFD, although given the chance I'd be interested in doing some clinical research. My purpose for putting CFD out there as an idea is for students and practitioners to scrutinise their thinking as a result of considering CFD. I'm not trying to say my thinking is right, merely that it's different, perhaps radically different, and I'm wanting them to notice how considering my ideas changes theirs.

This is where the positing of new ideas often goes wrong. Edward de Bono says, "Any new idea that does not raise a howl of protest is probably not a good idea." It's also commonly observed that new ideas are rejected and ignored but resurface years later as inevitably better.

Our discomfort of departing from the status quo is the reason for this rejection, but it's also our binary thinking that leads us to fear that a new idea must be right and therefore old ideas must be wrong. Kathryn Schulz points out we are conditioned to dislike being wrong.

The challenge is to learn to see new ideas as a complement to the status quo, rather than a challenge. The question, "How does this new idea change my existing ideas?" may be a good place to start.

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