Wednesday, 26 July 2017


Business as usual?


Five days to go till D-Day (Tuesday 1 August will see the PAF's incorporation into the Semmeweiss Medical University).

The PAF's mostly Hungarian website has been silent for weeks now, with no further mention of the immanent change:

Its English- and Russian-language pages, devoted chiefly to marketing short-term services for foreign clients as par the PAF's 'health tourism' drive, have continued to operate as before, notifying sessions up until the end of 2017:

The Facebook page (unusually busy with feel-good stories) during recent months has gone quiet over the last few days:

All the above may be no more that par for the end of July, any year.

There is nothing to see yet on Semmelweis's site:

And there seems no interest in the Hungarian-language media during this apparent interregnum, except for news of off-site services' opening (Transylvania, Poland, Pécs).

Being the scenes, who knows? Countdown periods may create intensive work for those directly involved, and communication with the outside world may not be a priority.


Young adults' service impresses

Under the headline 'Fortschritt Niederpoking is starting a quality offensive', the Bavarian free newspaper Kreisbote remarks that the German Federal Government is moving slowly on inclusion. None the less, following a chance meeting at a conference in Berlin last November, this Fortschritt in Bavaria (South Germany) has begun a collaborative knowledge-exchange arrangement with another non-profit organisation, Adelby 1, a service for children and young people in Flensburg (North Germany) with a focus on inclusion.

Staff from Flensburg have been visiting Starnberg and have been being particular impressed by Starnberg's supervised off-site young adults' residential group though, as their leader said:

I have to admit, I've never heard of Conducting Education before.

While competent ministers in Berlin are still formulating the law on quality development in child care, the FortSchritt has already begun the quality campaign. It has agreed with 'Adelby 1' for a trans-Germany transfer of knowledge.

The visit from Flensburg is the beginning of a series of exchanges and counter-visits:

We want to look at the subjects of educational quality and inclusion as well as the administrative processes and learn from each other.

Starnberg's young adults' project

This was outlined on Conductive World some six weeks ago:

It is nice to see this CE inclusion project's being acknowledged outside the CE sector. One eagerly awaits wider reporting of its details.


– (2017) FortSchritt Niederpöcking startet Qualitätsoffensive, Kreisbote, 13 May

Tuesday, 25 July 2017


What if I were teaching psychology today?

What if I were still trying to teach an appropriate psychology to students preparing to become conductors?

L. S. Vygotskii...

Would I still teach about L. S. Vygotskii as the basis for the only possible developmental psychology  appropriate to an effective, transformative, developmental pedagogy – especially with respect to developmental disorders? 

I most certainly would.

Within this, thanks to the new information of Vygotskii and his times emerging over the last couple of decades, I would change certain emphases (especially with growing confirmation of may long-standing suspicions about the role of A. N. Leont'ev and activity theory).

And I should no longer feel that I were putting my students in an awkward and embarrassing position by decrying and condemning the vast misleading English-language literature of what I called 'pseudo-' and 'bourgeois-academic' Vygotskii, for outside the usual academic suspects the newer literature is gaining growing bulk and force. Thanks to the Internet students can readily source such material, much of which in published on explicitly political sites if they learn to separate sheep from wolves.

It is a shame that a couple of professional generations in the English-speaking West have been led so far up the garden path, but there you go. Some people regard neo-Vygotskian theory in the West as a progressive force in its time. I find it hard to agree. Still, the historical process continues and future students should have access to wider, more genuinely Vygotskian literature – that is if their teachers manage not to continue misleading them with neo-Vygotskian ideas picked up as part of their own professional socialisation.

There are some interesting contradictions here to work themselves out! It will time. It will be a waste. So it goes.

In the meantime I wonder what student-conductors following various training courses around the world are taught in the way of psychology. As far as I know no clue to this has been published on line.

If (Heaven forfend) I were in the position of having to teach such a course in 2017 what might I recommend them to read?

I assume that most students will be young or youngish people, and regard themselves as 'progressive'. I would start them off with a guided tour of an article by Jeremy Sawyer, a psychologist-activist in New York:

In talking  about this I would hope to guide them to be them aware of three things in particular:
  • some of the best stuff now published comes from an explicitly Marxist (though of course no longer Soviet) stance
  • this is barely mentioned by the neo-Vygotskian establishment
  • that the author, whatever else his virtues, seems to have no direct access to the Russian-language literature, and falls back upon neo-Vygotskian texts...
Plenty to find to talk about there!

Then I would hit them with some readings from Revisionist Revolution in Vygotsky Studies, edited by edited by Anton Yasnitsky and René van der Veer . 

Within the specifically Vygotskian component of a psychology for conductive pedagogy there are other things to add too, not least to impress that conductive pedagogy and upbringing are mutually dependent aspects of a greater whole.

And holism...

