Monday, 26 January 2015

ANDRÁS PETŐ COLLEGE:STRATEGIC PLAN

Business planning for diversification
Not the institution that one knew

Máté Mihályi, the new Chancellor of the PAF (the András Pető College) took up his post at the beginning of last October. He has made what appears to be his first public statement in an interview with Daniel Kacsoh, published in yesterday's Népszáva. 

It goes something like this

The Pető Institute takes advantage of its opportunities
'Financial problems stemmed from previous falling away of international aid, which the organization was not prepared for.'
Quality improvement is not just expansion of resources, but also of use and deployment of public funds, says newly appointed chancellor, Máté Mihályi.
Much has been heard about the Pető Institute of late, he continues, because of its funding problems, as a result of which the state has taken over maintenance of the institution, creating the András Pető College.

What led to this? The chancellor system has actually just been introduced to managing higher education institutions through a kind of managerial approach. For this, you need professionals able to explore barriers to efficiency, with the ability to identify operational anomalies. But it is equally important to strengthen the so-called 'hidden values', use of existing resources. The aim is to work more effectively. As for the Pető Institute, it is vitally important to safeguard conductor-training... As far as I know, the financial troubles of the past resulted largely from dwindling international aid, which the organization was not prepared for. The Chancellor is there not merely to perform financial tasks under the law, including human resources, procurement, legal, administrative and operational tasks, IT and other tasks have to be included. An important component of the new system is that its professional direction can really concentrate on educational and research activities. As a result, the level of education increases, and an outside, fresh approach can help a lot.
For the András Pető College how do opportunities for innovation arise? So far, screening is taking place, but I now see areas where you can do things order to improve a successful operation....The design of the optimal operation of the courses will be shared with colleagues, as in the context of long-term business strategy it is necessary to work together closely with the Chancellor. Regarding cooperation, this has been mostly good experiences. General objective to be not just a charge on the state's budget, but we can also be more involved in external sources. We have to win potential funders.

What other opportunities arise? There are not just supporters to look out for but also companies and organizations that might co-operate in other fields.The college's professional knowledge can offer not only experience in the field of medical devices, but in insurance, medical informatics, health tourism markets, even the field of health promotion lie before our feet... The point is that along with the teaching and research areas, it should be on the look-out for opportunities – with of course the international line remaining the flagship. This, however, can be strengthened too.

Is there any pressure on the Chancellor from the Government to produce results? Quality improvement is not only in forestry resources but also in public funds, for goods produced, optimal premises management, and redeployment. This is no external pressure other than from the country and the common interests of taxpayers. If you like, a moral imperative that you need to feel all those involved. In addition, it is important to ensure transparency, especially for authenticity. This is independent of whether there will be more or less aid. As chancellor, I wish to focus primarily in developing an effective framework for the operation.
No doubt we shall hear more or all this, somehow or other.

Original Hungarian text and photograph

Kacsoh, D. (2015) A Pető Intézet kihasználja lehetőségeit, Népszáva, 27 January 

COMIC CUT

Funny or what?

I went to a meeting this morning. Gill Maguire was there and shared a copy of the Metro free newspaper that she had picked up on the train. She did so because of a cartoon strip that she had found on page 48.

The cartoon, Pearls before Swine, is written in the United States by former lawyer Stephan Pastis, and is syndicated internationally.

The strip in the morning's Metro showed regular characters Rat and Goat sitting in a diner, or possibly bar. The following conversation occupies four frames –
RAT   I HAVE A LARGE BRAIN AND IT'S BEEN CONCLUSIVELY PROVEN THAT THOSE WITH LARGER BRAINS ARE SMARTER THAN THOSE WITH SMALLER BRAINS

GOAT  THAT'S NOT TRUE.

RAT   YES, IT IS
GOAT   HOW DO YOU KNOW?

RAT   BECAUSE SOMETHING IS TRUE WHENEVER YOU SAY IT'S BEEN CONCLUSIVELY PROVEN!

