Friday, 20 October 2017


What is distinctive about this explanation?

'Conductive Education is an intensive,
multi-disciplinary approach to...'
or some variant on this theme, is often offered as a public explanation of Conductive Education.

This puzzles me:
  • I wonder what exactly is meant or even just implied and understood here by the word 'discipline'
  • granting the first point raised here, I also wonder too what 'approaches' (professional trainings etc.) are not 'multidisciplinary'!
  • and, granting this, how does this explanation distinguish Conductive Education from everything else?
(There is also the question of what people mean and understand by the word 'intensive', and that too renders this warm-fuzzy definition problematical)

Putting on the style

One is left with a definition that does not define, with any cardinal differences left unstated. Perhaps this is the  spirit of the age or at least of a sub-culture within it...

At the very least, those who offer this explanation might also provide a list of what they condider the component 'disciplines'.

Thursday, 19 October 2017


Another report
Semmelweis Hírek
The meeting held in the European Parliament building on 19 October has now been reported in Semmelweis Hírek ('Semmelweis News'). The report is substantially what has already appeared in the public domain – with mention of the European Conductive Education and the International Pető Association.

This report in full (Hungarian only):

Esther Horvath Tothné has promised publication of all the presentations on the web soon:


(2017) Bemutatkozott a konduktor szakma az Európai Parlamentben, Semmelweis Hírek, 19 October

Wednesday, 18 October 2017


Book by Károly Ákos

Az ördög
The woman of the Apocalypse
Albrecht Dürer, Nürnberg
(Page from Károly Ákos's book)

Károly Ákos used to visit to András Pető's flat, to dine and to talk. One of Károly's interests at the time was 'the Devil', and a posting about a short article that he published on this in 1961 has attracted a bit of attention here on Conductive World:

Emma McDowell has written to me, with a perspective on this that could come only from a Magyar steeped in that period –

...Pető's 'angels-fixation' may root in his belief in theophany... I don't have any further 'proof', only my recollections of long conversations with the Ákoses, and also what my other main source, Ida (original conductor with Pető, and a favourite of his) told me about Pető's often rambling on about theophany. And, last but not least, Pető's poetry. But then, 'angels' are much used - symbolically, or as a great subject, in poetry and literature....

Now I have very interesting article about the origins of the idea of the Devil. No mention of angels, but a thorough review of the religious (Christian) historic, ethnographical and psychological approaches to the Devil, from the original communities of primitive humans right up to a 1930s critical study (and its apologetic, Nazi-type foreword by the Hungarian translator), plus a 1960 book of historic-materialistic (Marxist) based study, emphasised as 'correct'. This article, hoerver, is aimed to call attention to the complexities of the ever-present 'Devil' (Satan, demons, etc.) ideology through the ages. It leads very clearly through the existing, and quoted, literature. I made notes.

Yes, I am sure Ákos had lots of conversations about it all with Pető, who probably called his attention to the literature referred to. As usual, Pető only talked, Ákos analysed and published....

What is (politically) significant about  the whole article is the date of publishing. In 1960 it was already tolerated publicly and properly to discuss something connected with religion, by Marxist-materialism relegated to nonsense, opium of the people etc.

Adrienn Oravecz has written to tell me that in 1964 Károly Ákos published a substantial book on the topic of the Devil – Az ördög:

As mentioned in the previous posting, Károly wrote among other things for the popularisation of science. This was directed particularly towards young people, and its orientation was very much in the materialist tradition. At over two-hundred pages this was a hefty read for a serious youngster! The content of the book included chapters and sections on –

the human brain
brain and consciousness
the brain and the two-signal system
inner speech and consciousness
language and imagination
demons and magic
the fallen devil

What a world they lived in...


Ákos, K (1964) Az ördög, Budapest, Móra Ferenc Könyvkiadó  Könyvkiadó

Monday, 16 October 2017


One of them, anyway... proposed by Ralph Sstrzełkowski four years ago, on his blog Lawyer on Wheels

The Pető problem

Some 25 years ago Conductive Education was what at least seemed like the leading approach to cerebral palsy. Parents from all over the world would rush behind the Iron Curtain to the Pető Institute in Budapest to give their kids a fighting chance. I don't think the method ever particularly caught on in the United States. But everywhere else it felt like everyone has heard about it and anybody wanted to try it, often sparing no expense to get to the centre. I guess an ounce of hope is more valuable than gold. 

