Friday, 24 April 2015


Revised hierarchy published today

This morning the András Pető College (formally the Pető Institute has published the names of post-holders in its new management.

Some old names are there, and some others not, along with some new names that have yet to be known.

The Rector's area

Most notable is that Franz Schaffhauser remains as Rector.

There is a new Vice Rector, plus some other changes.

The Chancellery

Chancelleries are new structures recently imposed by central government upon all higher-education institutions in Hungary, to keep an eye on the money and ensure government control:

How does it all work?

Who knows? The is no organigram (organogram, if you prefer) to show how the two management sectors or the individual posts within them relate to one another and to the world outside.

There no information about this yet in any language but Hungarian, and no email addresses are provided.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015


You can't fight one without the other

On his blog yesterday Ralph Strzałkowski wrote –
'There are two wars that we fight every day' – a friend in a wheelchair told me once – 'One is the battle with our own body that doesn't always cooperate with you. The other is facing all the other people in the outside world'.
I think he was right. As difficult as it may be to have a physical limitation, dealing with what everyone else thinks, projects and assumes often and in many ways is much worse. I've been dealing with cerebral palsy for 35 years. I got in covered. Nobody knows more about what it's like to be me than me, I think With my three law degrees and projects constantly developing in the background I've been doing a pretty good job. That doesn't mean of course that being in this body isn't trying sometimes.

We all have those days when it's hard to get out of the bed in the morning. And when it takes some effort actually and literally to lift yourself up in the morning. But I like to think I'm making it day by day. And there are times when I think I'm pretty fly for doing what I'm doing and getting out the door.

And then there are other people. And they do often get me down I know I shouldn't let them …
Ralph calls this other war 
'The war on ignorance, prejudice and prejudice. Because life is complicated enough without having to deal with all that added stuff...
Ralph has documented something of his inner war, including the three years of his life spent as a residential pupil at the then Pető Institute in Budapest, in his book Never, never quit! You can see something of his social battle, including the development of  FDAAF (the Florida Disability Access and Awareness Foundation) through the regular twice-a-week postings on his blog Lawyer on Wheels:
It is hard to think that anyone involved with Conductive Education, with conductive pedagogy and conductive upbringing, whether they be personal users or professional providers, can wage the inner war without recognising the other one, the outer social war. And contrariwise... 

There are two fronts, and to fight either without regard for both, and their potential interaction, is sheer reductionism.

Local app

Lauched today is FDAAF's latest project, an 'access app', for disabled and non-disabled people alike, to show local bad-access hotspots :

This is intended to create benefits on both fronts – a terrific idea for others to take up in their own localities.


FDAAF (2015) Look around (phone app), Gainsville, FDAAF 

Strzałkowski, R. (2013) Never, never quit, Birmingham, CEP

Strzałkowski, R. (2013) Two wars, Lawyer on Wheels, 21 April

Tuesday, 21 April 2015


Conductor Éva Friesz, and others

I was messaged a few days ago by conductor Erika Kolumbán who is currently working on FortSchritt Starnberg's pilot project on conductive-assisted living for young people. She wrote to ask me whether I had heard of the EU Galileo Project 'In Memo' to which she has contributed  

Commemorating the physically and mentally disabled
mistreated by the totalitarian regimes 
Grant awarded: 97.000 

While Jewish people were the primary victims of Nazism, other groups were victimized as well, some for what they did, some for what they refused to do, and some for what they were …

...The project aims at collecting and preserving the memory of the violating of human rights of these 'invisible individuals' initiated by Nazism and Stalinism in Europe. During the project young adults (16-25 years) from Italy, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, including disabled and healthy participants, will meet elderly witnesses of these totalitarian regimes. They will make a research and conduct interviews in their own countries with witnesses, and then will all gather at several occasions to share and discuss their experiences...

Videos produced for this project by Vera Wera (Werovszky) are now on line, on YouTube. Erika and colleagues are working on the site website to upload documents.

Fascinating videos

Click to view  

The videos are in Hungarian but are fully subtitled in English (usual gripe: always leave the last word on English subtitles to a native English-speaker). 

The archive films provided by the András Pető College's are simply brilliant.

Thank you Erica Kolumbán (who is to be seen introducing Éva Friesz).

Further comment must await publication of the associated documents.

All five videos


Radio interview from France
Rencontre, avec Fanny Grau, présidente de l’association Centre d’éducation conductive du Gard du côté de Clarensac. Une association, qui est aussi et surtout une école qui pratique la pédagogie conductive, c’est-à-dire une méthode d'éducation spécialisée et dédiée aux jeunes enfants handicapés moteurs ou polyhandicapés

This introduces the interview something as follows: A meeting with Fanny Grau, President of the Association Conductive Education Centre of Gard, near Clarensac, an association that is above all a school practising Conductive Education, that is to say a special educational method dedicated to young children with motor disorders or multiple disabilities.

Podcast of yesterday afternoon's 12-minute interview by Yann Benoit, from Nîmes local radio – too many w.p.s. for me (words per second).


Benoit, Y, (2014) Nos assos ont du talent, Raje Radio (podcast), 20 April

Friday, 17 April 2015


Could Jobbik govern Hungary?

DW (Deutsche Welle) is Germany's international broadcaster. Nick Thorpe's report from Budapest was broadcast on its English-language service this morning –
In Hungary the nationalist Jobbik party has won its first ever seat in an individual constituency. That adds to the 22 seats it already has thanks to proportional representation. The Jobbik leader Gabor Vona has rebranded Jobbik as a people's party and as a result, it's won votes from both left and right. But how credible is the new moderate tone and could Jobbik one day govern Hungary?'

This recent by-election result has sent a bit of shiver through the world's media. Three years to the next general election is a long time and lots could happen. But elections in Europe in the 21st century are funny things, something that we in the UK are waking up to this April.


Thorpe, N. (2015) Could Jobbik govern Hungary? Deutsche Welle, 17 April

Thursday, 16 April 2015


For the record

I have started a long-overdue spring-clean, and am finding all sorts of things, personal and professional.I had quite forgotten that I have some of these and/or where I had stored them. Like Count Dracula, I need a secretary to help sort my things!

A few minutes ago I came across one such item, a photocopy of a long, typescript document in Hungarian.

This particular photocopy was given me by Júlia Kalman (later Dévai) who was to no small measure instrumental in their production.

My photocopy is rather grey, the original having been made of the slightly tinted and flimsy paper that seemed common in those distant days in Hungary. My photocopy is, however, altogether legible. Total number of pages is 80 + 2. I can see no trace of the original's having been bound and its front page had been fairly battered around the edges.





A Mozgasterápiai Tanszék, as Országos Mozgásterápiai Intézet osszeállitása

F.k. Dr. Pethő András


This front page is inscribed with an affectionate dedication to Júlia Kalman (later Dévai) in AP's own hand. These notes for students were the second of three such internal publications in those early years, see p. 65 of Júlia Dévai's (2012) published account of the beginnings of conductive pedagogy and of the State Institute.

In English the title means 'Methods of Soviet motor therapy'. The topic was in keeping with the place and the time. Whether or not AP was influenced by this material it was certainly politically advantageous to cite it.

The collection was published by the Movement Therapy Department of National Institute of Movement Therapy. At the time AP was favouring a version of his surname spelled with an 'h'.

Contents page

See Dévai (op. cit.) for the authors, of whom only Luriya has been widely known outside the Soviet Union.

The text

pp. 1-120


There is also another document from the same source in my trove, this one comprising 60 pages from 1958. For the public record I shall report on this another time. For now I have to get back to my clearing.


Dévai, J. (2012) Personal memories from the beginning of Conductive Education, in J. Maguire and A Sutton (eds), András Pető, Birmingham, Conductive Education Press, pp. 45-70

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


Some positive suggestions

The Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation started as a substantial offshoot of United Cerebral Palsy, and is based in New York. Some years ago CPI made some most intelligent comments upon researching Conductive Education, but it has gone quiet on the topic in recent years (even though over this time a growing variety of CE services and practices have been established in the United States and internationally).

