Education’s Vision


Sadly, the least amount of vision within our profession is the place that it should be the greatest — our educational institutions.  Throughout history, in almost every walk of life, education has always been the place where visionaries came from.  Within the colleges should reside the thinkers, the visionaries who present the ideas to a profession which will then determine the practicality of those ideas.  That is the way it should work.  While some may have had vision at one time, it seems to me that only two colleges demonstrate any vision for the future of chiropractic at this time.  One on the west coast reflects the vision of chiropractic absorbed by medicine.  One in the south reflects the vision of objective straight chiropractic.  The rest reflect the visionless majority.  This coincides with the chiropractic profession as a whole (See Stretching the Profession’s Vision).  It is not surprising therefore, except that the educational institutions should be leading the profession not reflecting its vision or lack of it.

          This inadequacy on the academic level was made no more evident than in a position paper published in July 1996, by the Association of Chiropractic Colleges (ACC), which appears to represent all chiropractic colleges in the country.  In this publication, it is stated that the position has been “generated by consensus.”  That is an ugly word, what is more, it is vision destroying.  Consensus can mean either the majority was in agreement or it can also mean that everyone was in agreement.  That is a big difference, especially when talking about something with as wide a variation of thought as chiropractic.  I have no idea whether the two colleges alluded to above agreed to this position paper.  I would think not.  The fact that they are made to appear like they have is the topic of another essay and should be a concern of the objective, straight chiropractic community and to them.

          There is no doubt that consensus destroys vision.  It inhibits new thinking and moving away from the accepted model, and that model is the one that usually satisfies the lowest common denominator.  The consensus paradigm of the ACC has as the purpose of chiropractic “to optimize health.”  That is about the most vague and ambiguous purpose statement I have ever heard.  Educational institutions should be attempting to clarify the role of the chiropractor in society not make it more unclear.  The purpose of medicine is to optimize health.  They do it by treating disease.  The purpose of every alternative, health care system is to optimize health.  They do it by various means.  Even the garbage collector’s purpose is to optimize health by removing garbage that could contribute to disease.  We as chiropractors do not use drugs and surgery.  We do not collect garbage.  Saying that we “optimize health” is as purposely vague as saying we are “subluxation based.”  It allows for just about anything and everything (although the ACC does say in its “position on chiropractic” that it is “without the use of drugs or surgery.”  But it is still purposely vague to allow anything and everything just like “subluxation based.” 

          Here is the point:

                   saying what we do (subluxation based) without saying why we do it is no better than saying what our purpose is (optimize health) without stating our means to do it.  Perhaps if the two groups could get together saying “we correct subluxations to optimize health,”  we would have a good start toward clarifying what chiropractic is.  Until that time, all the position papers in the world will just keep confusing the issue.

          Unfortunately, the organization’s paradigm for chiropractic is made clear under the subheading “practice.”  It says, “The practice of chiropractic includes:

                                      [AGC1] westablishing a diagnosis”

          I may have a difficult time seeing what these educators are seeing but if our purpose is to optimize health and it necessitates establishing a diagnosis, it means we are optimizing health to treat a disease.  What other reason would you diagnose if not to treat.  If we are treating disease (to optimize health or they are identical) what is the difference between us and the medical doctor.  We don’t use drugs and surgery.  Much of medical practice does not involve drugs and surgery.  If the educators in our profession are moving us toward the position of being a drugless approach to the treatment of disease, we as a profession had better send them some strong signals that we do not see chiropractic in that light.  Perhaps their vision is obstructed by the ivy covered walls they sit behind.


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