We stated the case in Part 1 that not much has changed since Randolph Bourne wrote his essay 100 years ago: The process of Schooling is a mandated framework for Education, but does not necessarily relate to how well a child is educated. The corollary to that is that much learning in a child’s world takes place outside the boundaries of formal education in a classroom setting.
While optometrists have no professional influence on schooling, and we’re conservative about how we position what we do relative to educational interventions, we have a great deal to say about vision based learning problems. We commonly note that vision therapy is not educational in nature, but in providing improved visual skills positions the child to be more responsive to educational intervention. There is now widespread agreement that learning is not solely in the province of education professionals. It is another reason why the term “perceptual learning”, as an example, has found a comfortable home in vision science and vision therapy.
In fact, it was on March 21, 2001 that the Office of Continuing Medical Education of the Jefferson Medical College teamed up with The American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Ophthalmology to present a program at Sea World in Orlando, FL, titled Why Can’t EYE Learn. The premise of the program was exactly what Optometry has said for years: that learning is a trans-disciplinary field that falls under the province of multiple professionals. I registered for the meeting as an Associate Professor, which I was at SUNY Optometry, to see how our Dr. Harold Koller, co-chair of the meeting, would position Ophthalmology’s role in the field. I detailed my experiences from that meeting here. Suffice it to say that Ophthalmology has not followed in Dr. Koller’s footsteps to become any further engaged in this arena, and continues to be only marginally involved. Our optometric colleague, Dr. Doug Stephey borrowed the phrase, and has his personal vision of Why Can’t EYE Learn. It is a very succinct overview that provides a nice reference for parents and educators.
The role of Optometry in visual issues that interfere with learning continues to be recognized by those outside of the medical field. The latest example is the new edition (2015) of Katie Johnson’s Red Flags for Elementary Teachers: Vision and Neurodevelopmental Issues that Interfere with Reading and What To Do About Them.
This is a marvelous little volume for educators as well as anyone working within the school system. I will be taking copies along with me to distribute during an in-service I am doing for OTs, SLPs, PTs, Reading Teachers, and Special Ed instructors this Friday in our local school system. You should consider obtaining at least one copy of the book, and may also wish to send it as a year-end gift of appreciation to those who can relate to the book’s contents. I should note that I have no financial interest in the book – only in helping to spread its fine message. In that regard, I was delighted to write the Foreword.