Friday, 23 June 2017

ONE OF THE BEST THAT I HAVE SEEN

On a number of counts


Comparisons such as in the above title are not always helpful and can even raise resentments. But surely they have  a place, and today I have been reminded of a presentation made in 2011 by conductor Éva Bugya, which is still one of the best illustrative contributions to the 'conductive literature' that I have read –


Training for classroom assistants 
Éva Bugya, conductor

Read Éva's presentation in full (in English):


With introduction and commentary:


Why 'one of the best'?


Because Eva writes a vivid, direct account of real classroom experience that shed sheds such a clear light upon Conductive Education. It is 'one the best' in a number of ways. For example:
  • as an account of the holistic (ecological) nature of Conductive Education
  • as a report of conductive inclusion in a school
  • as indication of what a 'conductive assistant' can achieve (written by a conductor who had once actually worked as a classroom assistant herself)
  • as example of potential benefits from conductive upbringing as much as direct pedagogy...
  • as reminder that upbringing is a matter for schools as much as for families
  • as encouragement to others
How much more accumulated experience and analysis is out there in the world of Conductive Education, unreported and therefore unshared? And what other treasures await only a little personal encouragement, mentoring and editing to transform the world's image and understanding of what Conductive Education really is and what it could contribute to the human good?


Read Évi's presentation in full:


With introduction and commentary:

Thursday, 22 June 2017

BREXIT – THE GAME'S AFOOT

DAY 1 of negotiation has direct implications for CE


The Brexit negotiations opened today in Brussels. High on today's agenda was statement of the British position on EU nationals already living and working in the UK.
  • EU citizens legally resident in the UK will be entitled to the same rights as British citizens after Brexit
  • A new 'UK settled status' will grant those who have spent five years in the UK equal rights on healthcare, education, benefits and pensions
  • A cut-off date for obtaining 'UK settled status' is yet to be announced
  • EU citizens who settle in the UK before Brexit will get a grace period to reach the five-year minimum for residency – but only if they arrive before the cut-off date
  • There are categories of people whose status may remain unclear, such as children, carers, students and Irish citizens.
  • (Ireland has a special relationship with the UK, including a Common Travel Area
  • 1.2 million Britons live in EU countries
  • An estimated 3.2 million EU citizens live in the UK
  • The UK's exit deadline is 30 March 2019 
Mrs May said that the UK 'does not want anyone in the UK to have to leave, nor does it want families to be split up'


Conductive Education?
  • There are no figures for how many conductors with EU citizenship live and work in the UK
  • It is not known what proportion these EU conductors are within the UK's conductor workforce
  • EU conductors in the UK largely or entirely have Hungarian citizenship
  • There is possible only one conductor with UK citizenship living and working in the EU
  • These disproportionate figures will likely persist
We shall doubtless meet more as matters progress.

WHAT HAS CHANGED IN SEVEN YEARS?

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose


This day in 2010 Rony Schenker wrote –

Why is the conductive community so mute?
An open letter to you all


Dear colleagues and friends,

As I do not run my own blog, I've asked Andrew's permission to express and share my deep concern in public, using this stage. Obviously, he has agreed.

How many of us read this blog, and the others that have to do with Conductive Education? I do not know! I hope, however, that there are more readers than the 'usual suspects' (Andrew's term) who comment from time to time. These are so very, very few. These active participants however, reflect only their own interpretations and insight, and do not represent the rich and varied professional world and experience of Conductive Education. I believe ( and I know many), that among conductors and others involved in the conductive community, there are intelligent, assertive, and knowledgeable people whose vision and opinion I respect and cherish. They are Israelis, Hungarians, British, Germans, Swedes, Norwegians, Australians Chinese, and others. I meet them in conferences, I read their papers, we correspond, I work closely with them, and I learn. Non-stop learning. I do not always agree with what they say or do, neither they with what I do or think. Yet, we talk to each other, we argue, each of us may defend our own thesis, but we do communicate. We change ideas, we react to each other, we influence and we are influenced, and we constantly gain new understandings. We change. We develop!

