Tuesday, 22 July 2014


A little reminder from L. S. Vygotskii
One has to regard this problem as a social problem. Psychologically speaking, if a physical deficit means social derailment then, pedagogically speaking, to educate this child means to set him back on the right course in life, in the same way in which a dislocated or injured organ is reset.
What was taken to be a physical handicap or illness is in fact a complex of symptoms with a specific psychological orientation found in children who socially have been completely derailed; it is a socio- and psychogenic phenomenon, not a biogenic one

The first, essential conceptual step in understanding motor disorders in childhood, explaining them, and what might be done about them.


Vygotskii, L.S. (1982) Sob. Soch., t. II, Osnovy defektologii, M, Pedagogika

An English translation:

Monday, 21 July 2014


A glimpse into the past

In the evening of 1 April 1986 BBC 1 showed a 50-minute TV programme called Standing up for Joe. It would be fair to say that it caused quite some consternation:

Suddenly everyone wanted to get into the act, but few people yet knew quite what to do or say – though if there were to be money made available...

Conductive Education was in the papers, on radio and television, and local and national politicians were having their say too – all rather hard to believe now.

Less than four weeks later, on 28 April, there was a short, good-natured but confused exchange in the House of Lords, the first of many in that place on this topic over the next few years –

"Conductive Education"

Baroness Dudley. My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have for evaluating "conductive education" for those suffering from motor disorders, now well established in Hungary, and what resources are being made available for backing a conductive education programme.
The Earl of Swinton. My Lords, the Spastics Society has submitted an application for central government funding towards a proposed study of conductive education, and that is at present under close consideration. There are no funds available to the Secretary of State for Education and Science from which he could pay directly for an independent programme of conductive education.
Baroness Dudley. My Lords, will my noble friend say how many people are attending the course that they have in Hungary for conductive education? Is it true that around 70 per cent. of the children learn to walk and go to normal schools within four years?
The Earl of Swinton. My Lords, I honestly do not know the size of that particular school in Hungary. I think that my noble friend's figure of 70 per cent. is right. However, I ought to point out that I also understand that the children are very much selected as to those who are most likely to succeed in walking, before they are taken to that school.
Baroness Fisher of Rednal. My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that Birmingham Education Committee and Birmingham social services are pioneering a scheme for those particular children? An advertisement for a director was placed last weekend. The funding of that centre will be by Birmingham City Council, Dr. Barnardo's, the Parkinson's Disease Society, and the Percy Bilton Fund. That scheme is to be evaluated by Nottingham University. Is the Minister aware of that project, and will he see that some resource is sent there if at all possible, especially in respect of the evaluation of that project?
The Earl of Swinton. My Lords, I was aware of the project but not of quite so much detail as is the noble Baroness, who knows more about it than I do. I understand that the DHSS was approached for funding in respect of the conductive education project in Birmingham but decided after very careful consideration that it would be inappropriate to support that particular project. It was made clear last year to the sponsors of the Birmingham project that the DES would be ready to consider a more limited scheme concerned with producing an effective evaluation of the system of conductive education as practised in Hungary and its transferability to this country. The university has not as yet submitted a formal application along those lines.
Lord Ennal. My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for the answers that he has just given. I wonder whether he or his right honourable friend can look more closely into the Birmingham operation. As the noble Earl said, it is conducted primarily through the University of Birmingham. Is the noble Earl aware that in respect of motor disorders such as cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and Parkinson's disease, there has been a tremendous advance by Dr. Andrew Sutton, based partly on the research that has been carried out in Hungary? Is the noble Earl aware also that funding is a major problem? Approximately £300,000 is needed in order to proceed with that absolutely vital research, affecting, as the noble Baroness said, many, many children who are in a very severe condition.
The Earl of Swinton. Yes, my Lords. I assure the noble Lord that we shall be following with interest what goes on. However, we feel that there is a lot more research needed into the subject. That is why the approach now being made by the Spastics Society is being considered with great sympathy. I understand that there is no consensus of opinion about that method of treatment. Some professionals have been very enthusiastic about it, particularly in the field of cerebral palsy and in some aspects of mental handicap and other neurological handicaps. Others in the field, including Her Majesty's Inspectorate, have reservations. They feel that although the method may be considered impressive in respect of movement, it can be at the expense of other areas of educational and social development.
The Earl of Selkirk. My Lords, will my noble friend give the House some picture of the nature of conductive education? It is a subject with which I am not very familiar.
The Earl of Swinton. My Lords, conductive education has been developed in Hungary, where it is used as the main basis for the early education of physically handicapped children and as a method of treating or re-educating adults with major handicaps. The essence of the method is to treat children and others like normal individuals with the object of educating them on general subjects, but incorporating into the general subjects lessons on how to eat, walk, sit and solve problems. Children are allocated to one particular "superperson", who is a cross between a teacher and therapist and is known as a conductor, who takes them through the whole process of education as they grow older.
Baroness Fisher of Rednal. My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that Birmingham City Council is pioneering the scheme and not Birmingham University? It all arose through one of the children in the city who is now in Budapest. The city itself felt, after visiting the centre, that it was a useful exercise, as the noble Earl has said, to see whether the scheme could be put into operation and then evaluated. However, it is not a university scheme.
The Earl of Swinton. My Lords, I bow to the superior knowledge of the noble Baroness in respect of what goes on in and around Birmingham. I am sure that she is absolutely right.
(HL Deb 28 April 1986 vol 474 cc1-31)

