Tuesday, 29 July 2014

HUNGARY'S ORBAN: 'OUR TIME WILL COME'

I do most sincerely hope not
A month or so ago a relative of mine took a package tour to Budapest, her first visit to Hungary. Before she went she asked me what she might see and do in her few days there. As I talked to her I could not but reveal just how vividly the city and the society are burned into my mind.
'Why don't you come with us?' she asked 'You obviously love the place.'

How lame it sounded that bright summer's day in Middle England to tell someone about to have the break of a lifetime – in the middle of Europe – that I could not bear the idea of setting foot in Hungary ever again while the current regime remains in power. As she pointed out, I am hardly known to be a 'man of principle'. Quite right, I never boycotted South African grapefruit during Apartheit. But those who did might understand something of how I feel about Hungary under Fidesz.

My not wishing to go to Hungary is not a boycott – though it will be interesting to see whether liberal opinion in the West does eventually spot the nature and direction of the present Hungarian regime and looks as it often does to boycott weapons, financial and economic, cultural and academic, to express its disapproval. At the moment I have no reason not to continue such contacts that I have over matters to do with Conductive Education.

No, this is something more emotional. A mix of revulsion and fear.

Self-indugant and over the top? Perhaps. But try this for size, excerpted from an article by Zoltan Simon for Bloomberg News

Orban says he seeks to end liberal democracy in Hungary

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he wants to abandon liberal democracy in favor of an 'illiberal state', citing Russia and Turkey as examples. 'The global financial crisis in 2008 showed that liberal democratic states can’t remain globally competitive,' Orban said on July 26 at a retreat of ethnic Hungarian leaders in Baile Tusnad, Romania. 'I don’t think that our European Union membership precludes us from building an illiberal new state based on national foundations,' Orban said... He listed Russia, Turkey and China as examples of 'successful' nations, 'none of which is liberal and some of which aren’t even democracies.'...

The Hungarian prime minister is distancing himself from values shared by most EU nations even as his government relies on funds from the bloc for almost all infrastructure-development financing in the country. Orban said civil society organizations receiving funding from abroad need to be monitored as he considers those to be agents of foreign powers. 'We’re not dealing with civil society members but paid political activists who are trying to help foreign interests here'…

Orban said his 'illiberal democracy' won’t deny the 'fundamental values' of liberalism, such as 'freedom.'

'The point of the future is that anything can happen,' Orban said. 'That means it could easily be that our time will come.


Revulsion? Either you understand what I mean or I cannot explain it. 

Fear? Nothing direct or specific that affects me personally here and now. For the future, however, something less direct, spreading and affecting many, many more than just me. That chilling phrase, 'Our time will come', carries too many raw associations.

For the future

From 1 September the Pető Institute will no longer be an NGO but nationalised under the direct control of the state. One of its apparent intentions is to have greater contact with Conductive Education outside Hungary. Look out for it. And even if it does not come to you, don't forget that the next World Congress is promised to be in Budapest.

Meanwhile my relative had a wonderful time in Budapest. She hopes to get back there soon, to see some of the things that she knows that she missed. I really envy her. Such a wonderful country. Such a paradox.

Reference

Simon, Z. (2014) Orban says he seeks to end liberal democracy in Hungary, Bloomberg News, 28 July

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-28/orban-says-he-seeks-to-end-liberal-democracy-in-hungary.html



RESEARCHING PARENTS AND CONDUCTIVE EDUCATION

Where does your conductive practice stand on two continua?
The formal abstract of a fairly recent systematic review of FCS ('family-centred services') –
During the past two decades, awareness of the role of the family in the child's life has increased and the term 'family-centred services' (FCS) has been introduced to facilitate care for children with special needs and their families. It is, however, unclear how various early intervention programmes incorporate family involvement in service delivery. The present study systematically analyses the nature of family involvement in six frequently used early intervention programmes for infants at high risk of developmental disorders: neuro-developmental treatment, treatment according to Vojta, Conductive Education, Infant Health and Development Program, Infant Behaviour Assessment and Intervention Program, and Coping with and Caring for infants with special needs  a family-centred programme (COPCA). The analysis shows that the role of the family is diverse: it varies from parent training to be a therapist without attention to family function (in Vojta) to the autonomous family that receives coaching (COPCA). The data suggest two trends over time: (1) from child-focused to family-focused orientation; and (2) from professionally directed guidance to coaching based on equal partnership.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21950397

Your practice?

