Wednesday, 22 March 2017


Is there a better question?

This is how I addressed this question four years ago:

My vague impression is that things might be a little less black and white now than they were back then but I do not know how general this may be. The expression seemed to have arise from the Hungarian word tiszta which means 'clean', 'pure', 'undiluted', 'plain', 'unalloyed', etc. One also hears or reads in English the notion of 'pure Conductive Education'.

As the range of activities spoken of as Conductive Education grows ever wider, in terms of training programmes and models of service-provision, there seems little recorded discussion of questions such as these:
  • What is 'clean' or 'pure' conductive pedagogy'?
  • Is this the same as what in Germany some people refer to Petð-pur?
  • Is its opposite: 'dirty',  'impure', 'diluted' 'alloyed'...?
  • Does one ever see explicit criteria for 'pure conductive pedagogy', or even 'Pure Pető'?
  • Historically and substantively, is tiszta konduktiv pedagógia a tenable construct?
  • Or is it just a smokescreen or a slogan – and if so, for what?
  • What sort of problems does all this cause?
  • And what is wrong with alloys anyway?
Perhaps there are different, better questions to be asked in 2017. What are they?

Tuesday, 21 March 2017


He's back...

Those who like me have missed the regular blog postings by Ralph Strzałkowski over the last year may share my own delight at seeing the Lawyer on Wheels back on line, and as fresh as ever in his views:

He has had quite a year, revelling in his burgeoning legal career and very involved as an activist with his disability charity. He may even write another book.

I do hope that Ralph will be blogging regularly again like he used to, and that some of his postings will again include his characteristically frank (and sometimes acerbic) insights into Conductive Education. The experiences and analyses of those who have grown up with motor disorders and who have taken a first-hand part in conductive pedagogy have an essential contribution to make if Conductive Education is to get its act together in the twenty-first century. Like many another matter, this is too important to be left to the professionals.

If the drive for Conductive Education is to be as holistic as its philosophy implies it should be, then it has to incorporate the understandings and aspirations of the whole population that knows it, in whatever ways

Ralph was born with cerebral palsy, in 1979. He grew up grew up in Poland and from 1986 to 1990 was a pupil at the then Pető Institute. After a law degree in his home country he moved to Florida, and trained and practises there as an attorney. In 2103 he inaugurated the charity FDAAF (the Florida Disability Access and Awareness Foundation), a small organisation with big ideas.

A collection of 53 of his earlier blog postings, relating to growing up with cerebral palsy, life under Conductive Education, making a new life in the United States, and related matters, was published in 2013. In that year he was also a Keynote Speaker at the Eighth World CE Congress in Germany.


FDAFF (Florida Disability Access and Awareness Foundation)

Lawyer on Wheels (blog)

Congress Keynote (abstract)

Never, Never Quit. My Conductive Education, Birmingham, CEP, 2013 (book)


Strzałkowski,R. (2017) A year in my life, Lawyer on Wheels, 21 March











Monday, 20 March 2017


A quieter, less hectic day

Except for salvo from opposition MP Tímea Szabó (Dialogue Party) on morning TV:

And later a soothing public statement about continuity of conductive services in all departments of PAF, from  Rector Andrea Zsebe:

Looking forward to a peaceful evening!


Straight, impassioned talking from Hungary

Ildikó Berente, on Facebook –

A conductor is a PEDAGOGUE, not a provider … The conductor acquires the PEDAGOGIC SYSTEM, the pedagogical system founded by András Pető. The Pető system of pedagogy!
Since a disability is for ever, and does not go away, Pető believed that the disabled should receive conductive pedagogy for the rest of their lives! Those who deny this deny András Pető his life's work and that of his closest colleague in bringing the Pető method to the world, and spit in the face of Dr Mária Hári …
Thanks to the brave ones', to those who dared not to sign the humiliating downgrade of their qualifications in their contract, and to those conductors who are getting on with the job, despite these events

I do hope that the above just about catches the spirit and gist of what Ildikó writes this morning. Those many whose Hungarian is better than mine are welcome to improve on it.

Ildikó's full facebook page is a useful CE resource, on more that this recent unpleasantness:


Berente, I. (2017) Pedagógus a konduktor? IGEN!!!  P. – 'sérültnek az életük végéig...' [Is the conductor a pedagogue? YES!!!  P.– 'disabled till the end of their lives'...], Facebook, 20 March


Two national institutions
Hungary and the UK
In the UK and most of the rest of the world, people speak of 'Conductive Education' (or the equivalent in their local language). In Hungary particularly and to some degree elsewhere people often speak of 'Pető' (or 'Peto' or Petö). In Hungary, when they say this, they almost always mean specifically one particular institution, the PAF (that is the András Pető College in Budapest').
There is  little public analysis, anywhere, to what these terms might mean or imply.
Never mind here what they mean, there has been concern expressed for some years now that public mentions of Conductive Education (or Pető) are rare, to the degree that in the US and the UK conscious attempts have been made annually to bring its very existence in to greater into wider public view through Conductive Education Awareness Days or Weeks.
The general outcome of these do nor seem to have been upsurges of public interest. Questions of 'awareness' (and 'brand-awareness'). variously defined, and how to raise these, are matters of considerable interest in the big wide world, in politics, commerce. and other fields. Outside what might go on within individual institutions, however, this question has not been generally aired and shared in the little world of Conductive Education.
One might wonder why. Someone looking in might from outside might find this all rather puzzling. This, however, is not the topic here. This posting draws intention to two specific,  instances of major public awareness that have been occurring simultaneously in two different countries, the UK and Hungary. If there areany conclusion to be drawn towards a wider more analytic discussion, then that is up to its readers.
This week many Hungarians must have be very aware of the row that has broken out across their public media over the salaries of the conductors at PAF who work with adults.. Not for the first time 'Peto' has been the subject to some probably altogether unwished for national awareness.
But before I proceed:
(1) I am myself very aware from my own personal experience just how horrible such situations can be to everyone involved, on whatever side of such dispute, and how destructive such events can be to the life of an affected institution and those involved with it. I know just how painful it can all be to be caught up in such a thing. Even though this wages business is happening in a far-away country of which I know very little, to people whom I do not know, I do, however, know what it feels like to wake up in the mornings and remember what is there waiting. I also know that there are many others around the world who, whether within CE or without, have experienced the same terrible feelings about a wide range of events.
(2) Though I might 'feel the pain' I have no way of knowing the rights and wrongs involved in this specific issue, The topic here is the awareness that it has generated.
The Hungarian media narrative of 'Pető' over the years (still generally referred to as the Pető Intézet) appears to have run something like this: Pető is to do with children, these children usually look pretty cute, it is a national treasure (Hungarikum), world-famous and internationally acknowledged – unproblematical. This is perhaps not all that different from the safe image consciously projected by many Western CE bodies. I do not of course know what the Hungarian in the street thinks, or the political class there, or even the world of relevant Hungarian academe.
One often hears it said that 'there is no such thing as bad publicity'. There is good reason why many consider this this is simply not so. An alternative folk wisdom is 'Mud sticks'. Again, I have seen this happen, when some years ago the public image of Conductive Education in the UK and abroad was severely damaged by the nationwide, malign publicity generated by the 'Birmingham research'. Now in Hungary there has been an impromptu national awareness week, producing much heat and little light. Joe Public and others there may certainly feel the heat of all this but how might they be affected by what they have seen and heard?
Perhaps all this fuss will die down and its effects just blow away, and everything will just go on as before. Meanwhile, however, the Hungarian Socialist Party has also pitched into the political arena, along with the Dialogue Party. They think it's all over?
As usual, though the row has not been spotted by the media outside Hungary that once took such a keen interest in Conductive Education...
I do not know what to do about documenting the Hungarian media attention alluded to here, so I have simply appended a list, almost certainly incomplete. Note that this includes links that may or may not remain live.
United Kingdom
Dame Vera Lynn is a very different kind of national institution. When I was small she was a singer whose performances on the wireless (the radio) and in public contributed significantly to the national morale both on the Home Front and in the Armed Services. She was was the 'Forces' Sweetheart' and remained so for years after the war was over. For a dwindling many, she still is.
My own favourite song of hers when I was little was Lilli Marlene. Given the song's wartime history this seems a poignantly telling present-day video of her her singing it:
On Friday she released a new album, the oldest person ever to do so:
On Saturday she appeared at a tribute event at the London Palladium:
Monday is her hundredth birthday, and her image will be projected on to the White Cliffs of Dover...
It will be hard for people in this country, and for relevant populations around the world, not to some degree to be aware of this. This is not merely because she has been a widely revered and respected individual, but because there has been a quiet but powerful campaign to raise public awareness of what is going on, building for months now. It just happen. It was planned.
Documentation for the above? Try this for size:
As Crocodile Dundee might have said, 'That's public awareness'.
And what has any of this to do with Conductive Education? Proceeds are to go to Charity, specifically to Dame Vera's own charity, the DVLT (the Dame Vera Lynn Trust):
The DVLC has recently moved to new premises, and has been looking for further conductors
The plentiful media reports on the Dame Vera's centenary have made copious reference to the contribution that this will make to the DVLT. I do not think that the Dame Vera connection was mentioned over the coincidental national conductive awareness campaign. Food for thought there, too.
Previous postings on the wages question

