Monday, June 27, 2011


Morning sun

Princess granddaughter in the enchanted forest.
A picture is worth a thousand words

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Strawberry time in Michigan

Michigan strawberries are the best-especially if you live in Michigan.  I wonder if Ohio strawberries are best if you live in Ohio and California strawberries are best if you live in California.  I am on my way to the farmers market to get strawberries right from the farmer that grew them at least that is what they told me and I believe them.  It is possible that they went down to Ohio or over to Illinois and bought strawberries and then then are telling me they grew them.  That can happen with sweet corn ya know. We currently have Florida sweetcorn available here in Michigan.  Michigan sweet corn won't be available for a while. I broke down because of a crave and bought some Florida sweet corn knowing it would be inferior to Michigan sweet corn. Well it was really good. So what do strawberries and sweet corn have to do with massage. I love metaphors and by nature I am a story teller. I tease that I can make just about anything profound.  My analogy here is going to be about continuing education. So what are the advantages of local strawberries vs strawberries from some place else?  I asked the farmer where I get strawberries where his farm is and the location just happens to be not far from away.  So I drove by.  Sure enough there really is a strawberry farm there.  I was able to actually see and confirm what I had been told.  I had asked the farmer if they used organic practices and he was honest and said no but they keep the chemicals to a minimum. I asked when the strawberries were picked and he said they pick everyday and I was pleased that i found no spoiling strawberries. When I buy strawberries from another state I do not have the ability to get up close and personal with the farmers and build a relationship. Strawberries from another state also have a longer lag time between harvest and me eating them.  I will say that I was in Pittsburgh this week and stopped by a strawberry farm and talked with the owners and bought some strawberries and have to admit that those berries were as good as the ones I get in Michigan.  Continuing education is important and the point I am making is that local educators can be as good or better than those from another area.  There is an ability to build a relationship with the educator and hold them accountable for quality.  Time and cost are really a concern and can become prohibitive for obtaining quality education to enhance your career knowledge.   Now at the farm market there were four booths selling strawberries and I checked them all out before I bought and I chose the one that could give me the most information, offered a sample and had beautiful berries. They were a little more expensive but the quality was evident. 

This weekend Health Enrichment Center had a continuing education class offered.  I was teaching and I am pretty well known. I am up to date with content so the content is fresh. The cost was reasonable and all the necessary approvals for valid information are in place. There is even inexpensive lodging available.  The course enrollment is limited so I can get around to everyone unlike a course with many participants. It canceled for lack of enrollment. I would have run on 6 but only had three. Makes me wonder.

Friday, June 17, 2011

PS- face to face teaching

Just after I posted I was able to catch a picture of the mommy and baby woodpeckers through my little office window.

Test Questions

First rose of the season from my Grandma rosebush

It is a beautiful day in Michigan. Here I sit in my little office, looking out over my growing garden as bunches of baby birds are at the feeders  trying to figure out how to get to the seed, suit, or sap.  I am writing testbank questions for textbooks. I think I have written a million multiple choice questions over the years. I would rather be outside.  I am sure that anyone who is taking a multiple choice exam for a school midterm or final, licensing or certification would rather be outside as well.  Lots of test anxiety out there. I stuggle with students as they struggle to rise above the fear of a multiple choice exam. Just like those baby birds many sit there at the computer screen trying to figure out how to get to the answer to a question.  Today a baby woodpecker ended up perching on my lawn chair on the porch looking at me right in the window. What a terrified confused look the poor thing had on its birdy face.  That look was similar to students taking multiple choice exams. There is a discussion going on among us so called experts in the field prompted by COMTA- the Commission on Massage Training and Accreditation updating the standards surrounding the deliverly of online education. Many of the massage educatonal community are like that little confused woodpecker when it comes to the new technology. Us old birds did not grow up with computers let a lone tablets and androids and blackberrys and so forth. We have to adapt however or go extinct.  The National Certification Board released more information about the new Advanced Practice exam.