So why am I concerned? Running a blog is a responsibility and a time-consumer. Ask the bloggers themselves. But writing a comment on a blog demands nothing but a few minutes' concentration, putting down in writing what you felt from reading the blog, a stream of thought, or just a remark. You need not think too deeply or chose your words selectively. This is the privilege of communication through blogs. It may be a spontaneous reaction, the shorter-the better. Even the language should not be a real barrier, as you can be helped by the Babylon or the Google translator.

I am concerned because the conductive community, is actually so small that, if we do not 'use' each other, we will either vanish or sink in our own, limited puddles.

It is much less effort to write a comment than to prepare a presentation for a conference, or even write an abstract. It is cheaper, but it is still valuable!!! You may be heard publicly and receive feedback, and tell the world what you do, or what you think, and learn from other people's experiences. Isn't this quite an attractive deal? (No Duty Free on the way, I know, but still…).

Ida, Yuval, Naomi, Avi, Anna, Eva, Julia, Lisa, Mel, Eszter, Lena, Ivan, Kriszti, Zsofi … the list is long… so very long… Where are you??? We want to hear you…

I recall an advertisement by the Spastics Society on the London Tube in the mid-80s, showing a child with c.p., with a head pointer and a computer. The subtitle was: 'The fact that I do not speak does not mean I have nothing to say'.


Rony's open letter was published here on Conductive World on 22 June 2010. It attracted just three immediate responses. The posting has of course remained on line, and in the last seven years it has been accessed 247 times. As far as I know the topic and its serious implications has not become and issue among those with a concern for Conductive Education and what happening received little of no (usually no) shared public analysis of the sort that Rony implied.

Over that time much water has flowed under many bridges, both personal and professional. Careers, institutions, have come to their close. Families and their concerns, however, are eternal. Around them, in the world as a whole, everything may seems to have changed – but in so many vital aspects of life everything seem to remain the same. Here is one of them: Conductive Education is schtum.

One can understand why conductors in Hungary keep their heads down, more so every years perhaps. But why conductors elsewhere? Why the 'professionals' and academics? Why non-conductors, especially parents who were once such vocal drivers for change? Why?
Why will one be lucky to see much public response to this posting?

Reference

Schencker, R. (2010) Why is the conductive community so mute??? An open letter to you all, Conductive World, 22 June


(Along with comments from Eszter Horváth Tóthné, (Sweden), Ida Igra (Israel) and Orit Davidovich (Israel)




Monday, 19 June 2017

MARIA HARI: WHICH WAY SHOULD I GO?

Where do you want to go?
Then you know which way

The 320 ft (98 m) Clock Tower (also known as: Saint Stephen's Tower)housing Big Ben is one of the features that makes the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) such a familiar landmark. The bell (Big Ben) chimes on the hour, and the tower is home to the largest clock face in the country. The ...

A different kind of lesson from history

The direction that Conductive Education takes, now, in the past and in the future, depends on a thousand little decisions, made for a thousand advantages, to meet a thousand individual purposes. This is nothing unique to Conductive Education. Nor is it unusual for such individuals decisions, advantages and purposes to remain hidden, unstated.

It is hardly surprising therefore that, publicly at least, fundamental questions of principle appear not to have featured in the current pivotal decision about the future direction of Conductive Education in Hungary – especially so as Conductive Education carries with it so few intelligible principles, theoretical statements of its own essence from those entitled to have their voice heard.

András Pető's might have been one such voice. Unfortunately, he bequeathed so very little to his followers in the way of an elaborated theoretical statement.

Another such voice is Mária Hári's.

Mária Hári

'What would András Pető and Mária Hári have thought of the incorporation of the Pető Institute into the Semmelweis Medical University'? There can of course be no meaningful answer to this question. The best one can adduce as a pointer is what one of them, Mária Hári, Hungary's (and the Pető Institute's) greatest articulator, considered relevant to determining the direction of Conductive Education at the highest level.