I suspect that Conductive Education practices around the world – everywhere – lie scattered across along both the continua that the authors propose:
  • child-focused to family-focused orientation
  • professionally directed guidance to coaching based on equal partnership.
Well, where does yours lie?

The literature lag

The article itself summarise the role of parents in Conductive Education thus –

Parents are welcome to discuss problems with the conductor but education focuses on the achievements of the child. A specific role of the family has not been described

The two publications that this is based upon date from 1984 and 1991 (to add insult to injury here, the journal's referencing here is just not up to scratch for an academic publishing house of this status).

It is instructive to see how, even in a major international paediatric journal, the 'academic literature' on Conductive Education simply fails to reflect so many real developments in conductive practice over the last twenty years of so. But it is not alone to be blamed. What more could Conductive Education itself be doing to address this? 

To FCS and beyond...

Family-centred services are a progressive trend in contemporary habilitation. Conductive Education could do worse than explore the experience and articulations of FCS, lean from them where appropriate, and make sure that CE is recognised (some of it anyway) as standing up there among the leaders.

As described in the paper referred to here, FCS is a progressive trend within the existing paradigm. What is there to be seen here and there in Conductive Education around the world, that transforms FCS to a newer, higher level?

Of course, you are quite free not to tell, and everyone knows what it is like to be 'too busy'... So the world might never know.

So it goes, all too often in Conductive Education. Possibly never to be heard of again.

Reference

Dirks, T., Hadders-Algra, M. (2011) The role of the family in intervention of infants at high risk of cerebral palsy: a systematic analysis. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, vol.53, Suppl. 4, pp. 62-67


Monday, 28 July 2014

A FRESH START

Idea goes back to 2008

Launched today in a flurry of announcements on CE social-networking sites is a new, interdisciplinary service based in Maidenhead in the sunny South of England:


Marbles Movement and Learning offers services to children and families of all ages, with any conditions likely to respond, and in any context into which it can be incorporated. Interventions available include:
  • Conductive Education
  • Devény Technique
  • Physiotherapy (including kinesiotaping)
  • Planned Sensomotoric Training
NB, this does not propose 'multi-disciplinary' practice in the sense of a blended mix. It is a multiple-resource service – interdisciplinary.

Jobs may be available. Possible further collaborators are invited to be in touch.

Fees are competitive and clients can view their accounts and their documentation electronically.

This is not a charity but a further example of a commercial service providing for disabled children and adults, their families, and others.

Commercial vs Charitable

Maidenhead sits in a well-healed belt stretching west of London. HMQ is a near neighbour. But in 2014 people in the United Kingdom are beginning to realise that privately services tailored to their need are not just something that the rich can take for granted – but may be the only way for any citizens to achieve a degree of choice and access to their preferred services, whatever their means. *

And it may also be the only way in which conductors can have a hand in determining the direction and content of their services and how they are run.

The commercial relationship has its faults, but it does offer tried and familiar ways for consumers and providers to relate with each other. Charitably funded provision might promise advantages at start-up time, but in then longer term the charitable relationship is not regarded as unproblematical in the wider world of disability provision. Interesting times.

Information (quite a lot)


______________
* This does not of course rule out the possibilities for commercial services' bidding competitively with 'charitable' ones for contracts from the state sector. We do live in interesting times.