GOAT   THAT'S NOT HOW IT WORKS.
RAT   HEY, IN AN AGE WHERE NO ONE READS, IT'S HOW THAT WORKS.

Given the topic of the meeting this raised a bit of a laugh. Nicely spotted Gill, we needed a laugh. So I repeat it here.

Contrariwise

If you've got it flaunt it. Again, and again and again. This is hardly a new thought of course.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works...
King James Bible, 1611, Matthew, 5:15 and 5:16

The brain-believers, the dyslexia front, spectrophiles, and uncountable others with a cause to advance, they all appear to know this well and act accordingly. We were considering why conductors and the world of Conductive Education as a whole seem to favour the bushel approach to public awareness of their work. Yes, we needed a laugh.

Reference

Pastis, S. (2015 Pearls before swine, Metro, 26 January, p. 48


SEN 'REFORMS' IN ENGLAND

What the punters think: first glimpse

Lickspittles and running dogs in a variety of institutions and professions have already expressed their unqualified welcome for HM Government's legislative changes for 'special educational needs' in England. The website Special Needs Jungle has conducted a snap ad hoc survey of what parents think about it so far:


What do they think about it so far?

As summarised by Debs Aspland –
We received one response that was positive.
However, the others all raised similar issues and to be frank, can be summed up by one comment we received: 'The aspiration of the government is not the reality of the local authority. It has been diluted down considerably'.
Parents' responses are exemplified under the following heads:
  • Lack of Understanding or Knowledge – LA or Practitioners

  • Parental and Young Person Involvement & Co-Production

  • Poor, wrong, misleading or no information for families

  • Personal Budgets

  • Transition to Adulthood

  • Confidence in the SEND reforms

Well worth reading in full.

What next?
All of the comments we received (over 30 pages) have been passed to Edward Timpson [the Minister responsible].He seemed keen to look through them. We look forward to his response once he has had the chance to read your comments.
This is not of course a 'scientific survey'. This is politics.

Reference

Aspland D. (2015) SEND reforms: What YOU told us, Special Needs Jungle, 26 January


(Apologies for formatting: problems from cut and paste)

100 DAYS

No apologies

It is now 100 days till the General Election in the United Kingdom. Over this period Conductive World will reflect some of the political jostling might possibly relate to Conductive Education and its future.

Some of all this may be directly relevant to those who live and work in the UK. Readers elsewhere, however, might also wish to maintain a cautious watch on this. After all, for whatever reason, what happens in Conductive Education in that country may still have a bearing on what happens elsewhere in the world – for good or for ill.

No apologies to Conductive World's international readership if the the United Kingdom is over-represented in the content of its blog and its Facebook page over the next 100 days.

Wherever you are, of course, you are free to ignore this – and perhaps experience the greater surprise when something turns up in the future, wherever you are, as part of a trend or even official policy meme that personally affects you.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

GOING FORWARD

Showing uncertainly

Speakers in the business world and in government are fond of saying 'going forward' to mean 'from now on', 'in the future', or even 'now'. It gives a sense of action, purpose, and direction that appeals to many people.

However many other people find it pretentious and annoying, especially when it is used simply to indicate that the future is being talked about. Since in English our verbs do this job nicely, “going forward” is often superfluous. In a statement like 'Going forward, we’re going to have to budget more for advertising', the sentence would be just as clear and less cluttered if the first two words were dropped.



Going forward is purported to mean 'in the future' or 'somewhere down the road' when in fact it is an attempt to dodge the use of these words, which generally indicate 'I don't know'. A newer development in corporate doublespeak, in most companies it is grounds for dismissal to release a press release without mentioning something 'going forward'. Going forward, you will likely see this turning up everywhere.



'Thinking outside the box' and 'going forward' are some of the most hated management phrases, a survey has found.


...etc.