September 1995

The Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation published its first factsheet on Conductive Education. Unfortunately there has been a mix-up on CPI's website and this factsheet is not available.

September 1997

CPI's next Fact Sheet on this topic, however, summarised the previous one 
In a previous Research Fact Sheet (September 1995), comments were made on a series of articles on Conductive Education published in the journal Infants and Young Children. In essence, the comments were aimed at the need for more valid information; information that was specific, reliable and reproducible. This need is still unmet.

Rather than rely upon published academic research CPI went out and looked for itself (it did not disclose where, an important omission) –
During the past several weeks, the Foundation has had an opportunity to observe Conductive Education classes, speak to Conductors (education-therapists), and to parents of children enrolled. A number of thoughtful questions on the program were asked by well motivated, friendly participants. The following is a summary of those discussions.
Does Conductive Education work? Quite obviously it does work, as do a number of other interventions. However, that isn’t the meaningful question. The meaningful questions are: For whom? As compared to what? What are the long term effects?
When one incorporates total immersion for extended periods of time, heightened motivation, positive encouragement and reward, peer support and active participation, it should be expected to work. Conductors are professionals, skilled in utilizing their approach to the child both as an individual and as part of a group...

CPI then asked some important, trenchant questions, and followed these with a concrete suggestion –
We suspect that there is now enough of a body of experience internationally for the leadership of Conductive Education to arrive at consensus in reply to these questions. If so, the answers to these and other questions need to be written down so they can be examined and evaluated by others! Without this, the efficacy of Conductive Education will remain in the realm of “fringe therapy”, receiving enthusiastic support by a limited number of involved parents and professionals and looked upon with suspicion by a large number of others who have seen “remarkable therapies” come and go...
...Is the leadership of Conductive Education prepared to undertake this task? I hope so.

That was eighteen years ago.


On the basis of the research review by Darrah et al., CPI published a Research Status Report. This briefly summarised that review's findings of the numerous Western research endeavours (or, if you prefer, its non-findings) –

The present literature does not provide conclusive evidence either in support of or against CE. Because of this, parents must consider items such as cost, time, accessibility and the impact on the family when considering CE.
And as before, raised some trenchant questions –
As indicated in the Research Fact Sheet of 1997, Conductive Education (CE) is characterized by the therapeutic use of very positive support from peers, the encouragement of the parent and the therapist-educator (the conductor) and immersion for an extended period of time in the program. It raises the question of the comparative efficacy of other programs (techniques) where similar motivation and prolonged intense periods of therapeutic immersion are used. Is it the technology or the immersion that are the background for the reports of improved function? Unfortunately, CE is a 1940 intervention that has been and continues to be reported using 1940 s criteria of evaluation. Thus, individual reports of usefulness are undermined by poor methods of evaluation. A controlled clinical trial using specific entry and exclusion criteria, established endpoints, a reasonable period of follow-up and a comparative population (“controls”) are required to understand the role of CE in the treatment of specific types of cerebral palsy. Until then, CE will continue to be considered an interesting but “alternative therapy” and not meet the standards necessary for incorporation into modern clinical care.
That was eleven years ago.


I cannot resist remarking the following (from 1997)
When one incorporates total immersion for extended periods of time, heightened motivation, positive encouragement and reward, peer support and active participation, it should be expected to work.
Yes indeedy. CPI did not indicate who wrote these published comments. Someone who seems to understand in the same way in which anyone with sense and sensibility understands. What is Conductive Education? Such a question... 

Saturday, 11 April 2015


Deaf-blind in the Soviet Union
I had no interest in defectology, and had never thought about the education of the blind and deaf as a problem for philosophy.

This comes from a very nicely expressed little article on the philosophy of deaf-blindness in the former Soviet Union, by Justin E. H. Smith, evoking a world that I now barely recall.

I do hope that this branch of defectology survives in some form and that it has passed on a healthy inheritance.

I do not necessarily agree with the author's conclusion. Still, whatever turns you on.

All the same, any informed, serious consideration of Soviet defectology and its implications always raises the bar. And as I once found myself, personal contact with one of the Zagorsk four  is truly mind-expanding.

I wish that people would write about motor disorder at the same level (from whatever standpoint).


Smith, J. E. J (2014) Cactus Life, Cabinet, no 53, pp. 41-44

Thursday, 9 April 2015


Do some yourself

More research is needed, so they say. Well maybe, or maybe not. If more indeed be needed then one sense in which to understood this need is for more kinds of research – including a contribution open to anyone who might be involved in Conductive Education, at any level and in any role.

How might that be? Let me suggest the method of testimonio, a post-modern research concept with strong roots in the liberation movements of Latin America.

Let me also offer Ralph Strzałkowski's and George McDowell's books as prime extended examples of testimonio in Conductive Education. There are other, shorter examples that might also count as such, in collections in the series 'Library of Conductive Education' published by Conductive Education Press  – though I doubt that many of those involved in producing these would proclaim themselves as post-modernist qualitative researchers. Maybe they should.

John Beverley has described testimonio as follows –
Testimonio is by nature a demotic and heterogeneous form, so any formal definition of it is bound to be too limiting. But the following might serve provisionaly: A testimonio is a novel- or novella-length narrative, produced in the form of a printed text, told in the first person by a narrator who is also the real protagonist or witness of the events she or he accounts. Its unit of narration is usually a 'life' or a significant life experience. Because in many cases the narrator is usually someone who is functionally illiterate or, if literate, not a professional writer, the production of a testimonio generally involves the tape-recording and then the transcription and editing of an oral account by an interlocutor who is a journalist, ethnographer, or literary author.... (pp. 536-7)
This is not to suggest of course that Ralph Strzałkowski and George McDowell are 'functionally illiterate'. Far from it, they express themselves in writing in highly articulate ways. Rather, as John Beverly carefully qualifies his words, neither is a 'professional writer'. Their writings (respectively a blog and a diary) were already written, and merely awaited their interlocutors.

John Beverley's definition continues –
...the contemporary appeal of testimonio for educated middle-class, transnational publics is perhaps related to the importance given in various forms of 1960s counterculture to oral testimony as a form of personal and/or collective catharsis and liberation in (for example) the conscious-raising sessions of the early woman's movement, the practice of 'speaking bitterly' in the Chinese Cultural Revolution, or psychotherapeutic encounter groups. (p. 556)

Testimonio is just one form of narrative enquiry:
Narrative inquiry uses field texts, such as stories, autobiography, journals, field notes, letters, conversations, interviews, family stories, photos (and other artifacts), and life experience, as the units of analysis to research and understand the way people create meaning in their lives as narratives.

Here is something that those directly involved in Conductive Education, in whatever role, can take for their own, and get on with for themselves with for themselven. Indeed many are doubtless already laying the groundwork, without realising it.

Doing it already

The march of technology broadens the range of means for collecting and recording narratives ever wider. Data in new media (video and messaging spring to mind) lie around on the public record without collation or analysis, with much more doubtless outside the public domain. Being personally a product of the quantitative tradition, and very much not a postmodernist person, I became aware of the idea of testimonio only in 2001, through supervising the undergraduate dissertation of student-conductor Susanna Wong. Susanna was a lifetime diarist, and she wanted to use what she had written that was relevant to her transition to becoming a conductor. We hit upon the testimonio.

Maybe there are other diarists in Conductive Educations. For the most part, only they know. There must be potential interlocutors out there too.

On diarist who met an interlocutor was George McDowell. His interlocutor (and publisher) was Susie Mallett:

Blogs can do many things. They often serve as diaries too, and as tools for reflection of life, past and present. Such a blogger is Ralph Strzałkowski, who has blogged in some detail about his childhood with cerebral palsy, his education at the then Pető Institute in Budapest, and what this has meant to him as an adult. I served as his interlocutor and helped publish the resulting book:

Services too

Not just individuals keep a diary. Institutions do may as well.

Certain CE centres, particularly in France, maintain online diaries, records over time of what happens there, who does what, how their conductive programmes fit into the wider year. I do not know the status if qualitative research in France – they usually think of things very differently there anyway – but if they find the right interlocutors they could find themselves sitting on useful data.

I know of blogged centre diaries because they are published. I have no doubt that there are others that I have missed, in other languages, an incomparable records of what CE centres actually do...

'Research', a wider vision

'Research' is far more than just empirical outcome-evluations. At the very least, 'researchers' have to have some idea what empirical outcomes might be! Otherweise they risk falling victim to that old snare of measuring only what they have tools to measure with, rather than attending to what people (maybe including themselves) consider important and relevant. Then there is the old question of the 'ownership' of research, much discussed in all sorts of contexts over the years but little aired in Conductive Education.

In the late 1990s Rony Nanton and I would have liked to establish a research programme that constituted a self-renewing qualitative-quantitative cycle. This was not to be. Maybe someone, somewhere, some time...


Beverley, J. (2000) Testimonio, subalternity, and narrative authority, in D. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln (eds), Handbook of Qualitative Research, Thousand Oaks, California, Sage Publications, pp. 555-565

McDowell, G. (2013) George's travelogue/Urlauberebnisse von George McDowell, by George McDowell (parallel texts in German in English, Nuremberg, Conductor Nürnberg

Strzałkowski, R. (2013) Never, never quit, Birmingham, CEP

Three collections from the Library of Conductive Education that include a variety of personal narratives:

Look out for French online CE-service diaries:

Previous mentions of testimonio on Conductive World:

Wednesday, 8 April 2015


What is happening in Hungary?

What a lovely morning here today in Middle England. The sun is bright, the air is warm, Spring has come, for a while anyway.

I am afraid that I slept late. The reason for this was that I had lain awake into the early hours, finishing Julie Orringer's book The Invisible Bridge, an extraordinary saga of Jewish lives in prewar Paris and wartime Hungary. Its nearly six hundred pages have rightly attracted mixed reviews but her book is certainly an extraordinary achievement for its almost first-time author, and it is certainly a very real and very moving account:

All quiet on the CE front

Over breakfast I checked as usual what is happening on the world of Internet news. As has been the case right over the the Easter period there is continuing silence on the Conductive Education front, with very little either that might bear upon this – except distant rumblings from Hungary, low-key but persisting Western press mentions of Hungary's economics, its foreign policy, and its politics. 

These matters may be of little interest to most in the West, just echoes of another people in another country far away, of whom we know nothing.

Conductive World used to mention such goings on fairly regularly, not least because, although Conductive Education has now been well and truly uprooted from the country in which András Pető created it in the years following the War, the bulk of its conductor workforce still originates in Hungary. What happens in that country may therefore prove continuingly critical for the future development of Conductive Education around the world. 

Anyway those who provide employment for conductors worldwide might find it helpful, and interesting to know something of what what may be going through their Hungarian colleagues' minds when they consider the old country.

The main reason why Hungary has of late dropped off Conductive World's radar is that the Hungarian news has become a little routine, a little boring for non-Hungarians. Between elections, that is how 'normal politics' often are. As elections come back into view, however, things will warm up...

Oh Hungary...

I cannot judge what to make of the following recent news report by Brian Whelan of the UK's Channel 4 News. I found it on my computer only this morning, just a few hours and a short sleep after finishing The Invisible Bridge, and that will have certainly have affected my judgement on the reported decline in public support for Hungary's governing party, the very right-wing Fidesz, and the rise in support for Jobbik, its very, very right-wing rival:

This written report includes a link to Channel 4's disturbing ten-minute news report from 2013.

As said, I cannot judge what to make of all this. But those who are Hungarians, in or out of Hungary, and those who deal with Hungarians wherever they be, just might wish to struggle with this conundrum themselves.

The next World Conductive Education Congress will be held in Budapest.


Orringer, J. (2011) The Invisible Bridge, London, Peguin

Whelan, B. (2015) Hungary's far-right Jobbik party prepare for power, Channel 4 News, 4 April