 I am very supportive of this development but guess what- more multple choice exams questions this time designed to measure thinking and decision making instead of remembering definitions and locations of anatomy and the like.  There are different types of  multiple choice questions. Level 1 questions are typically based on remembering what a term is or where something is.  Level 2 questions attempt to measure if a person actually understands what they remember and can put some pieces together.  Most of the questions I have been writing  today are level 2 type.  An example of this kind of question might look like this-

A massage therapist is working with a client that is anxious at night and it interferes with sleep.  Which of the following neurotransmitters could be involved?

a. norephinephrine
b. fibroblast
 c. hypothalamus
d. acetometophin
You have to remember the definitions of all the words first and then you have to understand the relationship of the client symptom to the neurotransmitter.  Well this is easy because norephinephrine is the only neurotransmitter on the list but I had to make sure that it had some affect on the sleep wake cycle become I could use it for a wrong answer.

The Advanced  Practice Exam is being developed with the next level questions.  Level 3 questions are -figure it out and choose the best answer- questions. Those are really hard to write but this type of multiple choice question really can measure the ability to used critical thinking skills necessary in advance massage practice. Advanced does not necessary mean hard and obscure stuff to remember. Advanced means you can take the information  provided by a client or a test question and figure out and justify what is the best way to approach the situation.  This is exciting. That little baby woodpecker was a novice.  He/she(hard to tell when babies) could fly but not very well, knew the feeder was on the porch but was facing the wrong way and when finially finding the feeder the mommy and daddy birds had to show how to get the suet out. This happens every year at this suet feeder.  I am not sure if it is the same nesting pair but the parents line the babies up and show them how to eat from the suet feeder. What a mess they make and these is a lot of waste until the inexperience birds get better with practice.  Makes me thinks of new graduates from massage school.  Not everything can be taught in online delivery but any topic I would lecture or use a powerpoint or where the student was listening instead of doing can be delivered with technology. I responded to the COMTA survey and for the most part I agreed. Where I did not agree it was because the standards appeared too rigid in an attempt to make sure that the online education was done "right". Teaching is not a level 1 or 2 process.     All level three multiple choice questions assume that the text taking has been able to answer the Level 1 and level 2 questions.  If you cannon remember or understand you can't figure it out.  The standards COMTA is proposing cover  the foundational information but just a couple of them would not allow for the development of level three expertise. I have implemented the online anatomy and physiology course that accompanies Mosby's Essential Sciences for Therapeutic Massage. The school is three years into it now and just like the baby woodpeckers we got much better with practice.  We have to make room for practice however to become Advanced.  And this ends my wandering around the topics.  I willl write five more questions and the reward myself with a wander around the garden.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Meetings, Meetings, and More Meetings

There are so many organizations offering gatherings for continuing education and organizations presenting conferences and conventions that it makes my head spin.  At the end and throughout this post are some (not all of them) links for you to explore. This year I will be at The Alliance for Massage Therapy Education meeting in August and the AMTA convention in October.  I am already registered for the Third International Fascia Research Congress, Vancouver, BC March 2012 and know that I will attend the International Massage Therapy Research Conference – Presented by the Massage Therapy Foundation  April 25-27, 2013, in Boston.   I provide continuing education for state chapter meetings and other groups and schools when asked. I really like that because I prefer to teach smaller groups. I have also presented courses at many of the other gatherings but I really prefer teaching small groups.

I remember the days when I would attend all the meetings but at that time there were three or four meetings – not 14, 15 or more.  In 2010, I made the commitment to attend all ABMP and AMTA meetings along with The Massage Therapy Foundation  Meetings. I did this because there were important events occurring in the profession such as the release of the Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge ( which I fully support and the development of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE) of which Health Enrichment Center School of Massage is a founding member. I was really tired after that.

I also volunteer for a variety of committees that have the potential to positively influence the future of massage therapy. I have phone meetings, webinar meetings and face to face meetings I also have meetings about textbooks with my publisher both on the phone and in St Louis. Then there are school staff meetings, meetings that occur just because we all ended up in the same room for some reason- that happened today as a matter of fact. I love and hate meetings. It is great that there are so many options for gathering and learning and sharing. Check this link for the Massage Therapy Foundation blog. I just found out that it is discussing some of the same content as I am. . Now how cool is that?!.

However, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. So remember I just said after attending just about everything in 2010 I was really tired. Well not only was I really tired, I spent a lot of money and a lot of time to do that. I know I can’t do that every year. The travel time and costs really becomes a burden. If I were running the massage profession, I would try to support attendance with some creative scheduling.  For example, the ABMP School Issues Forum is a really great and unique meeting. The first Alliance for Massage Therapy Education conference in Utah was outstanding and I expect the same for the one coming up this August in Charleston to be the same. The AMTA also sponsored a school summit meeting this year that I did not attend so I cannot comment personally but those in attendance I spoke with said it was valuable. Wouldn’t it be a-dream-come true if all three of those meetings were scheduled in the same place and at the same time. ABMP could have Friday and Saturday, The Alliance could share Saturday and have Sunday. The AMTA could share Sunday and have Monday. I could leave on Thursday and come home on Tuesday.  The meetings could be scheduled at a cost effective venue so the food and lodging did not cost an arm and leg.  Well, I can dream. This would require a little cooperation among the groups but I can dream can’t I?

Wouldn’t it be great if the World Massage Festival, American Massage Conference and AMTA convention worked together to make sure that the yearly events were spread out with one on the west coast, one on the east coast and one some where in the middle and at different times of the year so massage therapists could gather for continuing education, idea sharing and professional support. Well there’s another dream. Who knows it could happen.  I think that the International Massage Therapy Research Conference – Presented by the Massage Therapy Foundation are the most important meetings of all and I will always make attending those meetings a priority and think you should too. By the way, I teach some continuing education classes at my school that are pretty cool and affordable as well as I have affordable lodging available. Check out the School web site for specifics.

So that’s my post.  It took a long time. I am going to wonder around in my garden for a while.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Learning to Blog

I have been following a few blogs for the past few years and finally I am going to learn how to do it.  My assistant Amy actually does all the behind the scenes work thank goodness. Right now I think the best blog out there is the one Laura Allen does.  Since I write textbooks you would think I would be able to blog.  Blogging to me is a way to provide current information that seems important at least to me and to have some fun with as well.  My hobby is backyard habitat gardening and today there were three different kinds of swallowtail butterflies in the yard. That makes me happy. My yard is small so it is a real challenge to create habitat. Everything needs specific conditions to thrive. I am also and always working on textbook revisions. Textbook writing is like my garden. It has to be tended or the information will date.  I have to consider all of the input from reviewers and stay up to date on the research and trends.  The size of a book is limited just like my garden so for every revision it is necessary to do some weeding, dig up and divide areas that are crowded, prune back and plant new stuff.  My passion is massage education and my intention is to provide materials and training for the next generation of leaders and teachers. I have my massage clients-mostly professional athletes and their families and I have my school where I have purposely downsized so I can directly teach every entry-level and advanced student. Classes are small and I expect excellence from the students because to me they are the seeds for the future. Some will sprout, some with not.  Some will thrive and others will struggle, but just like my garden- I can do the work myself and you would be surprised how much production takes place. My larger stage is the textbooks I write for Elsevier/Mosby publishing. I feel so blessed to be able to touch so many massage students, teachers and therapists through the books. I am sure as I get more experienced at this blogging process that I will expand on the textbook writing process.

I teach continuing education workshops at my school and when I am asked I will travel and present continuing education workshops.  When I do this I want small groups because in the short time available I can share as much of my thirty years of experience as possible with each participant.

Part of my garden
I am very involved in the future development of massage therapy.  To me this is the soil for the seeds I plant by doing, teaching and writing about massage.  The massage garden soil is a little rocky right now and there are lots of things attempting to grow in the same spot. There needs to be some work done in this garden for sure. However with a little transplanting, weeding, pruning, and compost I believe the massage future is beautiful.