Recent posting on language

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

GET CARTER

Triumph of the flannel
Words fail

Publication of the official review of ITT ('initial teacher training') in England offers an index of how far an education system can sink in terms of addressing the real processes of its practical work. The just published Carter Review of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) deals with a huge and vital sector of the national educational system, and manages to do so without saying anything of educational substance, or for that matter anything about training teachers how to teach from the outset of their careers.

This report states no explicit ideology, offers no philosophy, no theory, and no substantial reference to the process of educational practice. What are the ethics of all this? What is child development, how does it relate to education, what are the aspirations of parents, how does the whole thing actually work to help create the next generation? How does one teach children, how do they best learn, how does one act to come to answers to such questions and then transfer the knowledge gained to future generations, Who knows? Who cares?

And before you ask, yes pedagogy is mentioned (a word count of twenty over 80-odd pages) but it no longer seems to mean the science of skill of teaching. Instead it features as part of the frequently met fallacy of subject-pedagogy), a belief that better knowledge of the subject being taught is often associated with being better teachers, ergo knowing the subject being taught is the (sole knowable?) way to improving how it is taught.  As in this document as a whole, no relevance substance. 'Pedagogy' is another good word now being debased.

SEND (Special educational needs and disability)

SEND features big in the Carter Review. Here we go again, unquestioningly:
All teachers are potentially teachers of SEND.(p.34)
What, however, is involved here? What ought teachers to know. about the pupils, their families, their social, mental and physical conditions? How do children learn and develop? How does one intervene in all this and to what ends?

What's it all about, and how might one best introduce it all to teachers at the start of their careers? Patently, as the report acknowledges, the present system does not satisfy them, for example:
...SEND remains one of the lowest rated aspects of training for primary trainees.(p. 58)
And the situation continues to deteriorate.

So what are the fundamental steps to take to remedy this? None are suggested here.

Get it

It is most frustrating to search through this document looking for what is actually meant in terms of knowing what to do to train better teachers (or even acknowledging that this task is just an inseparable part of interlocking problems in and around England's education system. It just does not say anything.

Instead it smothers the topic with a stifling blanket of the same old stuff, yet more of the usual flannel, sounding much but saying nothing.

What to do about this? Words fail. Is it best just to tiptoe away and ignore the whole matter?

Of course, if you work in the English education system you are obliged to take it into account. If your experiences lead you to despair about how little teachers and schools understands about 'SEND' – not least but hardly exclusively for children with motor disorders and other disabilities – if you really want to do something about this, then you have no choice. If you want fully to understand the magnitude of the problem that you face, get Carter, read it critically, and do not fail to take account of what it tells you about the world in which you operate.

That of course also goes for everyone wishing to advance the education of children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities, and the cause of Conductive Education in England.

Who writes this sort of stuff?

Who knows? Policy wonks and pointy heads with no experience or even contact with the matters under their consideration? 'Consultants'? 'Managers'? 'Academics'? A committee? 

These people are named:


And criticised:


The eponymous Sir Andrew Carter OBE? Who he? He is a primary-school head-teacher, knighted last year 'for services to education'. None the worse for that. These services might in fact stand comparison with the epics of education, the pedagogic poems, of the likes of A. S. Makarenko. If they do, though, there is no sign of them here, smothered under the blanket of official flannel.

Reference

Carter, A. (2015) Carter Review of Initial Teacher Training (ITT), London, Department for Education


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

ENGLAND: SPECIAL SCHOOLS

Official imprimatur of a sort?

In an article by Laura McInerney, in this morning's Guardian newspaper, of all places –
Last term 35% of special schools visited by Ofsted inspectors received an 'outstanding' grade. That’s a stunning rate, and yet no one seemed to notice.
http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/jan/20/ofsted-sen-schools-outstanding

Ofsted is England's privatised school-inspection service. Its judgements can be... quixotic.

The Guardian projects liberal, leftist and would-be radical middle-class attitudes. Its support for all-inclusive inclusion had been largely uncritical. Could such a report be indicative of a shift in Zeitgeist, in either Ofsted or in the Guardian? Might there after all be something positive to say about at least some special schools, in some respects anyway?

