The students call them Dr. Junior and Dr. Senior.
Dr. Jeffrey Barsch, 45, and his father, Dr. Ray Barsch, 73, both teach special education at Ventura College. Father and son complement each other in the classroom and are quick to compliment each other outside as well.
"I think he brings stature and prestige to the program," said Jeffrey Barsch of his father, an acknowledged pioneer in special education who did ground-breaking work with children before he retired from Cal State Northridge. Last fall, he began teaching part time at Ventura College.
Actually, Jeffrey Barsch arrived first, in 1976, when he was hired to develop a learning skills program, which serves students with problems in reading, math, spelling, writing and memory.
Where his father specialized in programs for children, the son works primarily with adults. "My call to fame was to transfer my father's ideas into adult-level curriculum," he said.
"We decided we'd divide the world and he'd take care of the adults and I'd take care of the children," Ray Barsch said.
In the 1960s, the elder Barsch developed a method called movigenics. "It's based on the study of movement as a foundation for learning, and it involves a perceptual-motor approach for helping children and adults to overcome their learning difficulties," Ray Barsch said. Perceptual-motor methods involve helping the senses and muscles work together.
Ray Barsch has trained special education teachers at three universities and has written five books on learning problems among children.
His son works with teen-agers and adults, many of whom have suffered head injuries.
"What's been striking for me is to discover little threads of my movigenic process" as a part of the entire Ventura College program, said Ray Barsch, noting how his theories have been applied by his son in the new computerized learning center. "He learned from me but went far beyond me," Ray Barsch said.
Dr. Marshall Raskind, Learning Disabilities Program coordinator at Cal State Northridge and a member of the Learning Disabilities Assn. of America, praised both men.
The son "looks at things from a different perspective and tunes into students," Raskind said, recalling how Ray Barsch too had always "capitalized on students' strengths and interests."