Why classical myth and autism?

Why classical myth and autism?

The idea for this project started to take shape at a meeting in 2008 with a special needs teacher, who mentioned that, in her experience and those of her colleagues, autistic children often enjoy classical myth. I began to wonder why this might be the case, and whether – as a classicist who researches, and loves, classical myth – there was anything I could contribute. I started this blog to report on my progress which was often sporadic until the launch of the Warsaw-based European Research Council-funded project Our Mythical Childhood (2016-21) to trace the role of classics in children’s culture.

My key contribution to the project is an exploration of classics in autistic children’s culture, above all by producing myth-themed activities for autistic children. This blog shares my progress, often along Herculean paths.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Resource Pack 1: The Choice of Hercules - draft version for consultation and feedback

As I have mentioned in the previous two postings to this blog, my autism and classical myth project is moving to a new phase, where I seek feedback on  the activities I have designed concerning the Choice of Hercules. To help with this process it seemed a good idea to update the versions of the activities that I presented via this blog earlier in the year. I have, therefore, created a document that presents the activities along with an introduction explaining what they are seeking to achieve.

The document is here, on Academia. If you're unable to access it, do let me know and I could send you the pdf.

The picture that starts this posting is one of those discussed in the activities: please see page 10 of the pdf.

Feedback welcome via this blog, via emailing me at s.deacy@roehampton.ac.uk or via the Academic session I've started.


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Autism and classical myth pilot study: breaking the news and introducing the researcher!

This is the second consecutive posting sharing good news relevant to my autism and classical myth work. As with the previous posting, this one concerns what I am now seeking to do, namely to start taking the activities around the Choice of Hercules that I have drafted into schools, where autistic children will have an opportunity to try them out.

The news is this. The University of Roehampton has provided funds for a pilot study of the resources. The study will be conducted by Effrosyni (Effie) Kostara, who has just been appointed as the Research Assistant for the project. It is my pleasure to introduce Effie!

Effie has a background both in Classics and in Education. Her first degree is in Classical Philology from the University of Athens. She then went on to gain a master’s degree in Applied Pedagogy from Athens. She is currently a PhD candidate in Adult Education at the Hellenic Open University writing a thesis that draws on both of her fields. The title is: Teachers’ Training in the Educational Use of Ancient Greek Tragedy for the Development of Learners’ Critical Reflection.
Effie has published papers, and delivered conference presentations, on the importance of critical reflection in adult education. She also has a role in training teachers in the use of ancient drama as an educational tool. She is currently working on a project involving the connection of pedagogy with the ideas of Socrates and Aristotle.
Effie is the co-editor of a forthcoming Routledge volume on transformative learning and is the translator, into Greek, of Knud Illeris’ How we Learn. She participated in an event at Roehampton on diversity, inclusivity and classics in autumn 2017 and is the author of a report of the event, published just a few days ago in CUCD Bulletin.
Effie is deeply interested in the use of classical texts for the development of more inclusive teaching approaches. Her work includes using drama for teaching people from ‘marginalised’ groups including prisoners and addicts. She is about to start work, on Monday 16th July, in a different – though not unrelated – capacity at Roehampton as ERASMUS+ fellow to develop a module provisionally titled ‘Diversity in Ancient Greek Drama.’
I look forward to sharing further news about Effie and the pilot study!

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Autism and classical mythology: workshop for autism experts

I am writing to post some news that I have recently received. This is news that will have an impact - potentially a huge impact - on my autism and classical myth project now that I have completed the first set of resources.

(For anyone checking for the first time, I have created a set of activities based around an episode in the myth of Hercules, a figure with vast potential in relation to autism - see easier postings for details, not least those from February 2018.)

I am going to be organising an event which will take place at Roehampton later this summer or in the early autumn. It will be for autism experts and practitioners, to seek feedback on the first set of resources. I'll share more in due course, but let me mention for now that those taking part are due to include some of the experts whom I have already mentioned in this blog - and whose work has inspired what I've been trying to do!

The image that heads this posting is of Senate House, the home of the Institute of Classical Studies. This is because it is thanks to the support of the Institute of Classical Studies that the event will take place. I applied recently for Public Engagement Grant to run the event and I heard a few days ago that the application was successful.

I am planning to hold the event in the Adam Room, the location of the Choice of Hercules chimneypiece panel on which the resources are based.

I intend to refine the 'Herculean' activities in light of this collaborative involvement. Then, informed by this input from the workshop, I shall begin work on my second set of activities. These will likely be connected with a different mythological figure, Medusa, and will include activities that include mask-making and music composition. 

As with the Hercules activities, these will be published on my blog for immediate dissemination. They will also, like the Hercules activities, be piloted in schools (on this pilot activity, please watch this space!).

It's thanks to the ICS that the event can happen! I'm honoured to be able to add their logo to my blog: