Title

Challenging the Promotion of Independence within Teaching and Study of Occupation

Location

Room A

Start Time

19-10-2013 9:00 AM

End Time

19-10-2013 9:30 AM

Session Type

Theoretical Paper

Abstract

Independence has long been a central construct within occupational science. Yerxa et al. (1989) described occupations as self-initiated, stating “to engage in occupation is to take control” (p. 5). Furthermore, constructs such as co-occupation (Pierce, 2009) contribute to the implicit idea that occupations are typically individualistic and independent endeavors. The promotion of an ideal of independence underlies much research and theory within occupational science, and is embedded in education related to occupation. Occupational scientists have previously critiqued independence as being a highly Western notion (e.g., Asaba, 2008; Whiteford & Wilcock, 2000). However, independence is not an appropriate ideal for occupation even within Western cultures. The intent of this presentation is to challenge conceptualizations of independence within occupational science and propose improved thinking on this topic to enhance teaching and scholarship in the field. Deweyan philosophy can guide refined thinking in this area with three key points. First, the way independence is idealized within occupational science undercuts inherent connections of human life. Second, independence cannot be simply gained and maintained; our connections with others and our world are constantly changing and evolving. Third, though previous critiques have suggested interdependence as a more fitting ideal for occupation, interdependence and independence can in-fact exist in harmony within occupation. Rather than independence, Dewey’s philosophy offers two alternative concepts—freedom and growth—which are suggested as ideals for occupational science. With these constructs, occupational scientists can better understand how humans engage with their world. This argument contributes to the growing trends in occupational science toward a transactional perspective (Cutchin & Dickie, 2013). By promoting freedom and growth through occupation within teaching and scholarship, students and scholars in occupational science can more accurately come to know the human condition.

Learning Objectives:

1. Participants will consider how independence is conceptualized within teaching and scholarship about occupation.

2. Participants will engage in discussion about John Dewey’s concepts of freedom and growth and how they may be appropriate alternatives to the idealization of independence.

References

Asaba, E. (2008). Hashi-ire: Where occupation, chopsticks, and mental health intersect. Journal of Occupational Science, 15(2), 74-79.

Cutchin, M. P., & Dickie, V. A. (2013). Transactional perspectives on occupation: An Introduction and rationale. In M. P. Cutchin & V. A. Dickie (Eds.), Transactional perspectives on occupation (pp. 1-10). New York: Springer.

Pierce, D. (2009). Co-occupation: The challenges of defining concepts original to occupational science. Journal of Occupational Science, 16(3), 203-207.

Whiteford, G. E. & Wilcock, A. A. (2000). Cultural relativism: Occupation and independence reconsidered. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 67, 324-336.

Yerxa, E. J., Clark, F., Frank, G., Jackson, J., Parham, D., Pierce, D.,…& Zemke, R. (1989). An introduction to occupational science, a foundation for occupational therapy in the 21st century. In J. A. Johnson & E. J. Yerxa, (Eds.), Occupational science: The foundation for new models of practice, (pp. 1-17). Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, Inc.

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Oct 19th, 9:00 AM Oct 19th, 9:30 AM

Challenging the Promotion of Independence within Teaching and Study of Occupation

Room A

Independence has long been a central construct within occupational science. Yerxa et al. (1989) described occupations as self-initiated, stating “to engage in occupation is to take control” (p. 5). Furthermore, constructs such as co-occupation (Pierce, 2009) contribute to the implicit idea that occupations are typically individualistic and independent endeavors. The promotion of an ideal of independence underlies much research and theory within occupational science, and is embedded in education related to occupation. Occupational scientists have previously critiqued independence as being a highly Western notion (e.g., Asaba, 2008; Whiteford & Wilcock, 2000). However, independence is not an appropriate ideal for occupation even within Western cultures. The intent of this presentation is to challenge conceptualizations of independence within occupational science and propose improved thinking on this topic to enhance teaching and scholarship in the field. Deweyan philosophy can guide refined thinking in this area with three key points. First, the way independence is idealized within occupational science undercuts inherent connections of human life. Second, independence cannot be simply gained and maintained; our connections with others and our world are constantly changing and evolving. Third, though previous critiques have suggested interdependence as a more fitting ideal for occupation, interdependence and independence can in-fact exist in harmony within occupation. Rather than independence, Dewey’s philosophy offers two alternative concepts—freedom and growth—which are suggested as ideals for occupational science. With these constructs, occupational scientists can better understand how humans engage with their world. This argument contributes to the growing trends in occupational science toward a transactional perspective (Cutchin & Dickie, 2013). By promoting freedom and growth through occupation within teaching and scholarship, students and scholars in occupational science can more accurately come to know the human condition.

Learning Objectives:

1. Participants will consider how independence is conceptualized within teaching and scholarship about occupation.

2. Participants will engage in discussion about John Dewey’s concepts of freedom and growth and how they may be appropriate alternatives to the idealization of independence.