Dr Rajesh Shah, Bombay
If the participant can just clap, but cannot reproduce results, then the teacher is not a real teacher, but a magician.
Are not our seminars at times, becoming magic shows?
Even on entering the 200th year homoeopathy is still a developing discipline. Further prospering in homoeopathy is not at the level of principles, as it is firmly based on the fundamental laws, Nevertheless, the further advancement and understanding into the insights of homoeopathy is coming along, slowly. However a very small fraction of the world population favors homoeopathy as a medical therapy of prime choice.
The progression of homoeopathy in the recent years is seen through holding of multiple number of seminars, conferences and higher level teaching courses throughout the world, than ever before in the history of homoeopathy. We see every country, every state and every leading academy organising ‘continuing educational activities’ in their endaevour for further growth. It is undoubtedly, a welcome attitude. But, let us look at the other side of the coin.
Are you aware that in most of the homoeopathic seminars and conventions there are more students than the practitioners as participants ? Ideally, seminars and conferences are primarily aimed at enriching and upgrading the knowledge of the qualified, practicing doctors. Seminar, as I understand form the teaching session to augment and enhance the level of prescribing skills. They provide a platform to practitioners for sharing and exchanging experiences in treating the difficult cases and discussing practice-oriented issues. Also to learn further about means to solve queries arising in practice, to employ and exploit new methodology.
They do not (and need not) essentially discuss the primary (student) level matters.
What happens in the homoeopathy world is that half or more of the auditorium is filled up with the students who are then bombarded with the material at the practitioner’s level. So what? Some enthusiastic students may ask. In reality it could be hazardous ! Read further to know how…
The speaker at the seminar talks about chosen cases from the practice. He would pick up a case to present to the group of practitioners , say a case of psoriasis cured with Phytolacca. (Totality: disgust for business, indifference to life, strong hard mammae, psoriatic eruptions). The speaker will pick up another genuine case illustrating that Phytolacca has a strong sense of disgust for his life and business. He may show another case of Phytolacca with similar mentals, elaborating the lesser known mental picture of the remedy. The entire presentation obviously will be worthwhile for the practitioners.
The matured practitioner will go home with the expanded knowledge of Phytolacca and may use it appropriately as and when indicated. But the amateur, will go home with the dangerous feeling that he should strongly think of Phytolacca for i) sense of disgust and indifference ii) psoriasis. And the problem begins the next day when he goes to the O.P.D. and finds a case with more or less similar mentals! To him this could be nothing but Phytolacca! The enthusiastic student will least realise that in order to perceive all the said features in Phytolacca, he has to carefully rule out the remedies like Sepia, Sulphur, Phosphoric acid, Aurum Met, etc. This is the detrimental effect of the seminar on students. If you are a teacher attached with any college or a hospital, this story may be your daily experience.
I remember a class-topper student, who must have been to seminars, when he was taught by the speaker that the chief complaint and the pathology are not much important, if you get the feel of the case. The teacher must have said the thing in a better perspective, I am sure. But I had to face the plight in my O.P.D.! This bright student took the case for an hour and half and narrated the same to me describing finely the patient’s mind.
At the end , I had to very politely ask the student : What about the chief complaints ? He had not asked anything about them! This was because he had been to the seminar, the previous weekend….
Naturally, during the seminar/conference, we do not discuss the common day to day problems and common remedies. For instance, we do not have cases of cough, cold, tonsillitis, fever, measles, etc. and Ars.alb, Bryonia, Merc-sol, Kali-Bich, etc. Over the conference we talk about the S.L.E., AIDS, Ankylosing Spondylitis and Astacus, Fagopyrum, Zinc-Valeriana, etc. The students attending the seminars do not have enough experience with day to day cases and the common remedies. They straight away get exposure to the higher level material, which they have to face not in the early practice, but after some years in practice. And here we see how the gap and disparity is being generated due to our seminar based education. I call it Education Gap.
If we look outside India, this education gap is more vividly visible. Many European countries do not have full time colleges. Especially, in England and U.S.A. are part time, weekend courses, (offering only several hundred hours of teaching), the seminar form almost a part of the syllabus. Most students go to the seminars/conferences, which is much needed as per their education curriculum.
The same thing again! The key-speakers at the seminar who have come all the way from their native countries will obviously have with them problem cases to share with students/homoeopaths who have a limited experience even in treating everyday routine cases !
It has been my personal experience. When I hold seminars in Europe, I take with me real problem cases. Lately, I have realised that most participants at the seminar could highly appreciate what I did with my case, but could not help their patients better, the next day ! And I have seen this catastrophe repeating almost after every teaching seminar in Europe. Actually, the participant should be able to apply what he learns in the seminar. Instead what happens is that he cannot really do so.
As per my humble understanding, if the learner can duplicate what he sees the teacher doing, then the speaker is an effective teacher. If the participant can just clap, but cannot reproduce results, then the teacher is not a real teacher, but a magician. Are not our seminars at times, becoming magic shows ? Think…
The speakers at the seminars or conferences would like to talk about strange amazing cases. For instance, in 15 years of practice, one speaker came across only two cases of Viscum Album, and he delivered an informative talk. It was, indeed, a commendable session for the practitioner. But, the next day onwards the young homoeopaths and students “detected” so many cases of Viscum Album ! Of course , this was merely due to lack of wisdom. The education gap is responsible for it.
If we look around, we find that the professional conferences( in modern medicine) are rarely attended by the students. The students are not encouraged to give up their regular basic education and run for the higher level conferences. One of the main reasons why we have more student’s participants than practitioners, is that it is easier to attract the youth to learn novel ideas meant for those at the higher level. The students are more enthusiastic than the practitioners. Putting the same truth in different words, the homoeopaths are often apathetic towards seminars and conferences. The organisers are compelled to fill up the auditorium with students. In a recent city conference as there was a poor response for the practitioners, the students were allowed to attend the conference free of charge… This was a tragedy of the show must go on attitude….
As a member of the seminar organising body, I am aware how difficult it is to organise seminars, especially with the foreign speakers (with all the overheads). Now we have decided to keep in mind the after effects of seminar on the student delegates.
The education gap is much wider in the west. From regular contact with the practitioners and the students in Europe, I have noted a few points. I have noted that they know remedies such as Hydrogen, Lyssin, Kali-Brom, Lac-Can, etc. much better theoretically, but would not know so well Pulsatilla, Sepia, Phosphorus. A senior practitioner had attended a two days’ workshop on Carcinosin, but never used it in five years of practice, after the work-shop. One American homoeopath had experience in treating psychosis, schizophrenia and Crohn’s disease in his practice. He was doing a course in Bombay with us. I was shocked to see him almost dancing with joy, when he saw a case of septic tonsillitis !
This education gap, in my opinion, has led to such a situation in the west that they fail to tap the efficacy of our science for the treatment of day to day common problems. This gap seems to be partly responsible for non-acceptance of homoeopathy as an ‘ alternative medicine, but as a complementary medicine. In India, we would like to maintain the status of being alternative practitioners, in a long course, by not widening the gap further.
The education gap is responsible for the anticipated deterioration of the younger generation practitioners. Let us think, who is responsible for the education gap?
Dr Rajesh Shah
Editor: Homoeopathy Times
(from I/1995 issue of Homoeopathy Times)
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