Wednesday, 25 November 2015


In Russia

Extract from interview with Oleg Khitryuk

Made for Minin University student news service, Studencheskaya Pravda:

Filmed at the Modernisation conference held at Minin University, 10 November 2015:

From the distant archive

Only previous record in Russian media:


Хитрюк, O. (2015) Интервью с Эндрю Саттоном, СП ТВ, 25 ноября

Tuesday, 24 November 2015


What next?


Leticia Búrigo Tomelin Kuerten was a pioneer in bringing Conductive Education to Brazil, opening a small centre in Florianopolis to serve her own child and other children back in 2006, and writing the world's first conductive blog, Educação Condutiva  com amor

Having a technological and managerial background, as well as being a conductive mother, she has always been most concerned with understanding the 'why' as well as the 'how' of conductive upbringing.

Since 2013 she has been involved with projects for inclusive education.


Now she has published her first book, Vou Brincar Agora ('I'm going to play now'):
Vou Brincar é um manual de ideias simples e criativas, que buscam o estímulo sensorial, intelectual e imaginativo! É entretenimento inteligente!
I'll Play is a manual of simple and creative ideas, seeking sensory, intellectual and imaginative stimulus! It's smart entertainment!
Further information

Saturday, 21 November 2015


The question of upbringing

Much has been written on the remarkable life of Arthur Kavanagh (1831 - 1889), an Irish aristocrat born with no arms below the lower third of his upper arm, and no legs below mid-thigh –therefore neither hands nor feet. As an adult, in place of legs –
..he had about six inches [c.150 cm] of muscular thigh stumps, one being about an inch [c.2.5 cm] shorter than its fellow, while his arms are dwarfed to about four inches [c.100 cm] of the upper portion of those members, unfurnished by any approximations approaching, in the remotest manner, to hands.

Notwithstanding, he wrote well and drew, he fished and was a keen yachtsman, he rode well, including to hounds, was a good shot and hunted tigers in India – and was a womaniser before marrying, when he settled down and fathered seven children. He travelled extensively and sometimes adventurously, first with his mother to France and Italy, and in Egypt and the Holy Land, Setting out from from Norway, he rode across Russian from Saint Petersburg to Nizhnii Novgorod east of Moscow, then down the Volga, through Persia and Mesopotamia, to India. Back in Ireland, still only 24, he succeeded to the family estates and became a reforming and philanthropic landlord, a politician and Member of Parliament, before dying of pneumonia aged 58 in his London house, slipping away with his family around the bed, singing Christmas carols.

He had lived an extraordinarily full life, by any measure.

The nature of his limb deformities is not known. In the spirit of the times they were attributed to a peasants' curse upon his mother for removing two Catholic statues from a local Catholic chapel, or to her taking too much laudanum (alchohol + opium) during pregnancy:

Of greater interest, to educators, however, is the question of how he grew to be so dextrous, determined, independent and adventurous. What possibly relevant factors are discernable in his personal history?
Following his death, his cousin Sarah Steele published his biography. She wrote
It was manifest that his upbringing must be different from that of other men, born, as he was, without limbs.
The New York Times's detailed review of Sarah Steele's book was most critical of how it was that he turned out as he did, and puzzled why this question was not addressed –
It is the singular fault of this record of his life that we do not how a human being thus afflicted was able to do these extraordinary things... The sole direct reference to this matter is contained in this sentence following a statement of the year and place of his birth: 'From the outset it was obvious that his upbringing must be different from that of other men, born as he was without limbs'. Having learnt of this fact, the reader is constantly reminded how he could ride, hunt fish, shoot down wild beasts in India, and bring grasping Orientals to terms at the muzzle of his rifle. One is simply left to the exercise of [one's] own imagination, and this helps out very little.

More than a century has passed. His strength of character, even as a boy, has been mentioned frequently, but how did this come about? What factors were active in his upbringing, what pedagogic principles might there have contributed to bringing this indominable person into being? This is still not a contemporary question in our society. Usually it suffices to say, as does the Dictionary of National Biography, something like –
Kavanagh nevertheless, by indomitable resolution and perseverance, triumphed over his physical defects, and learned to do almost all that the normal man can do, better than most men.,_Arthur_Macmorrough_(DNB00)

The following sketchy account derives from several sources.

