I just said farewell to a group of students I’ve had the honor of working with through their last two terms. It’s been so much fun working with them and helping them to master the very different yet complementary skill sets of Integrated Massage and Orthopedic Assessment.
While it’s tempting to take all the credit for being the fabulous massage instructor that I am, their thirst for knowledge and dedication to the learning process played a larger part in their success. If any of them are reading this – thank you again for the honor and pleasure. Each of you has already become a fantastic massage therapist in your own right.
I also want to credit the faculty here at ASM for the work that we have all put into restructuring the curriculum over the past year. Don’t worry, we haven’t obliterated the old curriculum in favor of something completely different. In fact, I feel like we’ve returned to a place of strength as we’ve narrowed the focus of each module so that we could delve more deeply into each subject explored.
You see, many years ago, our educational program had a core curriculum and a choice of three specialties. The Integrated Program focused on deep tissue massage and the body-mind connection. The Clinical Program also taught deep tissue, but focused more on the art of orthopedic assessment and treatment. The Wellness and Spa Therapies Program focused on spa modalities such as Shiatsu, reflexology, and the advanced hydrotherapy of spa treatments.
I mention this because I’m proud to say that our restructuring has allowed us to bring back the heart of each of these programs to create a unified whole. Instead of having to combine meditative bodywork with kinesiology, pathology, and orthopedic assessment, students can now focus on mastering the subjects of each of our previous specializations in depth. The courses even use the old names: Spa Therapies, Integrated Massage, and Orthopedics.
Today, I finished teaching my second round of the Orthopedics module. I’ve also taught the Integrated Massage module, and in both of those experiences, I have been truly amazed at how well the students have been able to develop true skill…first in one subject and then in another. The dissonance and confusion that used to come with trying to learn all of it at once is no longer there. This is what we, the faculty, wanted to accomplish. My preliminary report is that we’re well on our way.
We still have to see how this new generation of graduates will fare on their licensing exams and in their profession, but if their performance in class is any indication, I predict that they will pass with flying colors! In this class students gain the realization that they’ve been learning the methodology of sports massage throughout the orthopedics course, as the definitions of sports massage and orthopedic massage are nearly identical. (You can’t tell in the photo, but they’re all dancing just a little as they work.)