Friday, 28 August 2015

ZITA MAKÓI

(1939-2015)

Ádám Schmideg  writes  
Dear All,
I am sad to tell you my Mom, Dr Zita Makói passed away on 12th August 2015 in the morning. We were with her ​​the previous day, she was weak, but conscious, sometimes even smiling. She lived 75  rich  years.
We will meet at her funeral on September 1st at 11:15 AM in the cemetery at Fiumei út 16, Budapest, Hungary, 1086. The funeral home is a 10 minute walk from the main entrance or you can drive up to there.
She had so many friends around the world far away. If you can not come in person, please stop at that time, be quiet, and think of her. You can even light a candle. However sad we are, I think she would prefer a light-hearted ceremony.
Let peace be with her!
Ádám, her son, Lizi, her granddaughter, and her loving family
Ádám Schmideg 
Email: adam@schmideg.net
Phone: +36209375924 
Mailing address: Budapest, H-1073, Hungary, Kertész u. 39
Zita took up the Rektorship of the troubled International Pető Institute in February 20o6, at a particularly low point in its public esteem. She was treated shabbily there by a faction of staff who had been opposed to the Trustees of the then International Pető Foundation appointing her as Rektor. They locked her out her office, wore green ribbons to signify their oposition to her appointment, and made sure that all this was open to the public media who treated it as soap opera, thereby bringing the institution into yet further public disrepute. Zita appeared to handle this with dignity. Whatever the rights and wrongs behind this dispute, she stuck it out till she retired, having tried to set PAI on the long, hard path of modernisation and reform.

This sad business was of its time. It is unlikely that the like could happen under Mr Orban.

All the same, a less inflamed transition at that critical time must remain one of the great what-ifs of the history of Conductive Education.

Zita was a humane, modern and worldly paediatrician dedicated to the humanisation of children's experience of hospital and to acknowledhing the central role of parents in their children's lives. She was charming, sparkly and energetic, with understanding of the world that extended beyond the health and well-being of children and beyond Hungary, and she did not suffer fools gladly.

What if, indeed...?

Partial professional biography


Partial bibliography


Article by Zita on Conductive Education (2007)



WHAT DIRECTION FOR THE PETŐ INSTITUTE?

Refections of its former Rector

Zita Makói retired from the Rectorship of the then Pető Institute in August 2007. She wrote the paper below in English almost immediately afterwards, and it was published in December of the same year. It reflected upon the wide programme of change that her experience suggested was required – giving thoughtful readers pause to consider what the situation had been to require such basic and wide-ranging changes.

The article was published in the twice-yearly journal RACE (Recent Advances in Conductive Education), vol. 6, no 3, pp. 36–39, 2007


Bridges

Zita S. Makói

ABSTRACT. Recently retired from Rectorship of the Pető Institute, the author reflects from her tenure there upon the links required to end the previous isolation of that institution. She expresses these as ‘bridges’: to the birth of the method, to scientific findings, to recent professional needs, to the needs of society, to the needs of conductors, to the mother institute, and to the future.

Keywords: Pető Institute, organisational development, conductors

No man is an island, entire of itself – John Donne

When, as individuals, institutions or organisations, we have reached a certain point of development we try to size up where we are, find the direction for going further, what we need to change and what we need to keep for our further growth. I have chosen the title ’Bridges’ in a symbolic way, as bridges create new connections, they create flow, they certainly create change and new dimensions. We need all these processes in Conductive Education in general and at the Pető Institute specifically. ̋

Bridge to the birth of the method

It is well known that the Pető-method is a synthesis of many fields of knowledge, such as pedagogy, medicine, psychology, sociology and some traditional oriental systems like yoga. It means that who learn and teach Conductive Education should have a mental store of such knowledge and those who practise it should draw upon all relevant databases for their professional growth and questions around ‘the legal protection of the method’ should be clarified. Besides the need to protect and maintain the standard and quality of the professional education and practice, the concept of knowledge-management has undergone significant change. In an ideal situation it should be pre-eminent to share the knowledge, to share it through education, support its flow and its renewal – instead of having the inclination and the practice to hold on to it and treat it as a secret. The Pető-method can no longer be protected as a ’know-how’, since its basic content has already been transmitted through education and training.