OH BE JOYFUL

A thought for future evaluation studies

I have recently in all innocence failed to grant Alex MacNeil the credit due for something that she wrote. I was confused, and was properly corrected:


Inter alia I had written –

It is apparent that, of the service models explored within CE over the last few years, analogies to [Alex's] proposed model might offer one of the happiest.

I must therefore not fail to acknowledge the following idea, found yesterday in a posting on Alex MacNeil's own blog –

They have introduced a "joy" measure. Instead of measuring what they do in terms of what other people think is important for learning disability services, they decided to measure their activities in terms of how much joy they bring people. 

Now there's something that can be observed in Conductive Education, in spades, something to throw into the melting pot when considering future evaluation studies... if such there are to be.

Reference

MacNeal, A. (2013) Find joy everywhere, Live the life you love (blog), 3 October
http://alex-macneil.squarespace.com/live-the-life-you-love/2013/10/3/find-joy-everywhere


Sunday, 27 July 2014

NORMAN FROM HEART AND SHOULDER

'I am done...'

To summarise an extensive and passionate cri de coeur from Norman Perrin, from the Facebook page '#LBBill ' –

'I am done...
  • 'Done with the lack of surprise I feel at the news of yet another poor service in the system.
  • 'Done with the despair I feel when another good person... feels that being part of the system and trying to change it from within is increasingly compromising, thankless and futile.
  • 'Done with social care workers who tell me... “we don’t do that”.
  • 'Done with my own personal belief that care homes can’t ever work and personal budgets will change the world...
  • 'But I am particularly, utterly and completely done with the perceptions of powerlessness at every level...
  • 'Managers who consider themselves powerless...
  • 'Front-line support workers who consider themselves powerless...
  • 'Directors and assistant directors of adult services who consider themselves powerless....
  • 'And now, a care minister who talks a refreshingly good talk but appears to be all out of fresh ideas...
'Here is my plan for service-land:
  • 'Prioritise all resources towards the team of people who personally provide the support and its manager.
  • 'And no-one else.
  • 'Stop paying operational managers, regional managers, directors, tender writers, internal comms teams, website developers, support planners.
  • 'Stop commissioning services from corporations or even medium sized providers.
  • 'Only commission services from small, single service teams who each run as stand-alone small businesses.
  • 'Each team is a single service with no responsibility, focus or accountability beyond their own practice.
  • 'Large scale institutions are now anathema to us, let’s do the same with large scale organisations which purportedly support these homes whilst remaining incapable of ensuring quality care
'Let’s stop agreeing to put money into roles that have no bearing on the quality of the support relationship and use it to properly fund focussed, accountable small single services instead...'

Read it all... 

...and the comments that it has sparked:


Think about this not just in terms of adult care homes but also project it on to the future establishment and management of Conductive Education around the world  and a lot else besides. It is apparent that, of the service models explored within CE over the last few years, analogies to Norman's proposed model might offer one of the happiest.

I am always a little ashamed at being an inveterate effer and blinder, and very well aware that there are many who are most noticeably not. Norman is one of the latter.  


Saturday, 26 July 2014

DRIP, DRIP, DRIP

English colloquial expression

For some reason, I know not why, three days ago Google Alerts circularised the following little note to everyone around the world registered to receive latest uploaded information on Conductive Education –
"conductive education"

As-it-happens update ⋅ July 23, 2014
Effects of conductive education for children with a diagnosis of cerebral palsy
National Center for Biotechnology Information
This review addressed the effects of conductive education in children with cerebral palsy. The authors concluded that the quality of evidence was insufficient to determine whether conductive education is effective or not. Despite attempts to capture all study types, restricting studies to those published in English may have had a significant impact on the review's findings. The authors' conclusions are appropriately cautious.

Wearing away the stone

A tiny thing, of no consequence in itself, but a sign for all that 
Drip, drip, drip: used to describe a process in which something bad happens very slowly.
Definition from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary and Thesaurus, Cambridge University Press


No conspiracy theory is required...

