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"concrete" and "abstract" - do they mean anything?

(15 Posts)
ontosecondary Thu 13-Nov-14 12:05:51

One thing that's always bugged me is that when DS2 was little, well meaning professionals, including people at school, would tell me he couldn't do things he clearly could on the grounds that he was "still very concrete" and that the thing he couldn't do was "abstract".

Anyway, my DH explained to me recently that (i) these terms were coined by Piaget and (ii) in the world of psychology, everyone has moved beyond/on from Piaget's theories, just as they have moved on from older stuff like Freud but (iii) in teacher training courses, they still teach Piaget as bible.

Having taught in a red-brick uni last year and been handed teaching materials rooted in the 1990s for a fast-moving social sciences topic, I can well believe that teacher training moves on very slowly.

Anyway, I suppose what matters is that if I'm right, parents across the land will have well meaning bods telling them that their child's abilities don't exist because they are arising in the "wrong" order.

I know lots of people research SN on this board. Has anyone got any insight? Disclaimer: DS2's needs are now very mild so I feel a bit of a fraud posting, but I used to absolutely live here (l i n g l e if you hadn't guessed- Can we have an emoticon to say "I was special needs royalty once"? smile)

PolterGoose Thu 13-Nov-14 12:22:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Frusso Thu 13-Nov-14 12:41:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

autumnsmum Thu 13-Nov-14 12:54:01

My dd2 who is 5 and has moderate autism definitely doesn't understand abstract concepts , an example being this week she was off school
Two days due to illness , she couldn't understand the concept of illness despite having thrown up

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 13-Nov-14 13:07:45

Piaget underestimated kids, especially their ability with regards to taking another perspective. But this was all kids, not those with ASD-type thingies.

He also produced a huge amount of good stuff that makes a good case for early intervention, which is still relevant.

No surprise there then that the education system likes to praise him for the former stuff and then insist he is out of date for the latter stuff.

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 13-Nov-14 13:12:38

Anyway, to answer your question directly, I don't think they study Piaget any more at teacher training college. They don't appear to study any form of child development or pedagogy any longer. All hours are taken up in how to teach the National Curriculum and in classroom Management strategies with the assumption being that they have been developed according to latest research, but in truth it is according to latest politics and nowt else.

CPD in SEN is usually an internally run LA thing and again tends to focus on policy and how to manage the children in the cheapest placement rather than anything based on research.

The who concrete/abstract assumption thing (and many others surrounding disabilities, particularly those that are hidden) comes simply from training that only touches the surface and is aimed at a broad-brush way of claiming all staff are trained or worse 'aware'.

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 13-Nov-14 13:16:22

I think parents need to remind themselves that if they have a 7 year old with a disability, they therefore have 7 years experience of that disability, as it affects their individual child. That is more than a match for any professional who has 2 years experience, of just 6 hours a day, just 5 days a week for just 38 weeks a year or whatever.

Also, by that age, it is likely that as a parent you have attended more relevant training courses than anyone you will encounter. You will have certainly read more books, done more hours of research and trialled strategies and techniques.

Some professionals are good to ask things of, because they have seen more of a variety of the conditions and that can help you develop your plans and look at things from different angles, but ultimately, there isn't anyone as expert as you.

PolterGoose Thu 13-Nov-14 15:07:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

autumnsmum Thu 13-Nov-14 15:09:17

Tbh I feel totally clueless with my daughter, she puzzles me totally

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 13-Nov-14 15:18:26

Yes autumn, sometimes they are puzzling, but have you ever met anyone 'out there' who she doesn't puzzle?

There's still no-one better than you. A huge responsibility, but relief too, as you don't have to search too far for the answers, or at least approximate answers.

zzzzz Thu 13-Nov-14 21:03:05

To be honest ds rarely puzzles me. I find him utterly logical/sensible/reasonable. The problem is seeing why and how is relatively pointless if you don't have the resources to remediate.

I could see the EP was slightly gobsmacked when my response to how able I felt he was, "it's entirely dependent on how well I can teach him."

tempe48 Sat 15-Nov-14 16:55:19

Piaget was a cognitive psychologist. SLTs still talk about concrete and abstract language - many SLI children can understand concrete language, such as

"Do you want orange juice or apple juice?"

but struggle with temporal concepts such as

"You can do it in 5 minutes!"

or abstract language like

"What are your aspirations?"

Look up also Higher Level Language Disorder.

hattytheherald Sat 15-Nov-14 20:46:48

I don't know if teachers study theorists but I finished my NVQ Level 3 in childcare for early years just over a year ago and we had to do a large assignment on the different theorists. I also went on a training course on behavioural development and the theorists were mentioned then.
Having a conversation with the head of unit at my ds's last school when things were going wrong I mentioned a theorist and how if a child's basic needs aren't being met then they can't learn. Think she must have thought I was mad.

tempe48 Sat 15-Nov-14 21:50:34

They shouldn't have - look at Sidney Chu's pyramid of what children need to learn. IIRC, on the bottom level are the basic needs such as hunger, warmth, shelter, etc. Above that come the secondary needs, sensory needs (see Jean Ayres "How does my engine run theory) - when all the needs are met, academic learning is right at the top and it can happen.

ontosecondary Sun 16-Nov-14 17:00:58

Tempe 48,

As I recall, the things they insisted he couldn't do and was just echoing were numbers and colours. These, apparently, were "abstract".
This was bollocks.

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