But something happened to the Pető Institute over the last two decades. Something I don't yet fully comprehend. It seemed that somewhere between the high point of its popularity and today it has lost all its glory. 

I understand why Americans don't know what this method is. But imagine my surprise when I sat down with a journalist from the Poland's leading disability magazine Integracja, talking about my life and my then upcoming keynote address at the Munich Congress, to discover she hasn't heard about it either. When I said 'It was really big in the 1980s', she laughed. Then I realised. The 80s were a really long  time ago. I might just as well have been asking whether she remembers World War II. 

She was too young to know anything about the Pető hype and the Institute seems to be doing very little to remind people that it still exists. It needs to reach out to people. It needs to put together a strong image, a message of hope that says 'We have this method, decades of experience, it really works and it can really help your child'. The problem is, the Pető Institute never needed to reach out to parents. Parents always came to it. But times change. And if you don't evolve, you stay behind. They need strong and aggressive PR. I wanted to say that the Institute needs to think of itself as a product, but it has always been a product. It was the only enterprise in the Eastern bloc that I can think of where you needed dollars for the very expensive stay regardless of which side of the Iron Curtain you came from. Back in the 1980s it was a money-making machine, while in most eastern states it was illegal to have any amounts of foreign currency. 

I guess that decades later the centre could not keep up with how the market and the world worked. We now want information. We want proof, we want research. In the age of the internet we want to be able to compare things side by side. The Pető Institute was used to parents turning to it quite blindly. Not only coming to it first, but asking very few questions. And then the Institute provided very little understanding about what they were doing. At the World Congress on Conductive Education it started making a little more sense. One of the presenters said that it was Pető himself who was protective about his method and told his conductors to keep it a secret. That way all you can copy are the external features, if you will. The furniture. The exercise routines. But none of the ideology. None of the theory.

The secrecy continued throughout the decades. When I was there in the 1980s my parents were never allowed to take any pictures. They saw some of the exercises but were never disclosed the reason and theory behind them. The Pető Institute felt it can gamble on keeping the most to itself but yet keeping people intrigued and interested enough to keep coming back. And it lost. With new methods, new concepts, new research coming to prominence in the information age you have to reach out to your client. You need to sell your product. And as much as you can you have to be transparent. 

The Institute seems to be sitting on decades and decades of success stories and experience. Where are the publications? The case studies? The research? The comparison of data over time? It seems that the Conductive Education publications that appear have no connection to the Institute itself. It is a number of often prominent, passionate, private people who dedicate their time and put things together, often in a semi-amateur fashion, wanting to keep the legacy alive. 

And where is the Institute in this? Shouldn't it want to save itself the most? Shouldn't it be doing all the ground-work. Setting up congresses, commissioning research, publishing in a multitude of languages, bringing back success stories for talks, tracking down former pupils. The only, yet limited push that I see always seems to be on Pető the man that made it all come together, not Pető the method. The question is: if everything that happens in the world of Conductive Education takes place with minimal if any involvement from the Institute, can it be saved against its will? 

When will it start to be a lot more proactive on the PR front, to stop itself from falling into oblivion. This requires time. And planning. And money. You can't simply have a press conference these days and expect people to not only come but also care about it. We're bombarded with information. Every day you are competing with news stories about anything from Kim Kardashian's undergarments to terror attempts in Kenya. Whatever you do needs to be thought out and continuous. There was a World Congress on Conductive Education. Sadly the world did not seem to care. The most mentions that I saw of the event was in relation to my own keynote address. But this is because my own foundation, FDAAF, felt that it was important to get the word out. So, we wrote out a press release in accordance with the Associated Press stylebook and then we paid to have it distributed. Many outlets got it. Few picked it up – Conductive Education isn't exactly a hot topic. But the Peto Institute does not do itself any favours by voluntarily eliminating itself from the media.

16 October 2013

Was this fair comment four years ago. Is it still fair comment now?

Recent reblogging of an item by Ralph

Ralph's CE writings

Book of a blog

What, you haven't yet read Ralph's book? On his growing up with cerebral palsy, his life as a pupil at the then Pető Institute, and starting a new, independent life in America? Why ever not? The world of Conductive Education is desperately lacking in the perspectives of adults who have grown up under the aegis of CE.

His book
Never, Never Quit is a rare bird indeed. You can preview it, and order a copy, here:

The book was taken from Ralph's blog, Lawyer on Wheels. His blog continued after the book's publication and remains on line.