The mother
Arthur Kavanagh was a descendent of the ancient kings of Leinster, and born into one of the wealthiest families in Ireland.
The story has it that his mother thanked God that he was born to her because she was wealthy and could give him a normal life.
...Lady Harriet Margaret Le Poer Trench, seems to have been a lady of redoubtable character, and she not going to see her son miss the opportunities that others had.
She devoted herself to Arthur’s welfare and upbringing and, along with his nurse, Anne Fleming, raised a young man who was marked by a gritty determination to achieve whatever he set his mind to.
...Lady Harriet, seems to have been a lady of formidable character, although not really tested until Arthur was born. She was no simpering maiden and devoted herself totally to this limbless child. Her elderly husband was uninterested in the little cripple, disinterested even...

The upbringer
[Lady Harriet] had employed a special nurse to look after Arthur, and to her must go much of the credit for his dogged spirit. Her name was Anne Fleming, and she had a remarkable talent, an insight into the little boy’s mind in all sorts of ways. She would place toys just beyond his reach so that he had to wriggle towards them, ignoring his screams of frustration. She showed him the potential of his short arm stumps, and encouraged him to try to get them to meet across his front.
Nurse Fleming would place toys just out of his reach and encourage him to wriggle towards them. She persuaded him to try to get his stumpy arms to meet across his chest. Through long hours of practice he was able to train his tiny arms to perform as well as any able-bodied person.
He could often be seen, even as a baby, lying on his back and trying to get them to meet. He would be given a toy to hold, a big one at first, and as the toys became progressively smaller, so his reach became longer. It made him rather round shouldered, but that was a small price to pay. The tips of his arm stumps became so supple that they could be used almost as fingers, and perform all sorts of tasks. Over the years he was to keep up his painful practice until he could get a tight grip on a cane, a pistol, even the hilt of a fencing foil.
As he grew older and reached the age when a normal child would have walked, Anne arranged for pads for his leg stumps and taught him to balance on them, then hop. Later he would hop from the floor up the stairs, to a sofa or to a chair. When he was two years old, instead of taking him for walks as she would a normal child (and did with the older children), she arranged for a small pony with a built up saddle, rather like a small bucket, into which he was strapped. Anne was to stay for years, and Arthur became very attached to her.
The following aperçu, no more than an aside in a holiday blog by 'Becky', is the only hint that I have read so far of the possible role of upbring in his developing personality, and its link to a wider world of special pedagogy
[She] sounds similar to Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller’s governess.
Who was Anne Fleming, where did she appear from and where did she go to? Did she take part in any other such special upbringings? A pioneer figure for whom history has made no place.

The doctor
When he was about four years old, a new influence came into his life, and a most important one it was too – Doctor Francis Boxwell. A recently qualified young gentleman, he came from a landed family at Butlerstown in County Wexford, and was very much at home with the Kavanaghs at Borris. He was an old family friend, and in 1835 when he arrived, his qualification papers from Glasgow University were only weeks old.
He developed an instant rapport with young Arthur, and indeed with his mother. He visited almost daily, and with keen intelligence realised how important it was to be  consistently friendly, but firm. He lectured Lady Harriet on the vital necessity that Arthur should be instinctively self-sufficient if he was to have any hope in life, and how he must be proud of his family heritage – how he must be, limbs or no, a man.
Dr Boxwell wins good mention here, gaining credit for Lady Harriett's goals for her son and (below, from the same source) for getting Arthur Kavanagh on horseback.