Thirteen hard years later

In May 1999, another debate in the Lords

Add another thirteen years to that...

... and you are almost up to the present day. What might such discussion sound like now? Certainly nothing like those of 1986 and 1999. Not only has the whole social situation changed, at home and abroad, but even the very language in which such matters are discussed is quite different.

The only thing that remains unchanged is that the great bulk of children and adults and families who might potentially benefit from radical change in how their services are construed and delivered are experiencing much of the same.

So it goes.

Sunday, 20 July 2014


Two new micro-centres in France
On cherche des conducteurs

Two new entries today on Conductive World's Facebook page:

New French micro-centre
Centre d'éducation conductive du Gard 

Another new French micro-centre
Association Solidarité Enfants IMC
Conductor job available in Normandy:
Both small, family-led initiatives.
Like previous initiatives in France, in rural settings and seemingly media-savvy.

Sheer coincidence or possible trend?


Chance discovery of classic from the fifties

I have just stumbled just by chance upon a PDF of a classic double paper by A. R. Luriya, in English, from fifty-five years ago (complete with the traces of rusty staples):

It was all such a different world. Lovely to see those quaint old English transliterations of Russian names again. 

More substantively, it was Aleksandr Luriya who gave birth to the science of neuropsychology. Rewiring-buffs, and those who do not like the concept of 'rewiring the brain', might both seriously like to consider his notion of 'temporary connections'. This could quite raise the level of discussion...

Indeed the concept of temporary connections ought to be at least mentioned whenever the less mediated notion of rewiring is evoked.

His 'directive function of speech', by the way, has frequently been misrendered into English as 'verbal regulation', including in the CE literature.


Luriya, A. R. (1959) The directive function of speech in development and dissolution. Part I: Development of the directive function of speech in early childhood, Word, vol. 15, no 3, pp. 341-352

Luriya, A. R. (1959) The directive function of speech in development and dissolution. Part II: Dissolution of the regulative function of speech in pathological states of the brain, Word, vol. 15, no 3, pp. 353-364


Friday, 18 July 2014


Something fresh in 'CE research'

No way to run a railroad

Local CE charity Stick 'n' Step has injected a much-needed new paradigm for consideration outcome-evaluation into the field of Conductive Education. But the field learns about it – if at all  almost by chance

On Monday of this week an English local newspaper published an interesting report by Craig Manning its Chief Reporter, concerning a university-based evaluation completed on the CE centre Stick 'n' Step:

The evaluation was made through investigation of Stick 'n' Step's 'SROI' (social return on investment). The study was conducted by Gayle Whelan and Gareth Roach of the Centre for Public Health at John Moores University.

I had picked this story up through Google Alerts. I emailed Kerry Schaffer Roe-Ely of Stick 'n' Step to ask about publication. I also Facebooked what I had found:


The University had promised to publish but, as far as I could see, has yet to do so. This morning, Friday, Kerry told me that Stick'n'Step has now published the report on its own site:

This completed final report had been dated February of this year.

Is this some measure of just how urgent 'research' really is in the Conductive Education sector?

