On distilling a three year professional debate into a children's video

I was recently asked by a colleague unfamiliar with the debate to summarize in very short form why I am so interested in the social justice issue that is  being discussed on the OT Connections forums.  After three years of debate where issues are framed and re-framed and analyzed and dissected from endless perspectives I sometimes feel overwhelmed when trying to find a basic way to explain the issues.

Fairy tales are a form of folklore and are generally constructed in a way that transmit a culture's prevailing beliefs and values.  Of course the challenge in undertaking a narrative analysis of any folk story is that by the time it has reached someone's ears there is peril in lost or misinterpreted meaning, particularly when a tale is spanning a course of time or even spanning languages.

So here I am as an amateur who has probably not read quite enough Levi-Strauss, and I am asking my readers to not get stuck on the literary form as much as I want them to get stuck on the  underpinnings of the story.  I can't be certain of the narrative form and in no way am I suggesting that there are simpletons or charlatans as they are expressed in the banal form of the video.

Let us instead focus on three critically important moral themes:

1. the culture that discourages dissenting opinions
2. the integrity and brute honesty of unrestrained and unfiltered feedback
3. the perils of pride

So please be my folk audience and re-familiarize yourself with this wonderful story.

Here is the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "The Emperor's New Clothes," and this summarizes my concerns and all of the debate about including social justice in the AOTA Code of Ethics.


Anonymous said…
Chris, The word that comes to mind after reading your summary and watching the video is brilliant! I wouldn't downplay the "simpleton" stigma either. Well done.

Rather interesting footnote that I feel obliged to add. In the course of researching another topic I found that this emperor analogy has already been used in the literature. Some of the themes for choosing the same analogy seem common but some of our respective applications are quite different. Either way, I want to offer a hat tip to Dr. Karen Hammell, although I was unaware of her work when I wrote this blog entry.

Hammel, K.W. (2012, Nov-Dec). Exposing the emperor: Meditations on credulity and occupational therapy. OT Now, 13-17.

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