Friday, 13 October 2017

András Pető

Falling angel

Come fare pronostici vincenti - La Vera Scommessa.

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

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.

(Plus an urgent job advert!)
Pilot for possible national network

The opening of PTØ's new centre and HQ has been brought forward to 1 February and links with existing services are being developed in advance of this:

Also new is that PTØ has been accepted to participate in a new nationwide project, ParkinsonNet. This systemic approach was developed in the Netherlands and is now to be piloted in the Norwegian context. Already (to the outsider) it seems to manifest potentially Norwegian characteristics of official support, flexibility, client choice, and resources.

Elements of the ParkinsonNet model:
  • systematic education and training of current professions, including use of relevant professional guidelines
  • good information for patients and relatives, e.g. through learning/mastery courses, brochures and web-based information
  • establishment of effective communication between professionals in specialist health services and the municipality, between patients and, possibly. also between patients and therapists
  • monitoring and publishing relevant data on treatment facilities, impact of measures and interventions
This two-year pilot project is being run by the Department of Health in cooperation with the national Parkinson's society and a national centre for movement disorders. It will be very interesting to see how conductive practice adapts and develops within this particular, favoured context.

A major step here for PTØ, is a possible future involving a nationwide Parkinson's system.

Job vacancy

Meanwhile – such major strategic developments aside – routine conductive work has to go on, so PTØ is advertising urgently for a conductor for its established children's and young adults' services for the rest of this term:

Don't speak Norwegian? Few do! But you can get a long way in Norway with English, as others will testify....

Most recent on PTØ

Friday, 6 October 2017

Hunting that most elusive snark

Karl Otto Bärnklau was a pseudonym
of András Pető's – alledgedly

This note was written in February 2016 but for some reason was not posted on line at that time. Inconclusive though it is, it ought not to remain in the private domain. Unheilbare Krankheiten? is no longer on ZWAB's list. Presumably someone bought it.

1. Unfug der Krankenheit – Triumph der Heilkunst ('Nonsense of illness – triumph of the art of healing'). Hardback

2. Gibt es unheilbare Krankheiten? Nein! ('Are there incurable diseases? No!'). Paperback

As part of our self-imposed task of trying to formalise and disseminatewhat is actually knowable about András Pető, his life and work, as opposed to myth, fantasy, rumour and wishful thinking, Gill Maguire and I have turned brief attention to pinning down the dates of the two books that he published in Western Germany, one in 1965 and the other, well, whenever he did.

They were published by separate companies. As far as I am can see the two companies were not connected – other than by having a common interest in the esoteric.

The softback and the hardback versions have overlapping contents but are not identical. Conductive pedagogy figures explicitly only in small measure in these two books, this mainly through inclusion of a couple of pages attributed to Otto Klein on page 70 of the hardback edition, though unattributed on page 72 of the softback, on which Susie Mallett has commented as follows –
I have a report in German, by Otto Klein written in 1962 after he had visited András Pető and observed his work. I cannot find a single passage in it that corresponds to what is quoted from Klein in Unfug on pages 70-72, although Klein‘s report does contain some of the information that Bärnklau used. The Unfug chapter that refers to Otto Klein has a completely different style to Otto Klein‘s own writing. Perhaps, as the advert that I found for Unfug said, it has been „reworked“, it certainly maintains the old-fashioned style of the rest of the book. Perhaps Bärnklau got the information from a completely different article to the one that I have. Who knows? I doubt that we ever will!

The two books are in German.

Publication of the hardback

The hardback, was published in Hannau/Main, to the north of Germany, near Frankfürt, in what during the Cold War was West Germany. The book has its date of publication clearly indicated in an appropriate place: 1965. It is called Unfug der Krankenheit – Triumph der Heilkunst ('Nonsense of illness – triumph of the art of healing').