A quick look at the report

The report reminds that the topic of this report is of more than of just academic interest –
With the Public Value (Social Value) Act 2012 requiring public authorities to consider how services they procure might improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of communities, it is also timely to consider the wider impacts of community projects on the areas they thrive in. (p.8)

SLOI analysis uses a combination of qualitative, quantitative and financial information to estimate the amount of ‘value’ created or destroyed by the project, which is typically expressed thus –
For every £1 invested in the project, £x of social value is created(Nicholls et al., 2012)

Qualitative data were gained by various means from 13 'stakeholders'. The headline finding, taken up by local newspaper the Wirral Globe, was that for every £1 spent by Stick 'n' Step, £4.89 of social value was created. The improvements identified clustered into four groups:
  • improvements in health and wellbeing
  • increase in mobility
  • socialising
  • learning new skills
All children and adult stakeholders involved in this evaluation reported a number of outcomes from which three main themes of impacts emerged, based around social, mental health and wellbeing benefits and the learning of new skills. Social benefits included the meeting of new people, making of new friends and feeling more socially included in society.
As a result of engagement with Stick ’n’ Step, mental health and wellbeing had improved with many respondents stating they felt happy and relaxed after attending. Having learnt new skills which had enabled them to make improvements in their mobility, and the pain reduction that came with CE sessions, many young people reported feelings of pride brought on by how hard they had worked to achieve personal goals set out as part of their holistic programme of care when they first attended Stick ‘n’ Step.
(page 3)

Financial data were also collected or estimated by a number of means.

A few specifics
Attending Stick ‘n’ Step was reported as being life-changing for many as it resulted in usually being pain-free for the day that they had attended their CE session. (p. 3)
… many respondents stating they felt happy and relaxed after attending. (p.3)
...Having learnt new skills which had enabled them to make improvements in their mobility, and the pain reduction that came with CE sessions, many young people reported feelings of pride brought on by how hard they had worked to achieve personal goals set out as part of their holistic programme of care when they first attended Stick ‘n’ Step. (p.3)
Another factor linked to the social aspect was that of trust. Stakeholders described how friendships between adults (volunteers, Stick ‘n’ Step staff and conductors) and the child were forged through trust. This was trust that was built up over time and was related to the child trusting that the adult was working to help them, but also their parents trusted the charity overall to act in the best interests of their child. (p. 13)
For many young people they stated they were pain-free for the day that they had attended their CE session and had consequently experienced an increase in mobility. This had meant they were able to do more and were no longer as reliant on parents/carers tosupport them when doing everyday tasks. (p.14)
...children and parents reporting feeling happier. As the young person’s achievements were often noticeable, such as having greater mobility, they stated they felt happy and there was a sense that they felt ‘normalised’ and able to get on with their lives like their peers were able to. (p. 15)
Time and travel costs were the only negative issues reported by those involved in the evaluation... However, all reported that this journey was beneficial and something they wanted to do in order to achieve the gains that were felt by attending the CE sessions. (p. 18)

There are qualities mentioned here that are familiar enough and greatly valued among many of those those directly involved in Conductive Education, but not arising in evaluation of CE-outcomes – demonstrating yet again the need for a qualitative-quantitative cycle for CE-research.

Minor critical comments

The report is written in a generally clear, comfortable academic style, and provides a welcome outsiders' view of a modern Western CE practice. It largely escapes CE-jargon – but introduces some jarring, unspecific examples of its own, e.g. 'key stakeholders' 'engagement'

Though the report offers a detailed overview of the services that Stick 'n' Step provides, it does not say what the individuals investigated here actually received, e.g. what kind of 'Conductive Education', how often, over what period. It therefore falls short of the proposal for 'manualisation' (Ludwig et al., 2003) that is perhaps the most important practical proposal to have emerged from the earlier glut of 'CE-research'. This seems to be an essential prerequisite for all outcome studies in this sector if they are to have concrete value in contributing to a guide to future policy.

The report refers to a refreshingly new range of sources. This posting is meant to be no more that a quick look, and I have not ploughed through the referencing like an outside examiner! I was vain enough, however, to notice my own. 'Sutton (2002)' is duly listed in the back. 'Sutton (2006)' is not. I wonder what it was! I should not have to.


Fundamentally, SROI is about value rather than money, and the report's concluding remarks (p. 26) make this point well.

