Macquarie University Lecture’s 2013/2015
In 2013 & 2015 I was invited to be a guest ‘lecturer’ and deliver a tutorial for classes of Early Childhood Education students at Macquarie University in Sydney.
An important role of the early childhood teacher is reading with children and the process of engaging them in writing and illustrating stories of their own. During the Lecture’s, I was able to show students how I have developed my capacity to communicate, the importance of inclusion, how my books came about and what my writing means to me.
The informal tutorial gave me the space to open up and describe how art therapy helped me to recover from past trauma, why creating my first book was a dream come true and to show the development of my art skills to the level where I now exhibit at art galleries and other venues around Queensland.
A brief outline of how and why these presentations came to be.
Dr Kathy Cologon, Lecturer in Inclusive Education at the university’s Institute of Early Childhood, organised Peter’s visit’s with the aim of expanding her students’ thinking about the different ways to engage students in the process of developing ideas and illustrations, and expressing their own stories.
She also wanted the students to reflect and re-think some of the typical assumptions and prejudices many people tend to hold about disability, and to reflect on the messages portrayed through children’s literature.
The main theme of Peter’s presentation was ‘inclusive early childhood education’ and he enjoyed the opportunity to talk about his own journey of writing and illustrating children’s books for young children.
Handsome Man cover Peter used one of his earlier books, The Handsome Man, as an illustration as it tells the story of what it was like for him not being able to speak or communicate for 30 years, and the freedom it gave him once he discovered Facilitated Communication. The students had been asked to read this book prior to his lecture.
He also talked about what messages he believes children need to hear, and about perseverance, overcoming limitations and enlisting the help of others to achieve their dreams.
The students were very enthusiastic in the Q&A session after Peter’s slide presentation. As they watched Peter answer their diverse questions using Facilitated Communication (with the help of a facilitator) they were fascinated to learn more about how he learnt language and his capacity to communicate, especially considering he has never learnt how to read or write. They were amazed and impressed at how well he could communicate with them, through Facilitated Communication, and the depth and maturity of his vocabulary, knowledge and insight.
Dr Cologon was thrilled with the presentation and reported extremely positive feedback from the students afterwards. Here’s what one of the overseas students had to say:
Dear Peter and his mother,
Thank you very much for presenting such a moving, educational and enjoyable lecture for us today. Meeting you was such a memorable experience for me. I was very moved to see how much Peter can give to everyone who is fortunate enough to have an opportunity to encounter with him in their life. It was clear that Peter loves to meet with other people. He makes us feel as if we have known him for years. You gave us courage never to drown with the past and turn it into energy to move on with our life instead. You have proved us how important that is by presenting us how much you have accomplished, even to a degree that you probably have never even dreamt of.
Thank you again for your lecture. I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing your further accomplishment and adventures on the Internet from Japan.