It’s been a very busy few weeks. AUT students have finished all their exams and we’re nearly done with all the marking and exam board reporting. I step down from my role as Head of Department at the end of the year, so there is a lot of tidying up to do. I’ve also just put the finishing touches on a book chapter that I’ve written for Franziska Trede and Celina McEwan’s upcoming book Educating the deliberate professional: Preparing practitioners for emerging futures, which will be published by Springer and will hopefully go to print early next year.
The book is going to ask some important questions about the past, present and future of professional practice, particularly about the need for our students and colleagues to be much more critically engaged. It is a book that spans a wide range of different health disciplines, but will have a lot to say about physiotherapy education and practice.
My chapter is titled Parrhēsia, artisans and the possibilities for deliberate practice, and re-examines the idea of the artisan practitioner, asking whether a (post)modern version of the age-old artisan might provide better opportunities for deliberate practice than our current models of ‘experts’ or ʻspecialists,’ that derive from an age of industrial capitalism.
Here’s the abstract for the chapter:In this chapter, I have used the historical figure of the artisan to develop a critique of the limits of present health care practice. Drawing on Michel Foucault’s later works on truth-telling (parrhēsia) and Hannah Arendt’s writings on action, making, behaviour and fabrication, I offer the possibility that a revised notion of the artisan practitioner may offer insights into how our practice may become more deliberate in the future. Artisan practitioners fell into decline as industrialization, capitalism privileged fabrication over ‘hand-made’ craft – a point not lost on Arendt who argued that our culture had become tainted by ‘making’ and ‘behaviourism’ at the expense of ‘action’, which had an important self-constituting function. Foucault echoed this critique, arguing that the care of the self relied on one’s ability to speak the truth to another, and that this exercise carried significance personal risks. State authorities had learnt to use truth-telling as a confessional technology to encourage docility, but Foucault argued for an aesthetics of existence that confronted and challenged the limits of this governmental and juridical response. The (post)modern artisan represents an exemplar of a practitioner that, I believe, would find favour with both Arendt and Foucault. Self-aware, critical, and comfortable with the complexity and ambiguity of health care today, the artisan is examined as a parrhēsiast and as a practitioner committed to action: the very model of the deliberate practitioner.