That said, this is an important document for advancing and extending consideration of outcome-evaluating in Conductive Education. It does rather change the game and any functioning field of study future researchers will be obliged to grant it careful and critical account.

Whatever the virtues or shortcomings of this specific study and its findings, those concerned for questions of outcome-evaluation in Conductive Education will have to get their heads around SROI, and at learn how to weigh and criticise studies of this kind.

Moreover, the notion of 'social return on investment' has received considerable official backing in the United Kingdom. To express Conductive Education in its terms would likely be more acceptable if official quarters than through the results of the sorts of measures used in the past (even were they favourable to Conductive Education!) Moreover, the approach fits well to the global, molar, 'holistic' stance that Conductive Education itself represents.

There is no mystery involved in SROI. There is a hefty guidelines document and a lively network available on line. Stick 'n' Step has taken a lead. It should not be too hard for others to follow.


Ludwig, S., Leggett, P., Hartsal, C, (2000) Conductive Education for children with cerebral palsy, Edmonton, Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research

Manning, C, (2014) Report confirms 1.5m reasons why Wirral chariry is good value for money, Wirral Globe, 14 July

Nicholls et al., (2012) A Guide to Social Return on Investment, revised edition, SROI Network, January

Whelan, G., Roach, G. (2014) An evaluation of the Stick ‘n’ Step charity in Wirral, Merseyside, Final report, Liverpool, John Moores University, February

Thursday, 17 July 2014


Political reshuffle prompts recollections

One of this week's storms in the UK teacup has been David Cameron's reshuffle of his government in preparation for next year's General Election. Within this Ken Clarke and William Hague were 'big beasts' at the top of the political tree. They have now left government, prompting recollections of when they were much younger, in the years under Margaret Thatcher's and John Major's Conservative governments when their political paths crossed that of Conductive Education. Inevitably, this also sparked memories of the more protracted and significant contribution in those days of the late Nicolas Scott.

Ken Clarke (1985)

In 1985, arriving in Budapest on one of my earlier routine visits I had gone straight to my hotel from the airport and phoned Mária Hári at Villányi út. to tell her that I had arrived, as I used to do. She said at once –

'You must come, immediately. Your ministre is here' (ministre was one of the words that she invariably said in French when speaking English).

'Which ministre​​?'

'Your ministre'. Come quickly.'

So I took an immediate taxi to Villányi út 67, then still basically the building that had been built by shock workers, or Stakhnovites, to house András Pető's Motor Therapy Institute, with a few later ad hoc add-ons. As soon as I was through the front door I saw Mária energetically leading a crocodile of people along the corridor, mainly men in suits. At the very end end was a young woman, plainly English, presumably a British civil servant – one of 'my' minister's party. I fell in beside her –

'Are you one of their chaps, or ours?' I asked.'

She stared at me in startled horror. After all this was a Communist country and presumably she had been well warned. She did not reply, but fled at once to the front of the column. Everyone halted. The procession in strict order of precedence included Ken Clark, then Minister of State for Health, and his Hungarian equivalent, HM Ambassador to Hungary and a high official from the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, British civil servants in attendance and their Hungarian equivalents – plus, I am fairly sure, a reporter and a photographer from the Daily Mail who were there on another story and had tagged on like me. A higher-up British civil servants came back to see what was happening at the back. He politely asked me who I was and led me to the head of the column where a beaming Mária introduced me to Ken Clarke. She made me sound pretty good.

Yes, I looked a bit of a scruff, sartorially about on a par with Ken Clarke.

So off the crocodile went once more, 'making the round', with me now at the head being egged on by Mária to tell my Minister about our plans for bringing Conductive Education to the United Kingdom, and how much money was needed to do so. At the same time she gave him the well worked-up display for visiting dignitaries, the set piece tableaux, the vignettes of conductive pedagogic practice, the little anecdotes and biographic sketches. We all finished up in the little yard towards the wooden sheds, where some children displayed their skill on roller skates. Ken Clarke was much impressed. He was meant to be.

Peter Unwin, HM Ambassador, and his wife had already developed an interest our our project. It was they who slipped the Pető Institute on to the programme of Ken Clarke's visit, to the surprise of the Hungarian Foreign Ministry where no one apparently had ever heard of it. They asked me to dinner at the residence that night with Ken Clarke, a really nice bloke, showing a far better potential door on to the agenda of national government that could ever have been provided by the angry, middle-ranking opposition met in what was then, I think, called the Department of Education and Science.