Or is there another explanation (one that the writer herself affirms that she does not want to not believe) –
Instead of brilliant schools, could it be that inspectors are overly moved by a syrupy view of disability? When they observe happy children with complex needs who appear to behave and look well treated, do inspectors whack out generous “outstanding” judgments as a way of rewarding the school for relieving society of its guilt about what to do with disabled children, rather than basing the grading on whether students are being fully extended to learn? ...
Are special needs schools an untrumpeted triumph of our schools sector, or is their success an example of endemic low expectations?

Misleading pic

The presumably stock photo that heads this piece is probably of no relevance or significance whatsoever to the article itself – and one should not over-interpret a still photograph to guess at either the movement caught in a single instant or wider processes and purposes, of which the activity snapped there is but one small part.

That said, what is illustrated at the head of this article, what is actually being taught and learned, cognitively and emotionally. It could be a bit of really worthless time-filling, or even counter-productive pedagogic practice...

What is the Guardian really telling its bien-pensant readers?

Reference

McInerney, L. (2015) Top Ofsted rating for many SEN schools – so why aren’t we trumpeting success? Guardian, 20 January


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

SOME WORDS

Prepared earlier (in 2008)


1984, 2008, 2050

Andrew Sutton

Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote –
The limits of my language mean the limits of my world
Every week on Radio 4’s Today programme John Humphrys determinedly challenges government ministers and other worthies to explain what their clichés and gobbledegook actually mean. For without real meaning policies are unrealisable, and they and their perpetrators are just that little more unaccountable. That goes for all of us.

Policy and practice

They say ‘a fish stinks from the head’, but the tendency to blur meanings and distinctions has not just happened top-down but thrives at all levels, to the extent that one must question whether we have a technical vocabulary at all worthy of the title.

Here, in no particular order (except that my least favourite is at the beginning) are some frequently met word and phrases:
    support, cope, wrap-around, roll out, evaluation, needs, monitoring, assess, joined-up, choice, community, feedback, networking, consultation, inclusive, efficient, evidence-based, fast-track, targets, deliverables, standards, hands-on, come to terms, partnership, value (as in value-added), best practice, counselling, quality/quality-assurance, vision, benchmark, audit, leadership, access, challenge, closure, engage, assessment, stakeholders, diversity, celebrate, reflective, critique, key, synergy, team, toolkit, leverage, discourse, empower, green…
There can be few who read this list who cannot add their own.

Many of these words once had real meaning but it can be hard now to convey that original sense – rendering the sense itself at risk of extinction. How, for example, can you now unambiguously refer to what used to be meant by a ‘student’, or what used to be understood to constitute ‘leadership’?

Where do such new words and meanings come from? Some are ‘warm fuzzies’, that appear to mean something and in fact don’t – but aim to attract a benign glow (‘community’ is used a lot like that, in different ways). Then there are words that once had real, even distinguished, meaning but have been so bandied around by politicians, academics and bureaucrats as to be now actively misleading (think of ‘inclusive’). There is psycho-babble (‘come to terms’), post-modernist discourse (‘engage’), an avalanche of management-speak (pick your own examples, there are enough of them!) and any government coinage meant to signify a new idea (‘joined-up’).

Ministers and officials love such words. Read or listen to their utterances and cringe. But what is on offer instead in the way of a technical vocabulary through which to communicate and extend – yes and to challenge (original sense) and to refute – concepts and practices central to the actual services that clients receive?

Of course there should be new words and concepts as the world and our understandings of it change (even perhaps in some instances advance). When language changes we all play our part. Do we know what we are really talking about half the time, do we speak in a truly technical language mutually understood?

What is a ‘special needs child’? Who attends a ‘special needs school’? What exactly does a ‘special needs teacher’ or a ‘special needs assistant’ bring to the party in the way of additional skills and understandings – and the special activities that these imply? What on earth does ‘inclusion’ mean in this country today? What does ‘autistic’ convey? What is ‘dyslexia’ when it’s at home? Does the word ‘play’ have any commonly understood meaning and is the newly fashionable word ‘pedagogy’ any more than hot air?