Hungarian media coverage for “Pető Intézet”, March 2017
As found by on 19.03,17 
A keresés eredménye 23 találat




Friday, 17 March 2017


For deciding CE provision

I have had passed on to me yet another of those requests. Specifically this one asks about–

'..scientific report/documentation or other objective information to support reports on the importance of carrying on with CE to support a more independent, dignified and healthier life leading to the possibility of employment.'

That is very nicely put and deserves better that the only reply that I can offer:
  1. There is NO such scientific report/documentation.
  2. Neither will there EVER be in the sense that I suspect that the word 'scientific' is used here.
  3. Remember that under English law the relevant legislation is about 'needs'. When it comes to the crunch, needs cannot be dependent only upon facts, they are ultimately a statement of values.
  4. Even if there were such documentation, there would be no point in either side's submitting this as evidence in a Tribunal about SEN, since such a Tribunal is not competent under law to decide on the relative merits of scientific evidence.
  5. Consideration of such evidence by a Tribunal would be immediate grounds for Appeal to the High Court on a point of law. The appeal to dismiss such evidence would almost certainly be upheld, and the LA is very likely already well aware of this.
  6. Anyone entering such formal proceedings MUST be aware that this is a legal process with a lot of money at stake, in which the opposing side is determined to have its way and has its own legal department sharing the experience of similar legal department of every local authority in the land. In no other walk of life would citizens take up such an important and unequal contest without competent LEGAL advice of their own.
  7. Not just any old lawyer. The Education Law Society can advise:
  8. If not yet at the stage of Tribunal, families should make it very clear to their LA that they are taking proper legal advice on their rights (and on the (LA's obligations), and will be prepared to contest any lapses on the apart of the LA' and any other bodies involved, whatever it takes
  9. Wasps and hornets are rarely attacked by bigger, more powerful animals. They wear yellow and black stripes as a warning. Only on 8 March I put a reminder on Facebook,  reference to an account of one parent's (successful) struggle, and her recommendation:
  10. When dealing with public servants, remember what the term means and act accordingly. Be courteous, be helpful, answer any reasonable question, but display those warning stripes boldly and with pride.
None of this is nice. it is not what people expected and hoped for when they began bringing up their disabled child. It is not what they deserve and not what gthey wish. That, however, is how it is and no services, conductive or otherwise, should allow its families to go into such a situation without knowing this and without having the know-how to guide them through it.
On Facebook

Dealing with Local Authorities
Read one mother's experience:

Health warning

I no longer work day to day in this sordid jungle. I have deliberately averted my gaze from how it has developed since I walked away. It might be that the legal situation has changed, perhaps even the intention of Parliament. So check on what I say, by consulting the competent literature and by going to someone capable of an informed professional opinion.

Vital issues for the future of a child and a family may be decided in such situations. The Golden Rule? Always check. Then if possible check again.

Thursday, 16 March 2017


Opposition MP writes...

Opposition MP Timea Szabó (Párbeszéd, 'Dialogue', party) writes in this morning's issue of the newspaper Népszava, she squares up to PAF Chancellor Máté Mihál, proposes a national unified salary scale for all conductors at PAF, says that she is raising this matter in Parliament, and demands that Zoltán Balog, State Secretary for Human Resources (minister responsible for the PAF), attends to this personally.

Her statement in Népsava is repeated on her blog posting this morning, along with media links, and extensive readers' comments:

 (2017) Párbeszéd: durvul a helyzet a Petőben, a sérült gyerekek nem számítanak, Népszava, 16 March 




So far, however, the Hungarian media as a whole seems to have stayed well out of this


(2017) Párbeszéd: durvul a helyzet a Petőben, a sérült gyerekek nem számítanak, Népszava, 16 March


Wednesday, 15 March 2017


The utazó konduktor

A second meeting around the 'travelling conductor' (if this is the best English rendition) will be held in Budapest on 31 March:

Topic: Legal aspects of provision and documentation for the travelling conductor

Further information (Hungarian)

Introducing his way of working  (English)