After making the round with Mária during the day, at dinner that night, Ken Clarke had one all-embracing question –

'Why don't we have it?'

That was nearly thirty years ago. This week he left the Government. I wonder how I would answer him if he asked that question now.

He had been in Budapest for a routine Ministerial visit.  He returned enthusiastic about what he heard and seen of Conductive Education but found the Department of Education and Science sitting on the question, and stonewalling – and very soon he was promoted to the Cabinet, as Paymaster General. A positive torch, however, has been lit in Health, later picked up and kept alive by Nicholas Scott.

Nicholas Scott (1987-1994)

I had had a lot of time for Nicholas Scott, Minister for the Disabled,, a critical period during the establishment of Conductive Education in the United Kingdom. He and the civil servants responsible to him always struggled to understand Conductive Education and the issues around it from our point of view – and, as far as this was possible, brought quite a bit of money our way too. I travelled down quite often to his office in the still very new Richmond House in Whitehall to brief him on what was happening in Conductive Education – not just at home but overseas too, especially in Hungary.

It was to Nicholas Scott on a visit to Budapest that the Hungarian Government announced its surprising and ill-advised mega-plans to create the Pető Foundation in order to capitalise through an International Pető Appeal on what it misjudged as worldwide official interest in Conductive Education. It was aiming to raise US$74 million (and even more breathtaking sum for such purpose at that time than it is now) – this would pay for a truly colossal International Pető Institute. He it was who demonstrated that Government as a whole did not buy into the negative research evidence (nor did the Foreign Office) bought during that period by the Department of Education and Science, and it was he who adjudicated a deal to settle the highly damaging legal proceedings that the Pető Foundation brought against the Foundation for Conductive Education.

And personally, he too was a very nice man.

In short, we had became most comfortable in feeling that under Margaret Thatcher's and John Major's premierships we could look to the political support of the Minister for the Disabled. When Nicholas Scott left office in 1993 it was a very critical time for Conductive Education in the UK, following the DES's research report, the 'Pető court case' and the confusing entry into the field of the Spastics Society (reconfigured a year later as Scope), so I lost no time in contacting his successor, William Hague.

William Hague (1993)

In due course I was summoned to meet William Hague, in what in my mind still was Nicholas Scott's old office. Wonderful, I thought, those good times will continue to roll.

At the time William Hague was a whizz-kid, very ambitious and tipped to be going to high places politically. I found him polite and crisp. He asked me questions and listened attentively to my answers, responding back to explore further what I had said in his own terms. I soon realised that his questions and his responses indicated tight focus upon the possible political advantages of his being involved with Conductive Education, to him in his new job. It took little more time to realise that Conductive Education would not be able to provide him anything of use. My half-hour was soon up, and he did not say 'Be in touch'.

I did not warm to him. Nor I suspect he to me.

William Hague politically went his way the following year, promoted Secretary of State for Wales. As far as I know, he never crossed the path of Conductive Education again.

That was effectively the end of our political contact with John Major's Conservative government. Soon there would be the Blairite New Labour government, its educational ideologues philosophically very distant from Conductive Eduction, leaving Conductive Education in the United Kingdom in the political wilderness. As was the Conservative Party, for a long time.

And now...?

The Conservatives returned to power as part of a Coalition Government in 2010. This time last week Ken Clarke was Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain and Secretary of State for Justice, and William Hague was First Secretary of State and Leader of the House of Commons. Nicholas went into political eclipse in 1997, and died of Alzheimer's in 2005 aged 71.

There have been other national politicians with walk-on parts in the UK's chequered Conductive Education story that there are other figures who made interventions that were significant at the time, as assorted bunch that included Dave Nellist, Jack Ashley, Geoffrey Howe, Michael Forsyth, Iain Duncan Smith, Frank Dobson, Claire Short. Plenty of others have looked in on Conductive Education had something to say too. There were also a few significant civil servants. Some of these interventions were positive in intention and effect. Some most decidedly not. Perhaps their interventions will be recounted in the future.

Conductive Education has cut no figure on the national stage in the United Kingdom for some time, though possibly this might now change.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014


Very interesting...