Unsupportable

My own least favourite jargon word is ‘support’. In my ordinary real-world English dictionary the word ‘support’ already has 11 definitions. In the world of social policy and provision (somewhere that can sometimes seem not just another country but another planet) the range in its meanings seems infinite. Worse, such meanings are rarely if ever defined, one blurring unproblematically into the next, without apparent need for clear boundaries. You can support children and their families, support special educational needs, support inclusion, support pupils with disabilities, support the curriculum, support language, support emotional development, support behaviour (and even support ‘challenging behaviour’), support communities, support teachers, support support assistants...

Perhaps most fundamentally, and most undefinedly you can support learning – what does that mean in concrete terms that everyone can sign up to? In every instance ‘support’ presumably represents one or more professional practices that may or may not be defined (but are rarely identified) by this single all-encompassing word.

Even within a single example, does the word ‘support’ have a single specified meaning that everybody – or anybody – understands? What does it actually tell us that somebody will be actually doing, say, at 11.15 on a Tuesday morning, in the real world of practice? What specific skills will be exercised, what particular activities undertaken, what is really going to be happening? What can users of the service concretely expect? A Statement of Special Educational Needs that declares that there should be ‘support’ is no more acceptable than a prescription that just says ‘medicine’.

Whoever you are – no-nonsense grass-roots practitioner, manager or decision-maker, academic or researcher – try a personal experiment. For a whole week, every time that you hear or read the word ‘support’, ask yourself exactly what this means in practice. As for yourself, every time that the word springs to your lips or your computer, or even enters your thoughts, jump on it and hold it back. Try instead to express exactly what you mean in practice. If you can think of a better word, then communication and thinking – and maybe practice too – will be that little clearer. And if you can’t, well, maybe you didn’t really have anything practical to say or do in the first place.

Parents, clients, expect something rather better than this when they first enter the Orwellian realm of the ‘support services’. What is the matter with our children? What are you going to do about it? What is going to happen? How will this all turn out? What do you mean by ‘Support for their special needs?’ Real people want concrete answers, not flannel.

Dates

An ‘Orwellian realm’? In the novel 1984, George Orwell foresaw a fictional language called Newspeak, the aim of which was to make any alternative speech or thinking impossible by removing words or constructs permitting independent thought. By 2050 all knowledge of the previous language would have disappeared and the whole literature of the past destroyed. The underlying theory was that if something can’t be said or read, then it can’t be thought.

Orwell was a bit out with his dates. I remember the year 1984: it was nothing like he predicted. Already in 2008, however, and not just in ‘special needs’, his 2050 seems well on its way! How many younger professionals, for example, can read and understand the technical literature of just a few years ago?

We are not, however, helpless. If the solution of this problem is not in our own hands, then what is?

First published...

The above passage has been extracted from a short item published in 2008:

Sutton, A. (2008) 1984, 2008 and 2050, Interconnections Quarterly Journal, vol. 1, no 1, April. 

If anything, since them the problem outlined above has only worsened. Indeed, England now has legislation for children with special needs and their parents that is dependent upon such undefined definitions.  

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

FREE CONFERENCE

7 February
Première conférence au CEC du Gard
le samedi 7 février 2015
Bonjour,
Nous organisons la première conférence au CEC du Gard

Elle se déroulera le samedi 7 février 2015 de 9H à midi, 34 route de Nîmes, 30870 Clarensac (à côté de la bibliothèque)
Elle tournera autours du thème de l'éducation conductive. Elle s'adresse à la fois aux personnes pratiquant déjà l'éducation conductive mais aussi aux personnes qui souhaitent découvrir la méthode.
PROGRAMME :
9 h:  Accueil, collation

9h30: Rapide présentation du CEC du Gard et de l'association, Madame Fanny Grau Coppieters, directrice du CEC du Gard

10h: Présentation de l'éducation conductive, Madame Judit PAZMANY, conductrice-sénior

10h30: (sujet en attente de validation), Monsieur Frédéric Guez, Osthéopathe DO, directeur du centre Essentis

11h: Aider à augmenter le potentiel des enfants dans le mouvement pour accompagner pleinement l'éducation conductive , Dr Régine Zekri-Hurstel, neurologue fonctionnel

11h30: questions et table ronde

12h: pot de fin

Cette conférence est gratuite et ouverte à tous

Pour plus de renseignements : 06 60 04 92 87

Which being translated –

First conference of CEC du Gard

Saturday, 7 February, 2015
0900-1200
34 route de Nîmes, 30870 Clarensac
(next door to Library)

The theme will be Conductive Education, for both those already practising Conductive Education and those wishing to find out about the method.

PROGRAMME

9:00:   Reception, snack

9:30:   Presentation of the Gard CEC and the Association, Fanny Grau Coppieters, Director of the Gard CEC

10.00:  Presentation on Conductive Education, Judit Pázmány, Senior Conductor

10:30: Frédéric Guez, Osteopath, Director of Essentis Center (to be confirmed)

11am:  Help increase children's potential for movement so as fully to support the Conductive Education, Dr. Regine Zekri-Hurstel, functional neurologist

11:30: Questions and round table

12.00:  Wrap-up

The conference is free and open to all.


Monday, 12 January 2015

ARTICLE IS YET ANOTHER MISSED CHANCE

And it stands alone

Just before the New Year Conductive World briefly noted the free online availability of a review article from the United States, on Conductive Education:
Read the full article and judge for yourself whether in the specific case of this article the world is the poorer because of this – or otherwise.
http://www.conductive-world.info/2014/12/now-free-and-on-line.html
Over the last couple of weeks more that a hundred people have clicked across and maybe read this article, perhaps even come to their own conclusions of its worth. My own take is that the article was a chance missed, both what was written for publication and in how little over the five years since its publication this article appears to have been used to spark desperately needed professional attention and discussion of Conductive Education.

The authors' account of what is CE is misguided, just chewing over yet again the old, mistaken 'principles'. How on Earth can anyone realistically consider that such activities could create the varied practices that constitute Conductive Education, and its enormous significance to those who become involved? There is no indication that the authors have actually examined the experience or substance of Conductive Education other than through  one case study and a selection of the literature of usual suspects.

The concluding discussion is largely descriptive and does not actually say much. Some of what it does say is just vacuous. What for example does the following sentence intend to convey?
Because of their focus on developmental goals, the programs are not appropriate for typically developing children.

It looks like the writers just cannot come to grips with what they perhaps sense might be involved, so they  shy away or prevaricate, as here for example:
The philosophy of CE does not fit with the philosophy of inclusion, but the social benefits of spending time with children with similar disabilities may be worthwhile.

Their coverage of CE research and what parents might conclude from it fails for the same reason.

The article was published in 2009, since when Conductive Education has edged a little further forward, in some places and in some respects. The published materials referred to in this review look antediluvian. In so far as the economic recession has unleashed a flood of suppressed stresses across its social environment, in a very real sense antediluvian is exactly what they are! Since then, there have appeared an as yet unresearched and still expanding range of new practices, and rather more literature in which one now read more widely around Conductive Education, in practice and in theory, from a variety of viewpoints.

For the meantime, however, this inadequate and misleading review article still stands lonely and prominent in the 'special education literature', defining Conductive Education to a disinterested educational world.

References

Ratliffe, K. T., Sanekane, C. (2009) Conductive education benefits and challenges, Teaching Exceptional Children, vol. 41, pp. 68-72

Sutton, A (2014) now free and online: American special-education article on CE, Conductive World, 29 December
http://www.conductive-world.info/2014/12/now-free-and-on-line.html