It should, however, be necessary to have a written manual, a ‘cook book’, that incorporates the original knowledge and adds information gained subsequently, adapts it to the recent needs of professionals who apply it and to the recent needs of families who are its users. This should include:

  • the conditions, the diagnoses for which the Pető-method can be useful;
  • basic elements of the system or method;
  • basic necessary space and equipment for the method;
  • the basic professional human-resource needs of the
  • method;
  • special vocabulary;
  • the boundaries for what can be called ’Conductive Education’.
Bridge to recent scientific findings

A vast amount of scientific discoveries have accumulated in recent years, that are close to the Peto-method and its subjects. For example, there is the importance of foetal life and the first years for later emotional development and for the functioning of the basic building elements of our personality. Then there are ever more studies of the functioning of the mind, and the appearances of new imaging techniques and electrophysiological measurements. We need to build these into Conductive Education and apply them in our own research.

The structure of research activity has changed as well. Instead of a culture of predominantly isolated PhD-holders at the Pető Institute, it would be necessary to create group activity, research should be a part of professional education, and it would also be necessary to develop the culture of international cooperation.

We have to be aware that today and in the future worthwhile scientific results must be regarded as a tool for accepting or refusing a method that is financed and supported by the public authorities.

The need for evidence-based research on Conductive Education has already emerged but, as well as its everyday profit, this also shapes the mentality of those who cultivate it. I mention here just a few such heuristic publications from different disciplines:
  • quality of experience before term may alter not only the brain function but also brain structure (Als, et al., 2004);
  • cerebral initiation of a spontaneous, freely voluntary act can begin unconsciously, that is before there is any (at least recallable) subjective awareness that a ‘decision’ to act has already been initiated cerebrally, which introduces certain constraints on the potential for conscious initiation and control of voluntary acts (Libet et al., 1983);
  • experience shapes human brain development and function, stimulating environments lead to enhanced brain growth, learning and intelligence (Neville, 2004);
  • importance of ‘evidence-based’ practice and outcome-determination in children with developmental disabilities (Neville and Limperopoulos, 2004).
Bridge to recent professional needs

We change the length of our skirts with relative ease, and our cars and other material belongings, but we seemingly have difficulty in pursuing the changes necessary in the invisible world. For example, our clients percieve good service in a different way from how they did thirty years ago and cooperation within the profession has a different meaning and different practice. Further, evaluation of the Pető method should be based on different rules from when the method was born, and the role of families, their words, their feelings about our everyday work has undergone immense change:
  • our service should answer to the recent needs of society
  • our clients – the children and adults – are the focus (a paradigm shift)
  • market-standing, profitability;
  • cost-efficiency;
  • proving the method’s efficiency (evidence-based scientific method);
  • undertake scientific research, international scientific research, about elements of the Peto-method which have not yet been studied;
  • active participation in the scientific forums of other professions, for example perinatology, early intervention, rehabilitation, occupational therapy, education for children with disabilities;
  • more publication of the results of Conductive Education in international journals;
  • application of a quality-assurance system in Conductive Education and teaching (there can so easily be a gulf between written policy and everyday practice, the ‘we have a big book about it’ syndrome);
  • dialogue about the application of the Pető-method in different cultures;
  • development of standards for Conductive Education (architecture, equipment, human resources, cooperation with different specialisms, professional standards for Conductive Education, personal competence).
Particularly, establishment of standards may then provide in turn for:
  • legal and professional protection of the Pető-system;
  • opportunity to include the results of recent scientific advances;
  • a platform of lifelong learning, for conductors and other specialists, promotion of cooperation between conductors, inside a given country and internationally;
  • promotion of cooperation with other specialists.
Bridge to the needs of the society

Families require different support from what they did thirty or forty years ago. It has become a skill, a skill which providers of Conductive Education should learn, to give proper information to the clients, part of this being information about the possible beneficial effect or limits of Conductive Education, or any other intervention. Fortunately, knowledge about the significance of emotions has gained ground. Thirty or forty years ago it was considered someone’s very private business to have feelings: these should be left at home. Now they are beginning to find a place in our work, and emotional intelligence is a must, especially in Conductive Education.

