Taming the Brumbies in Your Classroom:
Horse-whispering Techniques that Work for Wild and Spirited Children
Sydney, Friday 4th May 2018
Aerial UTS Function Centre, 235 Jones St, ULTIMO
With Dr Shannon Morton, Psychiatrist
Managing children with disruptive behavioural disorders such as ADHD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, or Conduct Disorder, is one of the greatest challenges for over-stretched teachers. With the removal of corporal punishment to demand compliance with school rules out of fear, many teachers are at a loss with how to tame children who courageously defy authority, buck the system, seem un-responsive to less violent punishments, jump the fences, and trample those that attempt to “ride them” like the rest of the children, with mainstream expectations. What can educators, parents, and clinicians learn from Horse-whisperers about the “breaking in” process, when faced with free spirits who need their autonomy and resist being “told what to do”? How can we reframe challenging behaviours in a manner that promotes a more prosocial orientation, healthy self esteem formation, maintains educational engagement, provides safety for the brumby and those around them, and saves the sanity of authority figures in the process? Welcome to the pursuit of “kid-whispering” by self-identified, (mostly) reformed brumby, and now professional kid-whisperer, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Dr Shannon Morton.
This full day workshop will take teachers on a tour of the common types of brumbies in their classroom, what motivates them, how they think, and how to connect with them, using creative and pragmatic “out of the box” strategies. Learning how to adopt the “sacred rodeo clown” archetype, teachers will gain confidence in shepherding the wildest of children towards active learning, and creating meaningful collaborative partnerships. By establishing themselves as “the noble leader of the brumby herd”, educators can powerfully model how to “walk the line” of social acceptability. Through creatively pushing boundaries with play and humour, harnessing rebellion and social courage with principles of social justice and advocacy, brumbies can be tamed, whilst still maintaining their spirit as change agents, for the greater good! Buckle up, buckeroos, it’s going to be quite a ride!
Dr Shannon Morton is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist with a special interest in treating young people who naturally exist outside the usual boxes, and prefer to colour outside the lines. She is the Clinical Director of the “The Kooky Kid Clinic”, a multidisciplinary clinic with a difference in Brisbane, where humour and holistic, expressive therapies are used to celebrate differences, reframe medical symptoms and sufferings, and challenge stigmatizing stereotypes head on. She has previously worked in a Prison Mental Health Service, and spent many years working in a low socio-economic area, with a large number of children with externalizing disorders in her practice.
She has special interests in working with young people with Tourette Syndrome and associated challenges, those suffering from self harm, or those with unconventional tendencies that push institutional boundaries. She has assisted in research data collection for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) treatment of severe Tourette Syndrome, and was one of the youngest speakers invited to present at the World Congress of Biological Psychiatry in Paris, on the topic of refractory Tourette Syndrome in Adolescents. She has also acted as a medical advisor for the SBS Documentary “The Silent Epidemic” on the science of self injury, having worked with world experts on mirror neurons at the La Sapienza University in Rome during her research project on emotional mirror neurons, attachment, and self harm. She currently runs “The Healing Circle”, a self harm recovery group for teens, and “Bubble and Squeak”, a Tourette Syndrome support group.