Announcement dated Friday 11 July –
Pető Institute Carpathian Basin Development with the support of the Hungarian Government

Conductive Education starts in several locations in Transcarpathia, Transylvania and Vojvodina in 2014, in villages, towns and cities, under an agreement concluded by the Bethlen Gábor Foundation and the Pető Institute.
In July 2014, three conductors have travelled to assess the specific needs in Transcarpathia. In Huszt, Nagyszőllős and Ratri Beregszasz conductive pedagogical screening identified children and adults with motor disorders resulting from central nervous system damage.
More than 100 people were examined and discussions held with the heads of five institutions.
The Transcarpathian Catholic Caritas and the Beregszász Maltese charities coordinated and assisted the work.

One wonders where the money will be coming from. 

The poster reproduced at the foot of the above webpage announces, in Hungarian, free screening for disabled children and adults, and that the Hungarian Government is working with the International Pető Institute.

Also at the foot of the page, the emblem of the Ukrainian branch of the Hungarian Scouts Association.

Brief gazeteer

Transcarpathia, Transylvania and Vojvodina were part of the old Kingdom of Hungary until transferred to neighbouring states by the treaty of Trianon, 1919. They retain sizeable Hungarian minorities.

Transcarpathia is part of Ukraine. Huszt is a small town by the border with Hungary. Nagyszőllős and Beregszasz are slightly smaller. Previous item on Transcarpathia:

Transylvania is now part of Romania

Vojvodina is now part of Serbia

Trianon also left a sizeable Hungarian minority in what is now Slovakia, not mentioned in the Pető Institute's announcement.

The politics are labyrinthine.

Sunday, 13 July 2014


Things in common

South China Morning Post is an English-language newspaper published in Hong Kong since 1903. Thanks, Lisa Gombinski in New Zealand, for alerting me to this story by Alice Yan in today's edition, even before Google did.

It tells the story of Lu Shunling (80) in Shanghai, who sold up the two villas that she had inherited from her wealthy father to establish a charity, the CereCare Wellness Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy, and has developed her own massage technique.

Shunling has cerebral palsy...
...We use the conductive education approach, also known as the Pető method, which is acknowledged worldwide as effective for children with cerebral palsy... Teachers use various resources including music to provoke children’s interest and willingness to join in the interaction. Most teachers here are college graduates who majored in rehabilitation. We also invite experts from the Spastics Association of Hong Kong every year to give us guidance...
... I don’t want to keep my method secret; on the contrary, I’d like to share it with as many people as possible, so that it can benefit more patients.
An earlier account

In 2007, Conductive World reported an earlier newspaper account of Lu Shunling and Cere Care, based upon an article by Cushla Normanpublished in Shanghai Daily, along with some brief background to Conductive Education in China. This can be found at:

East and West

Coincidentally, this earlier report was published shortly before the 7th World Conductive Education Congress, held in Hong Kong and called East meets West, since which time – at least from a viewpoint outside China  Western and Oriental Conductive Education have shown little sign of moving towards understanding each other. It is interesting, therefore, to catch occasional glimpses of something in China that exists on a financial edge, as do many CE services in the West  and has the necessary capacity to generate the PR on which survival may depend, for example:

Massive differences, particularly this characteristically Chinese conductor-free Conductive Education, and the characteristically Chinese way of mixing approaches, but perhaps such glimpses into Shunling's world make it seem a little more more familiar...


Norman, C. (2009) Sisters' dream school offers hope of normality to cerebral palsy kids, Shanghai Daily, 18 November

Yan, A. (2014) Tycoon's villas turned into house of hope for cerebral palsy victims, South China Morning Post, 13 July

Friday, 11 July 2014


Not in his lifetime
But nearly

In two weeks' time President Shimon Perez of Israel will step down at the end of his seven-year term of office. During this time he established the award of the Presidential Medal of Distinction that recognises outstanding civilians in the same way as the army recognizes outstanding soldiers. 

He said that today's five honorees, representing different fields of endeavor, were chosen because they are superb role models for the younger generation. Each one had to struggle against odds – either by force of circumstance or because most people did not believe in what they were doing and tried to discourage them. But they persevered and succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

One of the five was Reuven Feuerstein who died on 29 April –
Feuerstein created a revolution in cognitive psychology and education, teaching children with developmental problems how to overcome them to develop their full potential. He died on April 29.
His son Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein, who is carrying on his work, accepted the medal in his name.