The social situation of families who need Conductive Education has changed as well, it has became harder for many of them to achieve paid access to Conductive Education – but it is even more problematic to look after a family member who is not self-dependent. The balance between a disabled child’s living within the family or being kept away for the sake of ‘proper education’ has shifted in favour of the family and to providing services on the spot. In these new circumstances we have to help families, our clients, including the children, to gain every kind of necessary information. Provision of a ‘proper’ conductive service must now include:
  • pursuing a family-centered approach in Conductive Education;
  • developing real communication with parents;
  • developing proper emotion-management, like handling
  • the dynamics of emotions between the client andthe conductor, between the family and the conductor,
  • between the family members and the child or client, and applying a high professional standard;
  • support establishment of a sustainable life-strategy for the children; promoting the children’s adaptation to the ‘external’ world, to the community outside the Pető Institute or other Conductive Education centres;
  • supporting organisation of routine daily medical care, for example appointments with the ophthalmologist;
  • providing access to accurate legal information about children with disabilities, instead of relying on a belief system;
  • promoting development of family-support groups.
Bridge to the needs of conductors

During the process of becoming a conductor, the mind is engaged first. With experience, it is hoped, the heart is involved as well. For most who have taken up Conductive Education, it has provided a lifetime of involvement. As a result of our changed world, conductors should:
  • pass through all of the changes in society that many other professionals and institutions has already beenthrough;
  • develop different emotional and mental attitudes;
  • enhance the process of their own personal development (find solutions instead of blaming the external world or someone else, being offended and resisting – rather than discovering choices, rather than insisting on their own opinion, and accepting different beliefs, thoughts and hypotheses);
  • take responsibility for their own physical, emotional, and mental well-being;
  • follow lifelong learning;
  • find a balance between giving and getting during everyday work;
  • recognise the destructive role of certain informal communications, like gossip;
  • develop positive thinking;
  • develop a business mentality;
  • learn the written culture of the recent past;
  • accept and to pursue the changed concept of management and directing;
  • develop an internationally acceptable scale of conductors’ competency;
  • find ways to ‘register’ the conductor profession in those countries where it has not happened yet;
  • the education system for conductors should support their ability to find a comfort zone working in a multi-professional service.
Bridge to the mother institute

The main building of the Pető Institute – to have which was only a dream in the life of Pető – is now under reconstruction and renovation. We have also, however, started renewal of the several hundred processes within the Institute that constitute the basis of its everyday services and work. Change of mentality and attitude within those walls is essential, this is the starting point for achieving growth and ‘sustainable’ development, to keep the Institute alive. Given such change, the Institute could serve as a creative and cooperative source:
  • building a professional network, creating a worldwide web of conductors based on transparent rules and pathways;
  • protecting and renewing the brand name and the quality behind this;
  • protecting the quality of the conductor diploma;
  • protecting the standard of the Pető system, playing a leading role in standardising basic processes, for which conductors have to learn new formal skills;
  • providing a platform for all kinds of professional discussion;
  • facilitating knowledge-sharing and transfer;
  • acting as a point of inspiration for research;
  • taking steps to contribute to international registration of the conductor profession;
  • renewing the ethical base for the conductors’ work (written, verbal and non-verbal);
  • dealing with the internal resistance that prevents the growth of Conductive Education, such as the attitude towards medical science and towards making the method’s results measurable through applying internationally accepted scales;
  • providing a good model for undergraduate and post-graduate education and, for the practice of Conductive Education, being a model of best practice.
As epigraph to this paper I used the well known line of John Donne. This offers us an open-ended message.

No man is an island, entire of itself
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.

There is an interconnectedness between all of those who have been members of the Conductive Education microcosm, either as clients, conductors or other professionals. The effects of whatever has happened within thePető Institute have been experienced all over the world, like the Butterfly Effect.

There are conductors who have left the Institute and have still kept their bad feelings, and there are conductors who are not welcomed in the Institute.

Those who practise Conductive Education may meet many words and actions that have changed their meaning, like its being more up-to-date now to practice ‘empowerment’ than ‘help’. Similarly the good practice of competition is about supporting each other’s development rather than entering into rivalry and, with a cooperative attitude, one should somehow find the appropriate balance

Emotional intelligence and getting and giving sufficient joy through the practice of Conductive Education is essential. Collective traumas have to be worked through and worked out, like the primordial trauma of Pető’s method not being accepted by the healthcare system, in order now to be able to ‘hang new paintings on the wall’. When you are over sixty years old, like Conductive Education, you have to coming out of the traumas of your childhood, accept that you are not a child any more, and have different abilities.

We must make a good impression upon those who have contact with Conductive Education and with the Pető Institute everywhere, by the best professional education, by the best practice, by excellent management, and by forgiveness.

References

Als, H., Duffy, F. H., McAnulty, G. B., Rivkin, M. J., Vajapeyam, S., Mulkern, R. M., Warfield, S., K, Huppi, P.S., Butler, S. C., Conneman, N., Fischer, C., Eichenwald, E. C., (2004) Early experience alters brain function and structure. Pediatrics, 113(4), pp. 846–857

Libet, B., Gleason, C. A., Wright, E. W., Pearl, D. K. (1983) Time of conscious intention to act in relation to onset of cerebral activity (Readiness-potential), Brain, 106(3), pp. 623–642

Neville, H. J. (2004) Human developmental plasticity. A paper presented at 12th annual conference, Dharamsala, India, Boulder, Co.: Mind and Life Institute. [online]

Majnemer, A., Limperopoulos, C. (2002) Importance of outcome determination in pediatric rehabilitation, Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 44(11), pp. 773–777

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

UPBRINGING: DO PEOPLE UNDERSTAND?

Ad hoc enquiry, with perhaps unexpected outcome

It has been suggested to me over the years that English-speaking people do not understand the concept of upbringing, and that to speak of a 'conductive upbringing' may serve merely to confuse.

Over the years I have offered homely examples, such as a 'Catholic upbringing', a musical upbringing, or 'bringing a child up for a career in the military'. Though such examples are recognised and acknowledged when I offer them, I have been left feeling unsure whether the very fact of having to give particular examples might sound like special pleading, and in fact confirm that the very idea of upbringing is indeed not part of English-speaking culture.

It is certainly the case that in the educational systems of the United Kingdom (its state systems anyway) and perhaps in those of other English-speaking countries, upbringing does not feature as a formal feature of practice, theory or organisation. (The private sector may be another matter, not just in what it does but in in why parents opt to buy out of state schools in the first place).

But how to sample public awareness and the use of the expression 'upbringing', and its presence in national consciousnesses in the English-speaking world – how to gain some sort of feeling of what upbringing is expected to achieve in determining the outcome of child development?

What the papers say

For what it is worth, look up “upbringing” in the UK edition of Google News to see how it features it appears in the English-speaking press. The result may be quite surprising:


I find it emboldening that upbringing appears as a frequent theme, and as ready explanation for adult personality and achievement around the English-speaking world. Perhaps people in Conductive Education will be emboldened too, and recount more often and boldly the vital role of konduktív nevelés (conductive upbringing) in achieving fundamental outcomes – as a contribution to a more realistic appreciation of what it takes to, well, bring up motor-disordered children to develop orthofunctionally.