The author is given is Dr Med Karl Otto Bärnklau (literally, 'Bear's Claw'). It has been widely reported that this is a pseudonym adopted by Andras Peto for these two books – and there has been no reason not to accept this. I have not see his using this particular pseudonym elsewhere. 

This book's date of publication is not a problem either.  

Publication of the softback

This is also in German and called Gibt es unheilbare Krankheiten? Nein! ('Are there incurable diseases? No!'). Again, the author is given as Dr Med Karl Otto Bärnklau.

This is a nicely bound softback. There is no indication of its date of publication. Online listings, however, offer some indication, albeit inconsistent.
  • Google Books puts its date of publication as 1970. Perhaps Google Books knows something that the rest of us do not, but it does not share its source.
  • is not so sure and puts publication date as 'ca. 1960'. Again, no source is given. Most antiquariats (second-hand book shops) choose discretion over valour and, as I have done in the past, simply put 'no date'.
The Rudolph'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, publisher of the paperback, had been founded in Dresden back in 1894. In the nineteen-thirties, thirteen of its books were sufficiently off-message to be banned by the Nazis.

When the War was over, the Rudolph'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung continued for a while in Dresden. The city found itself in the Eastern side of divided Germany and in 1948 the company moved to Lindau in the south of what was then Western Germany. Its lists included esoteric topics. In the nineteen sixties it had been among Germany's best-known non-fiction publishers, its publications including German translations of the Karma Sutra and the Marquis de Sade. It remained in Lindau till around 1970 when it was absorbed by two other publishers, themselves both now defunct.


There are always mysteries where András Pető is concerned!

Never mind just the dates of publication – to me there remain further unanswered questions around these two books:
  • why/how at all, during the Cold War, did András Pető publish these two books in Western Germany, through two separate publishing houses on the other side of the Iron Curtain from where he lived in Hungary?
  • and nowadays, why is the content of these books apparently so studiously ignored, not least by German-speakers working within Conductive Education?
  • mention of Dresden is intriguing because, so the story goes, in the nineteen-thirties András Pető used from time to time to disappear from Vienna – to Dresden where the hagiography goes he was engaged in publishing (i.e. in the Third Reich – Nazi Germany).
As for the content of these two books, Susie Mallett appears the only one to have considered this, in various postings on her Conductor blog.


Bärnklau, K. O. (1964) Unfug der Krankenheit – Triumph der Heilkunst, Hannau/Main, Verlag Karl Schustek

Bärnklau, K. O. (n.d.) Gibt es unheilbare Krankheiten? Nein! Lindau: Rudolph'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung

Mallett, S. (2010) The story of a search for books, Conductor, 8 September

Thursday, 5 October 2017



The anniversary of Mária's death will be commemorated tomorrow at 11 in the morning by a symposium to be held at the Institute building in Vilányi út in Budapest.

The event comprises a welcome, three presentations, a wreath-laying and a 'senior cafe'.

Previous item on this topic

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

And says... nothing?

Image result for "deans stroke musings"

Dean's Stroke Musings comprises a most remarkable blog, much visited and, I suspect, respected and influential. Sometimes rather angry too. If your CE involves strokes this is a must-see. And not just for strokes...

Shortly after getting out of the hospital and getting NO information on the process or protocols of stroke rehabilitation and recovery I started searching on the internet and found that no other survivor received useful information. This is an attempt to cover all stroke rehabilitation information that should be readily available to survivors so they can talk with informed knowledge to their medical staff. It's quite disgusting that this information is not available from every stroke association and doctors group. 

But over the years, as far as I can tell, Dean has always picked his way through this forest of information without ever mentioning Conductive Education. Now at last he has taken it up, a red-letter day surely, indeed:

And what does he say?

Zilch. He gives the abstract and the opening of a research article, plus the following piece of advice:

You'll have to ask your doctor and stroke hospital if they have any clue what this is and its comparison to standard therapy.

Er... that's it. What is he signalling? Is it something that people in CE ought to hear?