Monday, 29 August 2016

ON THIS WEEKEND

2008-2014

Some time ago

Facebook's daily reminder of items posted on Conductive World 'on this day' in previous years gives me frequent pause for thought.

How much has the world changed and moved on in the time between? How much have I myself changed and moved on?

I am sure that many Facebook-users will know the feeling.

This weekend is a public holiday here. Here are just a few items, a sample of half a dozen items posted on previous August Bank Holidays:

Vygotskii and Conductive Education: rather hard to fit in

Éva Beck offers five principled points

Partnership’, this is one of those words that so much irritates me when I read or hear it

'I wonder whether the day will ever come when the call goes out for apologies from all those who have so vigorously opposed Conductive Education...'

Study to examine the effectiveness of Conductive Education towards the toileting behavior of pre-school children with cerebral palsy, using 'A-B-A' withdrawal single-subject experimental design

To-the-point report, in its entirety, from the English-language news service XpatLoop.com


















Friday, 26 August 2016

CHARTISTS

Jobs vacant

Norman Perrin wonders whether a Charter for Conductive Education might be useful.

He had been rather taken by a Charter for Social Pedagogy in the United Kingdom:


And he has found a couple of other documents that he wonders might be useful as starting points for framing such a thing for Conductive Education:


Both these latter date from the early years of this century. The one is Kati Bíro's synthesis of important points of Mária Hári's thinking. The second is something that I presented myself to a meeting of some of the UK's CE services. Together the two documents are a bit apples and bananas. Kati's/Mária's is directed to the level of individuals, mine towards social policy.

I suppose that the question of what level to pitch 'a charter' is very much one of who it is aimed at, and what it intends to achieve.

Norman writes by the way that it is not his intention to ask how far we have or have not come since 2002. I wonder whether it might be germane to ask who the word 'we' refers to in this context, then and now?

I wonder too what might be produced using some of the language and ideologies of today.

Good luck, Norman, in finding budding Chartists to try this job.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

WHAT PHILOSOPHY?

For Conductive Education

Something is missing

András Pető left behind no explicit, formalisedtheory for those who carried on on his work. To acknowledge this is not to say that what is presently called Conductive Education does not have powerful implicit principles apparent within its attitudes and activities, largely traceable back to his legacy of practice. Rather it recognised that Conductive Education has had to face to task if identifying and articulating its philosophical positions for itself, of looking to already established ways of thinking that help for the job for it.

Those who agree with Kurt Lewin that 'there is nothing more practical than a good theory' will presumably also agree that Conductive Education is therefore in this respect seriously lacking a vital practical tool, to the point of seriously impeding its ability to proceed further toward the oft-expressed goal of becoming an academic (scientific) discipline and a 'recognised profession'.

At a certain stage in the process of acedemicisation and professional development, emerging professional groups may have to beef up their 'academic' credentials, not least for the purposes of their professional plausibility. Think of the Anglo-Piaget cult in Anglophone teacher-education a generation or so ago ( now largely displaced by the new cult of Anglo-Vygotskii).

Training

Around the turn of the century I was involved with creating a training course for conductors. My own philosophical anchor was in the work of L. S. Vygotskii and some of his associates and successors, broadened with a little Makarenko and co. I hoped that my students would find it interesting and stimulating, perhaps even useful, and also that this would at same time impart a degree of plausibility and even respectability in the eyes of the university, external examiners, and possible academic detractors (of which Conductive Education had more than a few, and possibly still has).

No doubt nowadays the growing range of university-level courses dedicated to conductor-training, and those who teach on them, come to their own accommodations on these matters. Perhaps twenty years later, if I were starting again to create such a course from scratch, I would approach this rather differently myself, in the light both of my own developing understandings and of some of the tectonic shifts on the way services have to be provided – and the wider world that makes this so.

I would probably also try to broaden the number of philosophical anchors, permitting a more 'comparative' approach. At a number of levels, for example the need to explore an important theme in the history of András Pető and the rude reality of marketing my course overseas (out East, to be specific), I should feel obliged to come to a public position about Oriental Conductive Education, and include something critical and concrete about the reported influence of 'Oriental philosophy' at the birth of Conductive Education – and further byways in this modern world

I am glad that I no longer have to face this increasingly difficult task, and can leave it to upcoming generations. Comparative or not, however, L. S. Vygotskii and what he represents remain my own prime candidate and the yardstick for any effective philosophical base for conductive pedagogy and upbringing, setting a very high bar for explanatory force, practical utility, historical context and potentially fruitful hypotheses.

Are any other contenders being exercised out there?

Monday, 22 August 2016

BACK LIST

Interesting cache

Mike Lambert has uploaded nine papers written from 1992 to 2004, published and unpublished, to the Academia website (open access, free of charge):


Click to connect

These papers are interesting both for the sake of their content and as contemporary documents within the history of the internationalisation of Conductive Education.


Sunday, 21 August 2016

BRIAN (LORD) RIX

1924-2016

Brian Rix has died. Such a positive life, such a sad end:


It was in late 1986 or early 1987, I think, at the height or the UK's national Conductive Education furore, that I met Brian Rix, at the London headquarters of Mencap. I had asked to see him to inform him and Mencap what Conductive Education was about.

The image of Conductive Education imported from Hungary was already that it was highly selective and that children with mental disabilities were not 'suitable'. The experience of the first British parents who were then taking their children to Budapest was, however, quite to the contrary. It was already apparent that any future for Conductive Education in the United Kingdom would include children with complex intellectual and motor disabilities, so the interest and involvement of Mencap would be important. My hope was that they would wish to join the campaign that has already attracted the concrete support of major non-profits Barnardo's and the Parkinson's Society – and Jack Ashleigh..

Their participation would have also have helped neutralise the Spastics Society's opposition to establishing real Conductive Education,

I went down to London in good spirits to state my position to Brian Rix and significant figures in Mencap.

Brian Rix welcomed me pleasantly and put me at my ease. Then to my surprise a door opened and about half a dozen ladies filed in, under the leadership of Esther Cotton. I had not been forewarned of this. I do not know how this intervention had come about.

I gave my account. Then Esther Cotton pointed out forcefully that there was no need to import Conductive Education as I proposed, though slowly reconstructing the system as developed in Hungary, along the way creating a UK profession of conductor – because the job has already been done and Conductive Education was already here, as witnessed by the work of Esther Cotton and her 'multidisciplinary' companions (with the moral backing of the then highly respected Spastics Society).

What could one say in that context? There was no contest. I heard no more from Mencap, or Brian Rix.

What a sad might-have-been. His moral support alone would have made an important contribution to the cause, never mind other possible backing from Mencap – then and subsequently as the client group of Conductive Education in the UK overlapped increasingly with Mencap's client group.

I recount this sad little tale because it happened so and merits going into the public record. Brian Rix's death presents an opportunity to do so. This represented a small but significant turning point in the story of Conductive Education in the United Kingdom. It reflects no discredit on Brian Rix. He seemed a nice bloke, he attended to what I said with interest and courtesy, and asked sensible questions. As for myself that day perhaps I could have handled things better. But it really was a lose-lose situation...

So farewell Brian Rix. Over your lifetime you made life-enhancing contributions that affected more people than have any of the rest of us us who were present that day.

Such a shame, what happened. Everybody has ended the poorer for it.

Vale et requiesce, Brian Rix.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

LITTLE THINGS MEAN A LOT

Whoever, wherever...

One of the early figures in the internationalisation of Conductive Education is still active, still batting and battling for children with cerebral palsy. In a Guest Editorial to the recent edition of the journal Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology Anita Loring reports an experience through ICPS (International Cerebral Palsy Society) which she continues to chair –
Anushka is 14 years old. She and her parents live a 3-hour drive from Kathmandu, in a village... She is unable to walk, and spends her day sitting outside, propped against the wall of the house...

http://www.readcube.com/articles/10.1111/dmcn.13187
Not an unchangeable fact. A problem to be solved. In the concrete situation. With the family. When appropriate knowledge and expectation are brought in and shared.

One instance among uncountable millions. There are so many worlds where a little sensible suggestion and demonstration could transform understandings, and make for substantial change.

Not just amongst the poorest...

ICPS
Although great advances have been made in the social acceptance and development of services for people with CP and their families in many countries, others still lag behind, or have not yet even reached the starting post. Levels of understanding, development and capability vary enormously from country to country. There is no set pattern of development and the outcome is often unpredictable. But because ICPS has such a unique worldwide resource in the expertise of its membership, it can call upon them to advise and assist in almost any situation.

http://www.icps.org.uk/
Perhaps you could contribute, as an individual or as an organisation.

Friday, 19 August 2016

A GHOST?

In the Gulf

Is the CESK (the Conductive Education School Kuwait) dead, 'resting', or about to be reborn into the public view?

From time to time Google Alerts reports that new information on CESK has come on line (thus there were a sports day and a parents' evening in May of this year). 

Over the last couple of days it has come on line again, twice.

CESK

CESK was once a considerable enterprise, one of the largest 'conductive education schools' anywhere outside Hungary.

It seemed to advertise conductor conductors at an enormous rate (suggesting high turn-over), and adopted a particular form of multidisciplinary practice.

Why CESK disappeared from public view has not been apparent.

A skeletal form

Its recent appearance on the Internet takes the form of the thin skeletal outline of an extensive website – like the skeleton of a leaf:


It is also in Arabic:


Most of these skeleton site's internal links do not work but there are a couple of tiny scraps of flesh remaining on the bones: electronic contact details (email and telephone), and in English the following:
Conductive Education is not a miracle, not a therapy, Not a treatment. It is a system of learning in everyday life'
The holistic approach to educating the ‘whole child’ and supporting the family has proved to be a lifeline for everybody.
'Conductive Education School – Kuwait for Special Needs committed to give to each individual the very best quality of school life, achieving success in their practical, social, and academic life. Conductive Education is removing the obstacle and empowering all the students to achieve their potential. Improving their self-esteem and confidence is central to our programs.
To grow to the optimum in mind, body and spirit, to be confident and happy that is we are aiming for. We believe that confident and happy children become successful learner.
We look forward to help you for a better future. You are an inspiration.
'Empower your children by giving them choices and opportunities.'
Csilla B. Ercan

(Lead Conductor)
http://cesk.edu.kw/website/

And...
Our Vision
To set up a special needs school of excellence to provide complete educational/rehabilitation packages for children and adults with neurological and other disabilities...
Our Mission
To provide the highest quality services for individuals with special needs through the use of Conductive Education and the English National Curriculum to support...
We Believe
We believe that the most successful way to rehabilitate individuals is to teach holistically, in order to cater for the multidimensional needs of our students...
School Aims
The following set of aims is an interpretation of the preceding School Mission Statement and Philosophy. These aims are seen as one link in the chain, which connects the School Philosophy to daily practice, and are to be used as guidelines for educational planning and professional evaluation. In partnership with students, parents, teachers and administrators, Conductive Education School Kuwait intends to:
  • Deliver the highest quality of educational services to each student who chooses our services, regardless of their gender, race, ethnic background, creed and disability.
  • Guide the students to reach their highest potential by incorporating emotional, social, psychological, physical and academic aspects into our daily curriculum and by working constructively with the families of our students to guide them towards a successful future.
  • Engage our pupil’s body, mind and spirit to enable them to become active members of their society, to express themselves, to contribute to their environment and to live a more dignified, independent lifestyle.
  • Maintain a safe, healthy and orderly environment.
  • Employ technology in ways that enhance learning, teaching and non-instructional operations.
  • Maintain positive relations with parents/guardians and the community, emphasizing communications and inviting participation in the school.
  • Maintain and develop the essential qualities of Conductive Education.
http://cesk.edu.kw/website/about-cesk/school-aims/
What does this mean? Google Alerts picks up new postings, but may also catch major revisions. Why are these bones stirring now – for two days running? Is CESK returning to the public gaze?
Previous

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

FOR THE RECORD

Lost and found

The online magazine IQJ (Interconnections Quarterly Journal) no longer publishes but its contents hve been archived on line, including two items that I wrote/co-wrote:

Sutton, A (2008) 1984, 2008, 2050, Interconnections Quarterly Journal, vol. 1, no 1, pp. 4-5

A plea for better words, in and around Conductive Education

Baker, W., Sutton, A. (2008) Parent-child interaction as focus for early intervention: experience from early-age Conductive Education, Interconnections Quarterly Journal, vol. 1, no 2, pp. 14-22

Wendy's related dissertation
'Developing interactions between parents and their young motor-disabled children through Conductive Education'

These items from IQJ are eight years old. Both seem of current validity.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

CONDUCTOR-TRAINING IN FLORIDA

Detailed information on the two Florida courses
Website is model of transparency

The four-year BS conductor training course at ADU (the Adventist University of Health Sciences), now about to enter its second year, offers a very full course guide on its website, for potential students and others interested in what it is doing.

Bachelor of Science in Conductive Education:

Also on line are details of the two-year postgraduate course for those who already hold a first degree:

Post-baccalaureate Certificate in Conductive Education:

Those concerned with the development of conductor-training around the world will find all this fascination reading. One might or might not embrace the model of this training, but the proof of the pudding will have to await till those who complete it enter the jobs market and demonstrate in the real world of practice what they have become.

Meanwhile, ADU's detailed specification offers a template for any other higher-education institutions and Conductive Education centres that might like to follow suit.

Is that 'if', or is that 'when'...?

Previous item




Sunday, 14 August 2016

XUNZI'S WAY (DAO)

One of András Pető's 'oriental philosophies'?
Learning proceeds until death. Only then does it cease... Its purpose cannot be given up for even a moment. To pursue it is to be human, to give it up to be a beast (Xunzi)


荀子

What 'Oriental philosophy'?

One of the oft-stated understandings of András Pető is that both in his personal life and in his later life-work as a rehabilitationist he was highly influenced by 'Oriental philosophy'.

We have his own word for it, as reported by Mária Hári and others who knew him. But specifically, which Oriental philosophies influenced him, which Oriental philosophers? There were after all many such, spanning a range of cultures, traditions and societies over a considerable period of time, and not necessarily mutually compatible!

Like much else to do with the origins of what is presently called Conductive Education, there has been no relevant scholarship on this question. Moreover, there has always to be with András Pető the sneaking suspicion that was laying down a smokescreen, for whatever reason, perhaps to direct attention away from his real thinking, perhaps just to mock and mystify.

A certain something

Meanwhile, conductive pedagogy and upbringing still appear to bear a certain essence (or essences) handed down through its peculiar professional preparation (for which the word 'socialisation' might be a more appropriate term than the more usual 'training'). Just maybe the powerful, implicit contribution of the dominating founding figure, through the Zeitgeist that he bequeathed to what has been a pretty closed community (his institute and its conductors) may have been a powerful factor in the survival of this undefined but perhaps vital certain something.

As the range of trainings widens worldwide, then there are potential questions that that are as yet not being publicly discussed.

And there is also of course, there is still that other elephant in the room – China, and specifically what elsewhere I have termed Oriental Conductive Education. What are the relevant societal and cultural bases active there in teaching and education? And if these can be made explicit and articulated within the West, might Western Conductive Education benefit from understanding more of them?

But who, what, when?

Xunzi

I recently stumbled upon Xunzi 1, who lived in the third century before the Christian era. Xun looks like one likely candidate.

I came across him through reading the words paraphrased at the the head of this posting. Bearing in mind the colossal cultural and historical gulf that separates Xun from ourselves, and more than two thousand years, a superficial look further finds a lot that may seem so very familiar to conductivists. For example, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy writes –
...according to Xunzi the primary aim of education is to master a Way that is the artificial product of human invention. It implies that education is a lengthy endeavor that requires a great deal of effort and dedication from the student; it is not something that comes naturally to us. It also implies that education adds something new to the student; it does not simply develop pre-existing tendencies... education provides a necessary addition to people's natural capacities, which alone are not sufficient for virtue. 
Xunzi's understanding of education and its importance reflects both his pessimism about human nature and his faith in the perfectibility of human beings. He believed that human nature provides a significant barrier to moral improvement, but a barrier that can be overcome, and that people's characters ultimately depend on the habits and customs they acquire as a result of socialization and education, not on their natures. Even 'people in the street' have the capacity to become sages—if they are raised well and they work hard enough to acquire the right sort of education.
...this required the presence of a teacher. Xunzi seems to have placed little or no emphasis on learning general rules of behavior, apparently assuming that we learn better from particular examples.
There are other things that are less familiar (and less palatable) and of course Xun was dealing with a very different kind of education, in a world very different from our own And he was most certainly not dealing with the particular human concerns that occupy Conductive Education!
Xun himself wrote –
The
 learning 
of
 the
 noble 2 person
 enters
 his
 ear, 
is 
stored 
in
 his 
mind,
 spreads 
through
 his
 four
 limbs,
 and
 is
 made
 visible
 in 
his 
activity 
and in
 his 
tranquility.
 In
 his 
smallest
 word,
 in 
his
 slightest
 movement,
 in 
everything, 
he
 may 
be 
taken 
as a 
model
 and
 a
 standard.
 The 
learning 
of 
the 
lesser
 man
 enters
 his
 ear
 and
 comes
 out
 his 
mouth... With 
only four 
inches
 between
 ear
 and 
mouth,
 how
 can
 he
 possess
 it
 long
 enough
 to
 beautify
 a
 seven-foot
 body?

http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/ps/cup/xunzi_encouraging_learning.pdf
And is not something of the stern, demanding András Pető as transmitted by Mária Hári recognisable here...
One
 who 
misses 
one
 shot
 in
 a
 hundred
 does 
not
 deserve
 to
 be 
called
 a
 good
 archer;
 one
 who
 does
 not
 take
 the 
last
 half
 step
 in
 a
 journey of a thousand li 3 does 
not
 deserve
 to
 be
 called
 a
 good
 carriage-driver;
 one
 who
 does 
not
 comprehend
 moral relationships
 and 
categories
 and
 does
 not
 become
 one
 with
 humaneness
 and
 rightness
 does
 not
 deserve
 to
 be
 called
 good
 in
 learning.
 Surely
 learning 
is 
learning
 to 
unify
 oneself 4. Someone
 who 
on
 departing
 does
 one 
thing 
and 
on
 entering 
does 
another 
is 
a 
person
 of
 the
 roads 
and 
alleys;
 one
 who
 does 
a 
small
 amount
 of
 good
 and 
much 
that
 is 
not 
good 
is
 a Jie, a Zhou Xin, a Robber Zhi5Complete
 it, 
realize 
it
 to the 
fullest
 — only 
then
 will
 you
 be 
learned.
 
Ibid. (my emphasis)
Looking this up online on quick guides is hardly scholarship! Just random thoughts during an odd time of the year. Perhaps though these thoughts do move just a little closer to András Pető's 'Oriental philosophy' than do those wretched fish 6. 

Others in Conductive Education, Western or Eastern, might one day explore this question properly, and share it publicly.

Notes

1   Xunzi, or Xun Zi and other spellings, meaning 'Master Xun'
2 'noble': 'educated', or perhaps I should risk substituting 'ortho-functioning'
3   li: Chinese mile
4   my emphasis here
5  Jie, Zhou Xin and Robber Zhi: the three great villains of Chinese history, utterly and irredeemably depraved and wicked
6   http://www.conductive-world.info/2013/07/1.html  授人以鱼,不如授之以渔