...and none is offered here. This notification that I received is just the product of established information and academic systems that are doing the job for which they are designed for. This is not the doing of Johanna Darrah and her colleagues who reviewed outcome studies all those years ago (2003) and were just doing their job according to how they were supposed to do it. 

Presumably the same gristle will continue to be chewed over and over, again and again, perhaps by information systems as yet unenvisaged, till new data come along to be fed into the analysis – that is if new data are ever generated to meet required criteria – or until fresh approaches to researching and evaluating Conductive Education are employed.

So...?


Friday, 25 July 2014

NEW WELCOME PAGE

e-conduction
WELCOME TO E-CONDUCTION

The online portal to

Conductive Education


This site links you a wealth of online information on Conductive Education through a single click of the mouse or just one more, rarely through more than three clicks.

e-conduction is a knowledge portal opening on to what is knowable of Conductive Education available through the Internet and beyond, thousands and thousands of words: 
  • current news, newspapers and other news outlets, blogs, discussion (a little), politics
  • articles, books, dissertations and theses, library facilities,  research and evaluation
  • facts, information, views, comment, criticism, practical and academic materials, technical reports, conference papers
  • conductive pedagogy and conductive upbringing, conductor-training courses  
  • job adverts and where conductors are employed now
  • some history and geography, and lots more that is quite unclassifiable
  • new quotations every time that you log on to or refresh certain pages (from the CEP Quotationary)
e-conduction brings together materials from around the world. Most links are to materials in the English language – because in 2014 that is what the Internet is like – but other languages will be increasingly be found here as interest in Conductive Education spreads around the world.

Most of what you will find costs nothing to read, but expect to have to pay to see many articles published on line by academic journals. 

More materials of every kind are being slowly added to e-conduction. Not all the links in e-conduction are working at a given time. You are very welcome to question what you find here, or to suggest links to additional material.

Click below to enter e-conduction. The links that you find within will take you further, then it is up to you. The Internet is a jumble. Some of what is available on line is very good indeed, most of it is very enthusiastic but not very well informed. Some of it is really awful. Always read what you find critically. Always question what you read, and form your own opinions.

Quote of the day
If his instructions were not followed accurately, if some 'improvisation' happened as he put it, he became extremely upset. He flushed, yelled, shook his fist, pushed the sinner out of the door. But as quickly as he lost his temper, he soon forgot it. He smiled, gave a kiss on the forehead, offered a book or a nice poem.Júlia Dévai

Coming soon
e-conduction will be operationalising further new pages.

Thanks to conductor Ben Foulger for setting up this page
ParticipantTracker  is a system designed by Ben to simplify and streamline the process of tracking and documenting progress in Conductive Education:

Thursday, 24 July 2014

ONLINE SYMPOSIUM

Interesting topic – interesting model

Announcement
Symposium

'Modern Makarenko studies: history, current state and prospects'

An international symposium will be held in October 2014, with participation from academics and practitioners from Germany, Japan, Norway, Russia and Ukraine. The purpose of the symposium is to characterize the current state of development and operation of the pedagogical heritage of Anton Makarenko, to present the story of Makarenko Studies in individual countries around the world, and identify critical issues and areas for further work. The symposium will be conducted in real time, in the form of an Internet conference. The results of the symposium will be published in electronic form, which will be awarded an ISB number.

Materials for discussion are now available on line. These will be mainly of use to Russian-speakers though nowadays never forget the growing power of online machine translation, though one (from Joar Aasen in Norway) is presented here in English:


The message and the medium

As potentially relevant as is the content of this Symposium to the world of Conductive Education with all its talk of groups still awaiting the academic anchor of theorisation, the model of this online research conference will also bear watching to see what can be learned and adapted from it, from what is done, how it looks, and what is achieved – at what little financial cost.