Ralph no longer blogs about Conductive Education. He has moved on.


Strzełkowski, R, (2013) The Pető problem, Lawyer on Wheels, 16 October

Friday, 13 October 2017


András Pető

Falling angel

As has been remarked before in Conductive World, Károly Ákos has been an unduly ignored figure in the story of Conductive Education during the period of the latter years of András Pető's life and into the early years of Mária Hári's directorship – say the end of the 1950s through to the mid -seventies. For an example, see:

After that, however, the relationship between Károly and Mária cooled and his name has been largely struck from the history of Conductive, and largely forgotten. Why this happened I do not know.

There is little known about this acquaintanceship, other than the bare facts that Károly and his wife Magda would often visit András Pető's flat in Stollar Béla u. for dinner and conversation, often stated as once a week, and that Károly would visit the Institute to see the work. Károly would later tell that he was nagging András Pető to commit the ideas and the practice of conductive pedagogy to paper, and that he was willing to act as a co-author to get things under way (all perhaps at ministerial behest) but... but that's about it.

Károly was a physician, a psychologist, a bit of a philosopher, a populariser of science, and an active atheist.

I have recently stumbled across an unexpected little item on line, published by Károly in Hungary, in 1962 in the first volume of Egyetemi Könyvtár Évkönyvei ('Yearbook of the University Library'). This small-circulation but extensive publication deals as would be expected largely with library matters but tucked away at the end is a small section of general articles, the first of which is this little essay by Károly Ákos:


In English this reads something like –

Additions to the modern use of the concept of 'devil'

What it was doing there is not explained.

What has this to do with anything?

Not a lot now – except perhaps in the largely unborn field of Pető studies in which one of the mysterious oddities about András Pető is that he had a bit of a thing about angels For example:

There is even (surprisingly?) an angel on his memorial plaque outside the apartment in which he lived for much of his years in Budapest after the war and up to his death. And, as Károlytreminds in this short piece, in Christian theology the Devil was an angel too, albeit a fallen one.

Károly also told how he had disapproved of András Pető 's thing about angels...

Just what did they talk about and (pure speculation this, of course) how much might the content of Károly's little article here echo something of these conversations...? And if it does, might one track back from Károly's views stated here to sense at least the flavour of some of their discussion?

Pure speculation of course...

And as for judging what András Pető writes here about Satan it would be all Greek to me in whatever language it were written, and I am happy to leave it at that. I leave any judgement on its content to others.


Ákos, K. (1962) Apologetika és filológia. (Adalékok az "ördög" fogalmának "modern" használatára) in Az Egyetemi Könyvtár Évkönyvei I., Budapest, Tankönyvkiadó, pp. 175-178

Akos, K., Akos, M. (2012) The enigmatic Dr Pető, in G. Maguire and A. Sutton (eds.) András Pető, Birmingham, Ctive Education Press

Wednesday, 11 October 2017


From Budapest
Image result for hirado

Little apparent interest about that Euro-meeting in Brussels in Hungarian media, except a brief report on Híradó yesterday. Its title in English reads – 

The world-famous Pető method has been presented at a conference at the European Parliament

The irony of this may or may not be accidental.

The item recounts the meeting was presented by Ádám Kósa, a Fidesz MEP, who described the Pető method as one of the wonders of Hungarian special education. The aim of the event, he said, is for other European countries to recognise the Hungarian qualification in a routine way. Professional qualifications are matters for individual states but the European Parliament might have a role in recognition of the conductor profession.

The meeting was opened by Tibor Navracsics, now Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport a former Fidesz Foreign Minister in the Hungarian Government.

The report concluded, without amplification, that it is very important to handle the Pető method as a shared gem, so no market organisations can monopolise it.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017


No pearls without grit

Image result for maria hari
See pages 65-75
Facebook tells me that Conductive World published the following item seven years ago today. It reports what Mária Hári said at a 'study day' in Brussels in 1981. I would have drawn attention to this today anyway, even if there were not to be another multinational event happening in Brussels (described as a 'colloquium') this very afternoon.

Read what she said here (English translated from French):

I hope that this brings a wry smile to the faces of those who remember her – and give pause for thought to those who do not.

What will happen today?

