Monday, August 6, 2018

My Reading Thoughts, Summaries and Connections: The Social Animal by David Brooks - Chapter 4 (Mapping)

Chapter 4 of this book follows Harold through approximately the first five years of his life and examines how his thinking evolves over the course of that time. This chapter made me think a lot of the work that I do with students with complex needs as it explores how we create mental maps, the emergence of imagination and the development of narative skills and thinking. Although language is not mentioned, I found myself wondering often how important verbal conversation is to all of these developmental steps and what might be missing for the child that does not develop speech.

I found that commentatry in this chapter often made me think of a recent webinar that Erin Sheldon delivered to our Alberta Complex Needs Community of Practice that can be found on the Resources the Complex Communication Needs Population website. It is webinar number 13 on the list of webinars. In this webinar, Erin speaks of the link between language and cognitive development and highlights the conversations she had with her older daughter in helping them to build their conceptual knowledge. She then goes on to explain educational approaches that can be used with students who have complex communication needs to ensure that they are able to assist them in developing their conceptual knowledge. 

As I read through I also found myself thinking about how important it is to facilitate the devleopment of both imagination and narrative skills. These are often skills that do not get considered very much when working with students with complex communicatoin needs. Each fall, the Alberta Council for Inclusive Education hosts a provincial conference. This past year, Kathy Howery and I did a presentation on Mental Health and Students with Complex Communication Needs. The presentation was framed around research into the lived experience of using a communication device that Kathy had done for her Ph.D. One of the key take aways from the presentation was the importance of supporting students to develop narative skills so that they are able to tell their stories. Our lives are complex and being able to understand and tell our stories helps to make sense of the complexity.  Being able to understand and tell one's story also positions one to be able to understand and advocate for their needs. As I read, I put on my "to do list" a need to go back to the CCN Alphabet posts that I started sometime ago and at least do the N post, focusing in on narrative development.

Below I have included the visuals of what jumped out at me while reading this chapter. Clicking on each graphic should make it larger and easier to see.

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