In the United Kingdom twenty-nine years ago, concerted political action had brought Conductive Education to the forefront of public and media attention. Which way would it go? Resolution of this question would be a major factor in the future development Conductive Education both in that country and in the wider Western world

As part of the coordinated campaign on behalf of Conductive Education Mária Hári came to the United Kingdom where on 5 July 1988 she spoke to Members of Parliament and Lords of the All-Party Parliamentary Disablement Group at the Palace of Westminster. Her aim was to brief the Committee on what Conductive Education was about. She rose to the occasion and, speaking ex tempore from notes, gave the most succinct and accessible account of this that I ever heard from her. Here is some of what she said
Pető worked during the twenties and thirties with chronically disabled adults. He developed a whole-life guiding [conductive] system that was indifferent to the particular chronic illness, and the first step of which was to stop being passive, lying about and begin to lead an active life. What is new in Conductive Education is that we work this way with central nervous system dysfunction
Previously one treated such people as someone who is ill, but a treatment is a passive thing. It is always essential to see the person behind the symptoms, most especially so with central nervous system disturbance as the central nervous system itself needs integrating. If one treats the separate parts separately, then where is the coordination?
We teach and educate the integrating mind that has to lead every action. It is not a treatment – we teach. The person learns how to live, not just move or function or perform but to solve problems… Our aim is not to teach functions, muscle movements, but to educate how to live, to solve problems.
The person is active and wants to solve problems and structure his own method. The teacher leads, catalyses, helps the activity, ensures success and a good direction.
What is learned from eight o'clock to nine o'clock is used throughout the day. Education extends throughout the whole day. The goal of Occupation A then becomes the means of Occupation B.
It is like in Alice in Wonderland. If one asks ‘Which way should I go?’ then one answers: ‘Where do you want to go? Then you know which way.’
The goal is not to teach functions or movements. It is the person and the personality that is the most essential and everything else is included in this.
When one learns a function or activity the question is not what but how to do it. One does not learn a mechanical, physical function – it is also a cognitive function, in which emotional and moral factors are very important.
Therefore it is active learning, education. Children only learn if they want to. The role of the conductor is to make joy, harmony, interest, everything that is a precondition of active learning.
These [task series] are not exercises but models of how to solve problems. One gets feedback only from the outcome of an action. If one cannot achieve the whole action then, to learn coordination, one must provide little goals and make them interesting.
(Extracted from a presentation to the UK Parliament's All-Party Disablement Group, London, Palace of Westminster, 5 July 1988)
Important: terminology
Integrating. This is used here in the original sense of combining parts to make a unified whole.

Co-ordination.
Mária Hári did also use this in the sense of motor co-ordination but more usually with respect to creation of a harmonious, unified developmental process.

These two senses, and how they relate to each other, should be clear from the above text.
Previous iterations
This extract has already been published here on Conductive World.. A good thing cannot be said too often, and anyway many present readers may have missed it previously.

Sutton, A. (2009) Mária Hári at the Palace of Westminster: some of what she said, Conductive World, 31 October

Sutton, A. (2011) Mária Hári in her prime. A teacher! First, last, always! Conductive World, 7 October
http://www.conductive-world.info/2011/10/maria-hari-in-her-prime.html

Sutton, A. (2016) Play it Again, Mária: great leap forward, therapy to pedagogy, Conductive World, 17 June
http://www.conductive-world.info/2016/06/greatleap-forward-therapy-to-pedagogy.html

Saturday, 17 June 2017

MERGER IN BUDAPEST

A lesson from history
With only a few weeks to go till the incorporation of the present PAF (the former Pető Institute) into the Semmelweiss Medical University, minds are doubtless turning to how things might change, how things might be different, how it will all look.

As yet, of course, it is too early to tell, though after 1 August, however things change when the new arrangement comes into force, it seems reasonable to assume that they will change even more in the years that follow. Indeed, as those who have known organisational mergers in other contexts will testify, it takes a remarkably short time for old ways and former people, to pass out of immediate experience and, well, be forgotten.