Previous item on this symposium


Reference

(2014) «Современное макаренковедение: история, состояние, перспективы», Minsk University





Wednesday, 23 July 2014

RERAILING VYGOTSKII

Fresh thinking

Through combination of ideological and linguistic misunderstandings, some hapless some an offence to any scholarly process, L. S. Vygotskii has had a very poor run in the Western world. That has not of course had anything to do with the man himself or with his work and its implications, most of which have remained largely unknown.

This has not stopped the appearance of uncountable books, and articles, conference presentations, lectures, dissertations and theses, students' assignments – jobs, careers, hierarchies of esteem, jollies, talk, talk talk...

A whole new accepted wisdom has been created, an academic orthodoxy, a vast 'literature', bolstered by the intellectual might of academic publishing, representing philosophies and social purposes of covert class interest, and often stated in words that few if any might understand. A lot of money has flowed.

For 'Vygotsky' the good times have certainly rolled. Across the Western world they have rolled over the achievements of the short life of the man whom I still think of as Vygotskii (I find this spelling a useful though not always watertight distinction to make with 'Vygotsky with a y', a commodity that is largely a creation of American academe). The Vygotskian boom in the West has achieved such force, size and momentum as to seem unstoppable, a self-evident truth that seems set to run for ever, like for example psycho-analysis, neuro-babble or biogenic understandings of human thinking.

Almost all based upon mistranslation, misunderstanding, even outright misrepresentation, certainly fulfilling many needs...

Fresh thinking

In the 21st century there slowly emerges a parallel tendency, at least in the English language where most of the damage has been done, attempting to by-pass the 'Vygotskian' dross, and re-examine the matter if not from first principles at least from fresh ones. Here for example are the concluding words from an extensive review of just one point in Vygotskii's story, the 'ban' on his his work and ideas in the Soviet Union that followed soon after his death, written by Jennifer Fraser and Anton Yasnitsky–
...within our collective memory of Lev Vygotsky, there has been a growing historiographical trend whereby many central tenets of his personal and professional narrative have been increasingly challenged by twenty-first century educators, psychologists, and historians of psychology. This explosion of critical literature endeavors to correct both the distortions and mischaracterizations of Vygotsky’s ideas present within both the English translations of his writings, and the biographical accounts authored by many of his self-proclaimed 'Western followers'. Determined to debunk the many inconsistencies, contradictions, and fundamental flaws within the 'Vygotskian literature' that have been perpetuated by North American scholars such as Michael Cole, James Wertsch, and their associates, this new generation of scholars has started to criticize the many inaccurate 'versions of Vygotsky' that have been in currency throughout the late twentieth century. These individuals have all undertaken the complex task of deconstructing the popular image of Vygotsky and have effectively undermined the historical persona that has been embedded into the disciplines of history, psychology, pedagogy and education studies. By questioning previous interpretations of the ‘Vygotsky ban' and by providing readers with an accurate and coherent account of the events that took place within the years of 1934-1956, this study can be seen as augmenting this growing body of critical literature that advocates for a ‘revisionist reading’ of both Vygotsky’s life and developmental theory.
Back on track?

Will this fresh tendency succeed in getting Vygotskii up and running smoothly on track in the Western world? And if so, is the track headed towards the widespread enthusiasm of the boom years. Probably not, as it hard to imagine a foreseeable future in the West with a powerful need for such ideas and practices. Good luck to the revisionists in their struggle anyway.

And good luck too to fresh thinking and revisionists in Conductive Education.

Reference

Fraser, J., Yasnitsky, A, (n.d.) Deconstructing Vygotsky’s victimization narrative: a re-examination of the 'Stalinist suppression' of Vygotskian theory, unpublished manuscript

A previous item on this theme

Sutton, A. (2013) The wheels of God: so exceeding slow, Conductive World, 13 June
http://www.conductive-world.info/2013/06/the-wheels-of-god.html

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

DEVELOPMENT DERAILED

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.

Reference

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

An English translation: