Thursday, 2 October 2014


Includes fascinating brochure

The PAF's new website is awakening to life:

In addition to the academic programme, this now includes information in Hungarian on the inner structure of the PAF (Pető András College, the former Pető Institute):

English and Russian (and Italian?)

Old information in English and Russian is reappearing. A page in Italian is flagged but not yet there

Don't miss the brochure

At the foot of the homepage some rather triksy links might mean that you miss turning the PDF pages of a little illustrated brochure, introduced by Franz Schaffhauser – under the slogan 'A healthy nation builds a strong country'.

Search it out and work out how to turn the pages, to gain interesting glimpses into the PAF's preferred image:

The contents merit careful study.

Previous posting on this topic


Too deep for tears
The high jinks of the neuro people have attracted considerable attention in Conductive Education over the years. 
If you fancy a wry grin, you might enjoy some of the following:
You have to laugh...
Ten percent of the brain
The film, Lucy, looks like it is conceived out of the Braveheart tradition of neuropsychology, and may grant further bemused amusement:
To be serious for a moment:

Brookes, X. (2014) Lucy review – Luc Besson's cerebral sci-fi is set to overload, Observer, 24 August

Burnett, D. (2014) Brand new brain myths to keep neurobloggers in work, Guardian (blog), 29 September
Fine, C, (2014) 'Mind change: how digital technologies are leaving their mark on our brains' (review of book by Susan Greenfield), Financial Times, 15 August
Jarrett, C. (2012) All you need to know about the 10 percent brain myth, in 60 seconds, Brain Watch, 2 July

Wednesday, 1 October 2014


That's nice, isn't it?

I am not sure how I feel about this – though from what I see it seems that many people who have a connections with the cerebral palsies seem to feel it unproblematically 'nice'. I am very suspicious of umproblematical nices. Perhaps I am wrong in this, and perhaps I am the only lonely curmudgeon who thinks that the very notion of 'cerebral palsy' is a problem in itself and that a 'day', whatever other purposes it might serve, also stamps that questionable notion ever deeper into the public consciousness.

I suppose therefore that my contribution to today's festivities should be to suggest that a hard look ought to be taken at this supposed diagnosis, the legitimacy of any diagnosis's serving as the basis for categorising the human circumstances (including the problems) of living, and the persisting extraordinary separation of cerebral palsies and other motor disorders from the rest of special education.

I suppose that I could have elaborated on this position and submitted it, but I felt that such an a priori consideration was not a likely vote-winner.

In the meantime, I know that Conductive Education places around the world, are making their own contributions. Here are two examples, both nice:

What message, though, does Conductive Education as such have to offer the world of cerebral palsy?

Recently Norman Perrin asked on line whether Conductive Education has a 'distinctive view' of cerebral palsy. Well, does it?

Tuesday, 30 September 2014


Press round-up

High on the agenda of the German committee that organised the 8th World Congress on Conductive Education almost a year ago was to create public awareness of konduktive Förderung in Germany, through coverage in the German press.

To help achieve this the Nuremberg Society for People with Physical Disabilities lent the services of its public relations officer, Anna Souksenphet-Dachlauer.

Now published is a round-up of press activity generated by the Congress, on paper and electronically, with photocopies of newspaper items supplemented by a selection of mentions of the Congress on line.


Souksenphet-Dachlauer, A. (2014) Pressespiegel / Press review, 8th World Congress on Conductive Eduction, 9-12 October 2013, Nuremberg, Verein für Menschen mit Körperbehinderung, Nürnberg

Monday, 29 September 2014


La Poste Conductive

Des blogs français sur l'éducation conductive ont fait leur apparition sur la Poste Conductive (le «blog de blogs» conductive).

La France conductive

L'intensification de l'activité dans le monde réel de l'éducation conductive en France se traduit par une activité dans le cyberespace, l'émergence d'une blogosphère francophone:

Dans le même temps, cependant, le blog pensif de langue française de parents belges semble avoir cessé de paraître. Dommage:

Et il semble toujours y avoir rien de langue française du Canada. Dommage aussi.

Une carte de la France conductive en 2014


Et maintenant,  sont les bloggeurs Allemands?

Sunday, 28 September 2014


A disorder in communication

From a report on a bun fight put on by the Department of Education (in London, where else?) to mark its new system of 'Special Educational Needs' now imposed on England  
Of particular note was a young lady named Emma, from the EPIC group, who has autism. She had no fear in introducing herself to our small group chatting, including Stephen Kingdom, the Deputy Director of SEND. Emma is exactly the kind of young person these reforms are about – she worked on advising the government about what young adults wanted from the reforms. Emma’s dream job is to join the police, but said she had been told she wouldn’t be able to because of her autism. I think perhaps the police should start rethinking their policy as someone with Emma’s charm, confidence and passion could certainly help the force understand how to approach and help those with disabilities such as autism when they need to. 
 Humpty Dumpty on semantics and pragmatics –
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.'
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, 1872

Leo Kanner died in 1981...

How far we have come​, in so many respects:

Saturday, 27 September 2014


Require open recruitment

On Conductive World Market yesterday Jen Czzowitz Wymer posted the job description for the post of Lead Conductor at Steps to Independence, a non-profit CE Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:

This is not just interesting for job-seekers but will be useful for other centers (and centres) considering development of similar jobs. It also raises a wider matter, openness.


Soon doubtless we shall be seeing another leading job posted, in Magyar Közlöny, the Hungarian official bulletin – for leadership of the PAF, the András Pető College:

This will of course be very different in its specifics from the job in Pittsburgh but presumably the recruitment process will also be handled with maximal transparency as part of restoring public (and international) confidence.

Friday, 26 September 2014


A conductive parent looks back
Yesterday Conductive World touched on inclusion and about what the aspirations of thirty or so years ago look like today:
In response, doyenne conductive parent and CE advocate, Emma McDowell responds, with a look back over the same timespan, and more, from the perspective of a service-user –
I too am annoyed (exasperated, or despairing) at parents' short-sightedness when they condemn their obviously special children to mainstream 'education', based on illusion, self-deception, wrong advice, faulty understanding of equal opportunities, or I don’t know what else. Ignorance, mainly.  And an unfortunate collective social memory of 'special schools'– where only the really, really severely and multiply disabled children go.
As you know, 40 years ago we parents did not have the choice: handicapped child = special school. OK, I was lucky to find the Institute in Budapest well before my George’s compulsory school age, but when he reached that he had to go to special school in Belfast. OK, we manipulated things somehow: to give him a ‘conductive upbringing’ in spite of the 'soft' educational discipline at the school and its low expectations. While George attended his special school during most of the school year, he also had longish 'refresher courses' in Budapest and, since I fully subscribed to the principles of Conductive Education, we tried to practice these in our daily lives. 
Yet – and I never thought that I would say this – special school as a basis, since  we did not live in Budapest and there was no CE then anywhere else, was still better than trying to establish George in the local primary school, even though that’s what I wanted to do when he was seven, and that’s what he was prevented from doing. He could walk a bit by then but he certainly could not have participated in a lot of the school’s activities, and trying to do so he would have had to get used to the wheelchair (and later to an electric one, as George has quite a serious form of cerebral palsy).
At his special school, however, he enjoyed the yearly drama performance, the sports day, swimming, riding and, yes, he did get SOME physiotherapy, occupational and speech therapy incorporated in the school routine. They also let him walk with his sticks and, once he had learned (at the Institute in Budapest) to walk without them – yes, in a protected environment.
I do not understand why today’s special schools – or rather, special pre- and nursery schools – cannot be run on a Conductive Educational basis, seeing how well conductive principles can be embedded in ALL the good education that children with physical and/or learning difficulties need, and then continue on into in a mainstream environment when they are ready for it, physically and characterwise… possibly earlier than 17 years of age, when George was finally allowed to enter college in the bad old days...

Just under a year ago George presented at the 8th World Congress on Conductive Education, in Fürstenfeldbruck near Munich. This coincided with publication of a book that collects together some of what he has written (published in English and in German).

Emma remains a enthusiast for the conductive lifestyle, and a vocal advocate of the rights of carers.


McDowell, G, (2013) What does conductive lifestyle mean to me? Abstract Book: 8th World Congress on Conductive Education, Fürstenfekdbruck, 9-12 October, pp. 196-197

McDowell, G, (2013) George's Travelogue / Urlauberlebnisse von George McDowell, Nuremberg, CN Press 
To obtain copies, email conductor Susie Mallett at

Thursday, 25 September 2014


How far have we come​?


A little over thirty years ago I contributed to the then highly regarded and influential Open University course E241, Special Needs in Education, that was put together by Will Swann, Tony Booth and Patricia Potts. (My own contribution was Unit 8 'The Powers that be', an enquiry into aspects of the political history of special education in England).

At the time, the course was right at the cutting edge of thinking about the inclusion of children considered under the then still new rubric of 'special educational needs'. I did not wholeheartedly agree with every aspect of the thinking of the course team but I was very pleased to be part of what I considered a pretty high-class act, both academically and ethically. I could not of course foresee how how the future would go but the quality of E241 reinforced an impression of the time that the likely direction would be up.

...and now

Now we are where we are, and I am relieved that my day-today existence is longer bound up with the professional and institutional systems supposedly serving children who have 'special educational needs, their parents and those employed to teach them.

Indeed I am so removed that I no longer know what it is actually like in that particular slice of the 'real world'.

So what is it like now? Thirty years on everything costs a whole lot more, not least because of all the new jobs that have been created in order to 'support'. Where has it all lead, those high ideals and that hard analysis?

This week the ­Special Needs Jungle has recommended an article to wider attention, not I guess something that it does lightly. Does this really paint a fair picture of SEN England 2014? It is written by an anonymous assistant headteacher in a school for pupils with 'learning difficulties'.

Read it yourself. It will not take you long:

Introducing this article, Tania Tirraoro, the Editor of Special Needs Jungle, sums up what she herself understands by inclusion –
...for me, it’s about being in the right school for the child’s needs, whatever kind of school that is.

So there you are folks, that's all right then. In the best of all possible worlds, anything goes. We have come a long way.

If this really how things are now? If so, I do hope that Conductive Education has the strength to buck the trend.


– (2014) Inclusion? Specially Teaching, 20 September

Sutton, A. (1982) The Powers that be (E241/8), Milton Keynes, Open University Press

Tirraoro, T. (2014) What inclusion really means…, Special Needs Jungle, 22 September

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


More research is needed

A hole in the road

One of Ralph Strałkowski's earthly stories with a heavenly meaning, yesterday's serving of Lawyer on Wheels concludes –
And it seems I'm constantly reminded of the importance of not giving up easily. If someone says No, ask again. And then again. Or try a different approach. If you say 'Somebody should do something' don't just nod and walk away. Why shouldn't this somebody be you, why can't the time be now?

'Never, never quit!' 'Just do it!' These are popular expressions, not alleged old Chinese proverbs – they are nonetheless useful slogans, idées fixes, Leitmotifs, for conductive pedagogy and upbringing, for conductive learning and development, for conductive lifestyle and living. Are they not indicative of that sometimes elusive goal and outcome (for everyone involved) of the 'orthofunctional personality'?​​

These expressions are also the titles of two books about Conductive Education:

More research is needed

'More research is needed' is another popular expression.

This expression usually refers to comparative outcome evaluation, an persistent problems of which in Conductive Education has been failure to find appropriate outcome criteria to distinguish it effectively from other approaches..

If the expressions 'Never, never quit!' 'Just do it!' really do epitomise something essential in both the process and the product of Conductive Education, then operationalising thisdomain in terms of empirical evaluation is something for would-be outcome-evaluators really to get their teeth into.

Doing so raises the level of analysis to the psychosocial (including consideration of values) and might also shed revealing light on a whole range of questions, not just relating to Conductive Education.


Strałkowski, R. (2014) Somebody should do something, Lawyer on Wheels, 23 September