A comparison

There is possibly an interesting precedent for what is now happening with respect to the the PAF and the Semmelweis – what has already happened in Budapest with the Gusztáv Bárczi College of Special Education and ELTE (the Eötvös Loránd University).

The Gusztáv Bárczi College, like the Pető Institute, had a strong, eponymous identity – but also a wide-ranging presence in the Hungarian education system. Then in 2000 it followed a common precedent within higher education in being incorporated into a large established university..

The former special-education college was incorporated into ELTE as a kar (a 'chair' or faculty), and maintains an eponymous identity as the Bárczi Gusztáv Gyógypedagógiai Kar (the Gusztáv Barcsi Faculty of Special Education). This is housed in a spanking new building, it has its own Rector* within the wider structure of the university, and its own library.

Perhaps its webpages might offer something of how a future 'Andras Peto Conductive Education Faculty' might appear to the world, both in image and in content.

In Hungarian: Bárczi Gusztáv Gyógypedagógiai Kar:

A shorter English-language summary of this:

Time will tell. For the moment Budapest will now have two major universities with faculties dedicated to special education/ rehabilitation. In the past, the Gusztáv Bárczi and the Peto Institute held each other very much at arms' length. For the immediate future they will kikkely continue to develop in some respects apart, not just under separate universities but within separate academic/professional traditions. Certain broader academic traditions, however, they will now share, within which their development might prove more parallel than hitherto – or even convergent.

It is worth noting by the way that the Gusztáv Bárczi's specialist departments include one that trains special-education students to work with children with physical disabilities (and that Hungarian education has an established system for such children quite separate from that of the PAI/PAF.

Entanglement with national (and nationalistic) politics and with matters financial have obscured the fact that the Pető Institute exists in a world where shape-shifting, mergers and other significant institutional changes have become commonplace features of higher-educational life.

We are now where we are and changes due to come into force on 1 August are likely to normalise the future development of the institution that retains the name 'Peto'. Whether this will be for the future benefit of Conductive Education as a whole... well, that will be to be seen, in a world that will be very different from before.

One earlier posting on this merger


__

* The present Rector is Peter Zászkaliczky. In the context of the wider theme of this present posting on Conductive World, you might find this interesting:

Friday, 16 June 2017

TODAY IS 16 JUNE

Happy Bloomsday

June 16: How do you celebrate Bloomsday, and James Joyce the European, in the age of Brexit?

I had a Gorgonzola sandwich for breakfast this morning.

A remarkable coincidence*, because I do not often have such a thing – and only this afternoon have I been reminded (by Harvard University, no less) that today, 16 June, is Bloomsday. and that this is being celebrated around the world:


Leopold Bloom was born in Szombathély in 1896. 

Leopold Bloom, James Joyce's creator, mocked unthinking nationalism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry:

Bloom is painted... as a peacemaker and mediator; he is in favour of 'moderation' and capable of seeing things the 'other way round'. He upholds a philosophy of socialist utopianism, advocating for 'free money, free rent, free love and a free lay church in a free lay state' for all... espousing the virtues of tolerance and inclusivity...


Virtues worth celebrating internationally today.

One of those celebration today is being held in Fő tér in Szombathély, just a block away from one of the addresses where Andras Pető was alledgedly born in the same year.

Leopold Bloom was of course a fictitious character. András Pető was not, but seems often to have been doing his level best to make himself one...

Bloomsday world map, perhaps not too late to find one near you:

The Crazy Rogues: Celtic punk in Szombathely:

Happy Bloomsday!


___

* Gorgonzola sandwiches are an important feature of Bloomsday celebrations around the world. Here is an example from this year's event at the Irish Embassy in Berlin:
http://berlin.carpediem.cd/events/3857088-bloomsday-2017-at-embassy-of-ireland-berlin/

Sunday, 11 June 2017

PAF – BACK IN NEWS



                              'Mi lesz a Petővel?' 

Illusztráció - Kállai Márton

A brief item in yesterday's Vasárnapi Hírek ['Saturday News'], under the headline 'Merger news: Staff cannot deny or confirm anything' –

What will become of Pető? 'There is nothing concrete, only promises,' say stakeholders about the merger that will come into effect on August 1, in which the Pető András College (better known as the Pető Intézet) will become part of Semmelweis University.


People in both institutions are being very close –

As there is no official government decision, we do not think that we can say anything...

(ibid.)

The staff of the two institutions remain reportedly in the dark about what exactly is happening. Particular mention is made of the Adults' Department (passim), stating that it has are only four conductors left to cover 120 people, with the result that some groups have closed, some clients are regressing, and a waiting list is all can be offered to new ones.

The report reprises April's press release announcing that the Senates of the PAF and the Semmelweis support the merger in principle, with the PAF's being incorporated into the University as an 'independent faculty...' It continues – 

Some sources suggest that the Ministry of Human Resources has made the two senates approve this, but they present it to the public as it were the wish of the Peto Institute.

(ibid.)

In absence of documentary evidence or people to step forward to testify, this has to remain no more than pletyka (rumour).

The report ends by remarking that this has not been the first attempt to incorporate The Pető Institute/College. Some years ago the University of Physical Education wanted to do the same.

(The Ministry of Human Resources is responsible for Hungary's national health-care and welfare systems.)

Very few weeks remaining

The merger comes into effect on 1 August, and soon the summer holidays begin for most conductors and most clients.

More questions than answers...

The most interesting questions are often not so much what a newspaper is writing, but why, and why now.

And what is it not reporting.


Friday, 9 June 2017

ROWENA SOMOGYVÁRY

1941-2017

Rowena died on Monday. For more than a year now the advance of multiple sclerosis and cancer had made her life increasingly hard, to the point where she was no longer mobile. She remained, however, 'the old Ro'. No one could be tougher.

She was born in New Zealand into a Scottish farming family. She trained as a teacher and became a special educator, specialising on children who were deaf, deaf-blind and blind. In the late nineteen-eighties she was one of the pioneers who expanded awareness of Conductive Education in New Zealand society. In 1991 she travelled to the UK and to Hungary to gather data for her MEd dissertation, which was on Conductive Education.

The next year she took a bigger bite at the conductive cherry. From January 1992 to August 1993 she lived and worked in Budapest as resident tutor to the final tranche of the Foundation for Conductive Education's trainees, who were following the four-year, full-time course at the Pető Institute to become conductors.

In those highly politicised times it was particularly critical that their training went well. Rowena was concerned for the trainees' social, psychological and physical welfare, and the course of their studies, She liaised both with the Foundation back in Birmingham, and with the Pető Institute (especially with Mária Hári), and trouble-shot generally. The trainees passed.

Back in 1972 Rowena had married Lajos (Lali) Somogyváry, a 56-er who had settled in New Zealand and become a prominent member of the Hungarian community. She had already developed a great affinity for Hungarians and Hungarianness. Lali of course went to Budapest with her and, as she often remarked, 'the Foundation 'got two for the price of one', with Lali's contributing to her work in his unique way. In turn, he had a chance to live once more in Budapest, and show Rowena something of where he came from. To reflect this, here is a link to something about Rowena and Lali, in Hungarian, in the newsletter Magyar Szó, no 86, from December 2006:


(Scroll down about half way for the three relevant paragraphs. NB her age is wrongly stated)

Lali had died in 2005. Rowena had always been a great traveller. Despite her multiple sclerosis she continued to see the world:


She also continued with special education, tutoring children with learning disabilities in a room in her house that she had converted for this purpose. Rowena loved children – tough love – and she loved teaching them, continuing to do so into her seventies.

Rowena was bold and she was kind. She left her mark.

Memorial book

This will now remain permanently archived on line. Further reminiscences and photos are welcomed:


Memorial book

This will now remain permanently on line. Further reminiscences and photos are welcomed.