Outside the specifically Vygotskian heritage, there is plenty more to teach. I always included developmental ways of thinking and acting that are not simply transformative but could be described as dynamic, systemic, ecological, dialectical, reciprocal, reflexive, transactional, mediated, and/or holonomic and radical. In recent years here has been an increasing awareness apparent in accounts of Conductive Education of what people usually call 'holistic'. I too over the years have become more and more consciously aware of this practical and philosophical dimension of Conductive Education, at almost evert turn. No wonder: it is absolutely integral with the very concept of 'conductive'. One can hardly consider one without the other.

In teaching about this dimension, after explicitly distancing pop-psychology and new-age uses of the word 'holism', it would be time to introduce Goethean science and to try to explore the tradition of holistic medicine that András Pető would have known, a strand has been practically lost from medicine in some countries.

What a wonderful and otherwise impossible opportunity to teach directly from the small amount is actually available of what András Pető actually wrote on his motor therapy.

And what a wonderful opportunity to branch out into the possible conceptual links between this and the work of A. R. Luriya and his Romantic Science (and therefore with the much admired and highly readable work of Oliver Sacks), and of course back to L. S. Vygotskii and his tradition, perhaps not so simply Marxist as has been painted...

Mind you, this could be an even more exciting course to teach in Germany. I wonder what psychology will be presented to students on the new training course to commence in Nürnberg this coming semester.

What if...?

I guess that if I had been teaching psychology to student conductors over the last fifteen years, during which the number of conductor-training courses around the world has slowly edged up, I should have felt obliged to contact the emerging courses to see what we had in common and what might be learned from each other, as was dome by CEHEG years ago. We might have found ways to co-operate, converge even.

Perhaps this is being done. There is no reason that I should know if it is.

And perhaps the incorporation of the present PAF into Semmelweis Medical University will bring a new player on to the board of 'psychology for conductive pedagogy'.

The sort of psychology for conductive pedagogy courses that I would have in mind in 2017 would take a awful lot to work to elaborate and work up. Presumably others have quite different ideas of what student-conductors require in this respect. Good luck to them. It's their world. And good luck to Conductive Education within it.


Sawyer, J. (2014) Vygotsky’s revolutionary theory 
of psychological development, International Socialist Review, no 93, n.p.


After Brexit, what?
This morning the BBC reports a surprising figure –
The UK is 'overwhelmingly reliant' on EU workers to uphold animal welfare standards, a group of peers has warned.
The Lords EU Environment Committee said 90% of veterinary surgeons and 75% of abattoir workers were EU nationals and retaining them after Brexit was vital.
I wonder what an analogous figure might be for conductors in the UK.
Similar or not, in the run-up to Brexit I doubt that conductors will concern the House of Lords, or any other official body, in the same way.

Some countries will of course show a higher figure, but they have no Brexit to raise possible concerns.

Monday, 24 July 2017


Something else from abroad

Related image

The forthcoming incorporation of what is now the PAF (the András Pető College) into the Semmelweis Medical University has prompted attention once again to the fact that 'the Pető method' is not the only approach and not the only service for motor-disordered children developed in Hungary:

Attempts over the years have been made to direct attention to the existence of others. This weekend I have been reminded of this very short item:

There were a few such items in the nineteen-eighties and nineteen-nineties They hail from another era. With the subsequent withdrawal of official and academic interest in special pedagogy in favour of 'special needs' in the United Kingdom, and in much of the rest of English-speaking world, there has been decreasing prospect of further international interest in this topic. 

To put it bluntly, despite all those years in European Union, the United Kingdom still does not want to learn from what they do abroad if this looks likes being radically different. 


Alston, J. (1987) Educating physically handicapped children in Hungary: not just Conductive Education, European Journal of Special Needs Education, Vol. 2, no 3, p. 208

Alston. J. (1989) Special education in Hungary: patterns of professional development, programmes for physically handicapped children, and new directions of professional concern and research, European Journal of Special Needs Education, Vol. 4, no 1, pp. 5-

Gee, A. M. (1990) Mexikói út – a special school in Hungary, European Journal of Special Needs Education, Vol. 5, no 3, pp. 5-

Sutton, A. (1986) Social-historical context, in P. J. Cottam and A. Sutton (eds) Conductive Education: a system for overcoming motor disorders, London, Croom Helm, pp. 3-26

Saturday, 22 July 2017


A Facebook-blog

Four days ago conductor Ida Igra started a bold new venture, in effect a blog on Facebook, written in Russian. Yesterday evening she explained further. In loose English translation  –

I am a rehabilitation specialist for children, young people and adults with cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, autism, a delays in speech and language and motor development.

For more than twenty years I have been working using various methods, including the method of conductive pedagogy (Pető). I have long-term experience of rehabilitation at the Tsad Kadima rehabilitation centre (Israel), as well in organising and delivering rehabilitation courses (individual and group) for children in Israel, Ireland, England, USA, France, Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia and Estonia.

What can I do?
  • Diagnose cerebral palsy and delays in mental, motor, speech and intellectual development
  • Develop a comprehensive rehabilitation plan for all areas of child development, such as gross and specific motor skills (movement – purposeful crawling, sitting, walking, hand movements, etc.), intellectual and psychological development, development of play, communication and speech skills, self-help skills (for example, independent eating), etc. – through the unique method of conductive pedagogy that aims to create a child's active personality, diagnosis notwithstanding.
  • Teach parents and other adults working with a child ways to achieve given rehabilitation goals.
  • Select rehabilitation equipment in accordance with the tasks facing the child and parents at whatever stage of development.
  • Educate parents for a positive approach to the task before them, teach the child an active way of life, close to the way of life of peers with no developmental delay. advance the child with simultaneous personal growth for family members.
  • Psychological support for parents, grandparents, siblings of children with developmental delay -- from the moment when parents or other adults around the child have noticed and realised that such a delay exists.
I will be glad to answer all your questions.

All health, happiness and faith in success!

One to watch. A window on to the East!

A previous posting on Ida

* реабилитолог – reabilitolog

Friday, 21 July 2017


Still trying after all of these days

In 2010, when blogging about Conductive Education was a flourishing field, I signed the pledge to blog with integrity:

By displaying the Blog with Integrity badge or signing the pledge, I assert that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is important to me.

I treat others respectfully, attacking ideas and not people. I also welcome respectful disagreement with my own ideas.

I believe in intellectual property rights, providing links, citing sources, and crediting inspiration where appropriate.

I disclose my material relationships, policies and business practices. My readers will know the difference between editorial, advertorial, and advertising, should I choose to have it. If I do sponsored or paid posts, they are clearly marked.

When collaborating with marketers and PR professionals, I handle myself professionally and abide by basic journalistic standards.

I always present my honest opinions to the best of my ability.

I own my words. Even if I occasionally have to eat them.

There have been massive changes in many things since 2010. Perhaps that is why it seems such an age ago, to me anyway

The number of conductive bloggers has now shrunk considerably – not uniquely. Conductive World hangs on.

It is up to readers to judge how far Conductive World has succeeded in meeting the ideals of the above pledge. And it is up to readers to comment and criticise accordingly.

Original posting, and the qualification therein: 

Blog with Integrity

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


Project in neighbouring country

Reported in the newspaper Magyar Kurir, a summer experience for children and adults kicked off on 10 July in the Romanian town of Alba Iulia (Gyulafehérvár in Hungarian), under joint sponsorship of the local Caritas charity.

Initially 21 adults with late-onsetting conditions and 27 children were to be served, with possibility of admitting more as and when further conductors became available.

Magyar Kurier is a Catholic news portal. The Pető Institute has featured quite often in its pages:

The reasons behind these out-of country programmes may be complex. Certainly, however, they are bringing experiences of Conductive Education to populations that might never even have heard of it, to a degree rarely if ever seen anywhere else in the world:

As an aside...

This is another example of the rarely questioned assumption within Conductive Education that work with adults means work with adults who have  late-onsetting conditions, in this specific instance exemplified specifically as Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis.

Why not also adults of any age, who have early-onsetting conditions? Like cerebral palsy for example?


A relevant way to go
Worth saying again...

Liverpool John Moores University Coat of Arms.jpg

SROI (Social Return on Investment)

SROI analysis uses a combination of qualitative, quantitative and financial information to estimate the amount of ‘value’ created or destroyed by a project, which is typically expressed thus –
For every £1 invested in the project, £x of social value is creat
(Nicholls et al., 2012)
Fundamentally, SLOI is about value rather than money, and the report's concluding remarks (p. 26) make this point well.
As far as I know, the only CE service to have been evaluated by this means is Stick'n'Step:
The improvements identified clustered into four groups:
  • improvements in health and well-being
  • increase in mobility
  • socialising
  • learning new skills
And tellingly –

For every £1 spent by Stick 'n' Step, £4.89 of social value was created.
This precise figure will not of course generalise across the dazzling array of practices, circumstances, services etc. that fall under the general term 'Conductive Education. It must be inevitably situation-specific, applying to given services at a given time.
A minor criticism of the study at Stick'n'Step
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.  (ibid.)
This notwithstanding, this seems as about the most relevant model for producing the sort of research evidence that is requested by officials and politicians, and by parents and the media. It is evaluation rather than 'academic research', but none the worse for that.

I myself regard the demonstration of this approach to evaluating Conductve Education as a major step forward for Conductive Education. The value of this particular study carried out at Stick'n'Step by John Moore's University has been confirmed by no less than NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence):
Such a shame...
that over the three years since this study was reported no one else has done the same. Or maybe I am missing something.
Previous mentions on Conductive World


The published report for this study can no longer be found on Stick'n'Step's website, but on the site of John Moore's University:

My thanks to Craig Neilson of the CE Taranaki Trust in New Zealand for pointing this out to me:


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

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

Optimity Advisors (2015) Community Engagement – approaches to improve health and reduce health inequalities. Review of Social Return on Investment (SROI) evaluations, London, NICE, July

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