Riding a horse came as naturally to Doctor Boxwell as breathing, and one of his first actions was to replace the leading reins on Arthur’s pony with real ones. This he managed by having a harness made for Arthur’s torso with straps and buckles, and the reins were attached to these. He also redesigned the bucket in which he sat, turning it more into a sort of saddle chair, and indeed one of them can still be seen in Borris House today. So equipped, by turning his shoulders or pressing down on one or both reins with a stump or stumps as required, he could turn a horse or stop him as well as anyone.
It was a brainwave, and combined with the new saddle into which Arthur was firmly strapped, it gave him immense and hitherto undreamed of mobility.
Arthur had a natural affinity for horses, perhaps increased by his dependence on them. He would talk to them, and they with a soft whinny would sometimes talk to him, too. And this applied not just to his own stable. Often abroad, forced to ride half-trained animals over often precipitous passes he would encourage them just by talking to them in his deep, mellow tones, sympathising with their difficulties and sometimes even with their terrors.
Ripping yarns and derring do

The account of Arthur Kavanagh's upbringing presented above is a composite of selections from biographic materials available on line. The particular intentions and the veracity of the various sources quoted is unknown.

What Arthur did with his life, both as a traveller abroad and later as a politician in Ireland and at Westminster, is a tale of Victorian can-do and grit:

Rupert Taylor has recounted a brief anecdote (possibly apocryphal) –
...he visited a friend after a long absence and said 'You know, it's at least ten years since I was here and the railway station master recognized me.'

Granting Arthur Kavanagh's most favourable social background, he was brought up to be a characteristic hero of his time.


(1867)An extraordinary Member of Parliament, Warwick Argus and Tenterfield Chronicle (Queensland, Australia), 8 February, p. 2

(1891) Born without arms and legs. New York Times (Book review)

(2012) Disability history month: Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh, BBC News Magazine, 6 December
He does not fit comfortably into the contemporary British disability narrative: 'In the story of disability politics, he is an outlier rather than a trailblazer'.

(n.d) The limbless lord, Wizzley (writers' blog)

'Becky' (2013) National Country Fair, Borris, 2013 Ireland, 5 August (holiday blog)

Bunbury, T. (n.d.) The incredible Arthur Mcmurrough Kavanagh, (1831 – 1889)

Igoe, B. (2012) Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh – the limbless landlord, The Irish Story, 21 December

Steele, S. L. (1891) The Right Honourable Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh: a biography, London, MaMillan
Online facsimile

Whyte, N. (20o8) The lives of Arthur MacMorrough Kavanagh, From the heart of Europe, 5 August
Critical review of four biographies

Further bibiography

Kavanah. A. (1865) The cruise of the R. T. S. Eva, Dublin, Hodges, Smith & Co.
Reproduced on line in full. I have seen it written that the illustrations are by Arthur Kavanagh, as well as the lively text. I cannot confirm this. I gather that he wrote and drew with the pencil in his mouth, directing it with his arms.

Rigg J.M. (1891) Mrs. Steele's Arthur MacMorrough Kavanagh, The Lancet, 14 March, Online, behind pay barrier (book review)

Rigg, J. R. (2012) Kavanagh, Arthur MacMorrough, Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 30 (1885-1900)

Whyte, N. (2008), The lives of Arthur Kavanagh, Live Journal, 5 August

Critical review of four biographies of Arthur Kavanagh

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


Meeting a great
Making a connection

Forty-odd years ago I was taking my first astounded look at Soviet pedagogy, with Anton Makarenko featuring very large in my consciousness, and I became aware of the name A. A. Frolov amongst the huge Russian-language literature on upbringing (vospitanie, воспитание).

It was therefore  a pleasant surprise to find that I should meet Anatolii Arkadevich in person on my visit to the Minin State Pedagogic University in Nizhnii Novgorod, where he is still actively at work at the A. S. Makarenko Social Pedagogy Research Centre, in an emeritus capacity.

I met a lively, energetic man of 88, dressed in a formal suit bearing the ribbon of a veteran of the Great Patriotic War on his breast. Greeting me warmly, before anything else he wanted to indicate the medal and his service, and to tell me that he had marched in the Victory Parade in Red Square in 1945. And then to tell me that his daughter is a medical scientist in Leeds.

Then came the acid test. As opener he asked me what I thought of Makarenko. As best as I could remember I quoted a few words that I had written (actually, with respect to Conductive Education) back in the mid-eighties –
Perhaps the art of education is conveyed only by a work of imagination. *
He stood up, leant across the table and shook me heartily by the hand. I seemed to have passed muster.

I wish that I could recall more of our conversation, including something else that I said that prompted a standing handshake, but I was too excited to remember. He sent me off with the task of finding something more of minde to send him. I hope that I can.


Meanwhile this meeting, with a major figure from the glory days of Soviet education, presented me with a paradox that epitomises a vital contradiction within the present development of present-day Russian pedagogy – and is important for the potential relationship of Russian education and education in the West.

I was given a lot of written material while I was in Nizhnii Novgorod, one item being the fourth edition of a little book called 'The pedagogy of A. S. Makarenko: fundamentals of the methodology (in comparison with other concepts of pedagogy)', written by A. A. Frolov and E. Yu. Italtdinova (of whom likely more anon).

This brief text concludes as follows –
Not long ago, in September 2012, at the International Investors' Forum in the city of Sochi, Ichak Adizes, an American management specialist of global standing, speaking of Russia's cultural contribution to the world's heritage, said –

...a book that I read at the age of ten was Gaidar's Timur and his Squad. And a book that I still know almost by heart today is Makarenko's Pedagogic Poem. It is these two books that made me who I am.
Surely time will soon come when our leadership, people in education and pedagogy, political scientists and sociologists, will be able to come closer to the necessary level of understanding and appreciation of the heritage of A. S. Makarenko.
(Frolov and Italtdinova, 2013)

A. A. Frolov epiomises a powerful tradition in Russian education. Management theory is a powerful international twentieth-century meme. The two are not irreconcileable. Indeed, connections can be made at the highest level. The Russians are on to this. Education in the West, for a large part I suspect, is not.


Frolov, A. A., Ilantdinova, E. Yu. (2013) Pegagokika A. S. Makarenko: osnovy metodologii (v sravnenii s drugimi kontsepsiyami pedagogiki), fourth edition, Nizhnii Novgorod

Sutton, A. (1986) The practice, in Ph. Cottam and A. Sutton (eds) Conductive Education: a system for overcoming motor disorder, London, Crom Helm, pp 27-86

*   In full, what I had written was –
Educational practice is hard to describe. An observer inevitably selects, directing attention to this feature or that according to what seems personally significant or interesting or expected. Moreover, the process has a temporal dimension. What is observed at one moment of a process moves towards the attainment of long-term goals. Statistics can confirm the spoken or written word, still photographs can capture an image and documentary film or video provide a powerful impression. Combine all the available media, however, and one may still fail to capture the essence of an educational process. Perhaps the art of education is conveyed only by a work of imagination.
Unfortunately, Conductive Education still awaits its Makarenko….
(Sutton, 1986, p. 27)


Survey of conductors' employment duties

Advertised on Conductive World Market:

Through the Educational Sciences masters' programme at ELTE (Eötvös Loránd University) conductors Adrienn Gacsó and Kata Horváth are carrying out an online survey into the employment, career pattern of conductors and related matters, designed primarily towards conductors working in Hungary.

They are looking at the kinds of institutions where the conductor workforce is employed, how conductors change jobs, the jobs that they do and how, the knowledge and skills acquired, and the training needed for further professional development.

More, please

This is the first such investigation that I have come across, though there may of course have been others in the past the results of which have not entered general public awareness (indeed not have been published at all).

The value of the present enquiry will depend very much upon achieving sufficient number of respondents. More valuable still, on a number of counts, would be for someone to extend this project to other countries where conductors work – and to included conductors who had trained elsewhere than in Hungary.

Adrienn and Kata offer to share the results of their investigation on request. Write to them at:

Additionally, however, it is be hoped that having publicly enlisted participation in this project the investigators will also find means to follow it up by communicating the outcome more publicly.

Complete the questionnaire

The comprehensive questionnaire should take only five to ten minutes to complete:


Gacsó., G Horváth, K. (2015) Konduktorok munkaköri feladatainak felmérése, online questionnaire, Google Docs

Tuesday, 17 November 2015


France French National Flag

Public feeling for France is unprecedented in my adult recollection.

Three days ago, I made the tiny gesture of putting red, white and blue stripes on Conductive World's Facebook page:

The French tricolor is now everywhere on Facebook.

British politicians are even risking all and speaking a little French in public.

Even further, today there is a friendly football match between England and France at Wembley Stadium. The words will be displayed on big screens and copies of La Marseillaise will be distributed to the the crowd, so that English football fans can sing along in solidarity when the French National Anthem is played:

I have always found La Marseillaise a uniquely moving national hymn. Like so many such it has some pretty dubious words but in combination with that tune: Wow!

Historian Simon Schama has just been talking on BBC Radio 4, analysing why it has that same effect for him. He concludes that, never mind the specifics of what the words say, the impact comes from its revolutionary, youthful defiance in the face of awful adversity.

I was pleased to hear Simon Schama's favouring my own all-time personal favourite rendition, from Casablanca:

Vive la France!: What more can one say?

Monday, 16 November 2015

CEP Conductive Education Press


30 November


CEP has acquired a small stock of books from Susie Mallett's publishing house.

'An extraordinary conductor' – Professor Franz Schaffhauser 

Till the end of November CEP is offering copies of three of CN's books at a reduced price.        
£ 3.00 each
(plus post and packing)

Let me tell you a story, by Susie Mallett

Half-a-dozen essays around conductive pedagogy and upbringing with children and adults

In English, 50 pages, illustrated by the author, colour

(The Chinese edition of this book is not in the present sale)
It came like a bolt from a blue, by Waltraud Heußinger

A post-stroke story in words and pictures, with additional contributions by Werner Heussinger and Susie Mallett

In English and in German (parallel texts), 50 pages, photographs by Werner Heussinger, colour
George's travelogue, by George McDowell

Stories of travel and conductive living, with additional contributions by Susie Mallett, Emma McDowell and Andrew Sutton.

In English and in German (parallel texts), 82 pages, illustrated, colour


CEP also has a very small stock of 'seconds', pre-proof copies of one of its own books, offered at the sale price of

£5.00 each
(plus post and packing)
András Pető, compiled and edited by Gillian Maguire and Andrew Sutton 
András Pető in his own words, and the words of others, with additional contributions by Judit Forrai, Jo LeBeer and Reuven Feuerstein
Text in English, with facsimiles of some of András Pető's poems and technical writing in their original Hungarian and German, 281 pages, indexed, black and white

Regular sales

Copies of the above book, as published, and all CEP's other publications, are available to buy on line in the usual way, at their regular prices. See CEP's online catalogue to order:

Remember, this sale closes
30 November


Order books from this sale on line by emailing, naming the books that you want to buy,how many copies of each you require, and what country you will want them sent to.

Your order will be weighed and its postage individually calculated. You will be sent an invoice by email

On receipt of payment your order will be despatched through the post. Payment will be made via Paypal

If there are any problems over your order, or any other enquiries about CEP, write to

Saturday, 14 November 2015


('It's that man again' – another comedian)
Hungary's Viktor Orban suspects left-wing plot in migrant crisis
' cannot get around imagining that some kind of master plan is behind this... All indications and experience suggest that the overwhelming majority of these migrants will vote for the left once they become citizens, so future leftist voters are being imported to Europe.' 
And who might be behind this? Could it be those 'Cosmopolitans' again?


Hungary's Viktor Orban suspects left-wing plot in migrant crisis
New Delhi Television, 12 November

Friday, 13 November 2015


An education one, to boot

I have been at the Minin State Pedagogic University in Nizhnii Novgorod, inter alia at the All-Russian Scientific and Technical Conference 'Modernisation of Pedagogic Education in the Context of the Global Educational Agenda':

It was good to report Conductive Education to a large, altogether fresh, twenty-first century audience – an audience that was, moreover, oriented to pedagogy and upbringing.

More on this anon.

A few recent postings on Russia

There is more, in earlier years.


(2015) Всероссийская научно-практическая конференция «Модернизация педагогического образования в контексте глобальной образовательной повестки», 10 November