We know about what she said in Brussels thirty-six years ago only through a stroke of luck, because it was taken down by an unknown hand, transcribed, then circulated in photocopy form, copies of which survived to be eventually published in 2004. Her intervention does not figure in the formal published report of the meeting, nor did it pass into Conductive Education's oral folklore.

In these days of mass electronic communication, what trace, formal or informal, will remain from today's events.

Mária will not be in Brussels today.


(1981) Journées d’études sur la méthode Petö, Motricité cérébrale, 1981/2, pp.92-94

(2017) European introduction of the conductor, the pedagogical rehabilitation professional, Brussels, 10 October

Maguire, G., Sutton, A. (eds.) (2004) Exasperation, 1981, in Mária Hári on Conductive Pedagogy, Birmingham, Foundation for Conductive Education, pp. 65-75
Sutton, A, (2011) Hariána IV. – Speaking out, What is and what is not CE?, Conductive World, 10 October

Monday, 9 October 2017


Listing conductors
Image result for crown
A tiny corner of Her Majesty's Government has just sent me one of its informative email alerts, this one being a list of English-speaking lawyers in Hungary, compiled by the British Embassy Consular Section in Budapest.

Link to this useful resource in full, here:

Years ago, in the last days of Socialism and the early days of whatever it is that has come next, I did have an Hungarian lawyer (or to be strictly accurate, the Foundation for Conductive Education did). He was introduced to me by our Embassy in Budapest.

He was an essential components of the network that saw us through those difficult days.

And what a great bloke too. Memories that raise a smile. I have looked at the list just forwarded me and I see that he still practises, from the same business address. I trust that I shall never be in a position to need his professional services again, but it is still nice to know...

Conductors, a disclaimer

There are several lists published on line now, for those who are looking to find a conductor, or even Conductive Education. For the sake of everybody involved, those who publish such lists, those who feature on them, and those who use them, such lists ought to include a careful disclaimer.

The Embassy in Budapest quite rightly prefaces its list of lawyers with just such. It looks pretty watertight to me so I re-offer it here to those who publish lists of conductive services, with some words changed and blanks left to fill as required:

The following list of [conductors] has been prepared by […] for the convenience of [...]. It is provided on the understanding that we [...] do not assume or undertake any legal responsibility, to you, or those affected, if you choose to take it into account when [consulting] a local [conductor].

Further and alternatively, we cannot accept any liability to any person or company for any financial loss or damage arising from the use of this information or from any failure to give information.

Our aim is to provide [...] with as much relevant information to enable them to make better informed decisions but our lists are not recommendations and should not be treated as such.

I hope that the Embassy will not mind this minor plagiarisation. If it does, then perhaps I shall be hearing from its lawyer.

Sunday, 8 October 2017


Collectives, groups in upbringing, education

Where educators are not united into a group, and the group has no single plan of work, no single tone, no single exact approach, there can be no process of education
Anton Semenovich Makarenko


Russian-speakers will have noticed that I have translated kollektiv into English here as 'group'.

I have agonised about this, seeing pluses and minuses in doing so but in the end, granting inclusion of this brief explanatory note, I have come down on the side of doing so.

By the same token I have translated vospitateli/vospitanie as 'educators'/'education'.

Hungarian-speakers may do what they will with czoport, nevelés etc!

Saturday, 7 October 2017


Credit where it is due

World Cerebral Palsy Day
A CE winner

CE's winner
The ECS (European Conductive Organisation) has just announced on its website –

Our partner organization ACENA in Illinois USA won an award for their vocational training for young adults! Congrats!

I do not know the particular relationship between the ECA and ACENA (Association for Conductive Education in North America) but, to be accurate, this Award has been won by the Center for Independence for Education, in Chicago, Illinois, under the rubric 'High Expectations for Employment'.
The Centre for Independence is indeed to be congratulated on behalf of Conductive Education initiatives worldwide for its achievement, as being the only CE winner not just in this year's listing but, as far as I know, in the history of the Award (please correct me if I am wrong)..

High Expectations

More substantial is to note that the Center's winning program is a service for young adults. This award represents established CE centres' increasing response to the need to extent their practice up into the transition years as their established clients grow up. So double congratulations for the Center for Independence.

The awarding body, published some general details of the Center's program 'High Expectations'. This makes welcome addition to the new but one hopes growing CE literature of CE and young adults with cerebral palsy and other lifelong conditions:

No doubt many in Conductive Education around the world will now be looking forward to learning more of this practice.