The need to train the trainers

Jonathan Parsons, European School of Osteopathy (ESO), UK

Osteopathy and osteopathic education has evolved in the past through the dedication and passion of its founding members. The profession has self pollinated, contact with these individuals has inspired the next generation to take up the torch and continue their good work.
Osteopathy is now well established in many parts of the world and is striving for formalised recognition from their governments or states. To do this we must firstly demonstrate excellence in the training of our future osteopaths as well as the competence of those already in practice.
In the former point lies a problem. Many of us involved within training students are osteopaths and not formally qualified educators. Mostly we teach in a manner and style that we have experienced in our own education (both osteopathic and other). As evidenced by the quality of the practicing osteopaths we have not done a bad job of this. But could it be done better?
Education, like osteopathy is a science and an art. The art is communication, which as osteopaths we should be competent with. The science is another aspect. As with any science it needs to be understood, and this can only happen if one has a good comprehension of the basic principles. In education there is a wealth of pedagogic models, addressing learning from a variety of perspectives, an understanding of which will facilitate the process of learning and enable one to assist any student along their path to become an osteopath. The analogy to osteopathy is clear, we have a whole array of osteopathic approaches with which we are confident and competent that enables us to give a treatment that is specifically required by the patient. We would not dream of applying the same treatment to all patients and even less so apply a treatment that we have not fully studied, understood and applied on many occasions. So should we not apply this to our education of osteopaths?
In the past there was perhaps less opportunity to share our concepts and experiences of education and pedagogic style. However now great steps are taking place, many new teachers are undergoing education training, groups are forming across Europe (and the rest of the world) that are sharing their experience and knowledge (e.g. OSEAN).
In this short presentation I want to reiterate the essential need for formalised training of osteopaths and discuss the experiences that we at OSEAN have had in trying to establish the first steps of such a training process and what we hope to see evolve from this process in the future.