Be assured, people probably do know what the word means, and appreciate what upbringing can achieve in everyday life all around them, they just need challenging to apply what they already know in what may to many people be experienced as an unfamiliar context.

Google News


Other news search services will presumably reflect the same reality.








Monday, 24 August 2015

THREE BLOG POSTINGS

And a small fistful of comments

Three recent blog postings on Conductive World, appearing between 12 and 21 August, all took a somewhat different bite of the multi- or trans-disciplinary cherry. Here are those postings (respective number of pageviews to date indicated in brackets):


Between them, though, these three postings excited no direct comments from readers of Conductive World. There is nothing unusual on this, indeed readers nowadays rarely comment directly on Conductive World, whatever the topic.

This is not the case on Conductive World's Facebook page where the routine notification of such postings often draws a word or two, critical and/or approving. So it has been here, though numbers of respondents have been low, perhaps because of the season of the year, perhaps because this may be a hard topic on which to speak out publicly:


On Facebook
All these together hardly justify the word 'viral' but, by the standards of the small world of Conductive Education this does suggest that the topic still has legs and can run, even in the middle of the summer holidays.

Generous approval

Taking just the third of these posts, Rony Schenker, who does not suffer fools gladly, commented simply 'Brilliant'. Thank you, Rony, but I claim no credit for the content of this item, I just assembled some widely known and long-established parables, and displayed them for others to use to shed light upon circumstances in our modern midst (or should that read 'mist'?). And Gábor Felner proposed on his own Facebook page –
I think everybody who is working on this field should read this. Not just the practitioners but those people who are managing a conductive programme without understanding it.
https://www.facebook.com/gabor.fellner/posts/10153220474578198?pnref=story
And from the world of Bobath Vardit Kindler commented approvingly on an empirical point also mentioned on this posting –
As one that wears the 'Bobath' hat, but not only, I totally agree with Werner Heisenberg that we all have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning. We all have along way to go.
https://www.facebook.com/conductive.world/posts/10207240529041780?comment_id=10207244657344985&offset=0&total_comments=2&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R%22%7D&pnref=story
Where's the controversy?

Such unanimity, surely not?

There are contrary positions to be argued. Perhaps they will be. Let us hope so.

Friday, 21 August 2015

A DUCK AND SOME ELEPHANTS

Multi- and transdisciplinary logic

This is the first and probably last allegorical duck to be introduced on Conductive World. It is not the first time, however, that I have led elephants into the ring to illustrate a point when discussing Conductive Education – some of these new ones are blind.

The duck test

Here is the 'duck test' as expressed in its modern (American) form –
If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck
In the specific context of Conductive Education:
  • if people understand motor disorder as a physical disability
  • if they assume that disability requires therapy
  • if they unquestioningly accept the historically defined roles developed by therapists
  • if nothing in their experience has helped them towards seeing and understanding motor disorders as being psycho-social, developmental, pedagogic, requiring the historically defined contributions of education, pedagogy, upbringing
...then think of applying some form of the elephant test.

The 'elephant test'

Everyone has surely heard this ancient, geographically distributed parable. Imagine blind men trying to describe an elephant –
In various versions of the tale, a group of blind men (or men in the dark) touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement.
The stories differ primarily in how the elephant's body parts are described, how violent the conflict becomes and how (or if) the conflict among the men and their perspectives is resolved.
In some versions, they stop talking, start listening and collaborate to 'see' the full elephant. When a sighted man walks by and sees the entire elephant all at once, the blind men also learn they are all blind. While one's subjective experience is true, it may not be the totality of truth. If the sighted man was deaf, he would not hear the elephant bellow.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant
This rather jolly Wikipedia article looks at some of the variants of the old tale, and some of the logic problems that they demonstrate, with charm and wit.

And Conductive Education...?

Thus primed I have tried to look at the historical transition from Conductive Education to multi- and trans-disciplinary practice in a logical way.

Imagine meeting an unfamiliar practice and becoming aware of immediately obvious features like wooden furniture, what seem like exercises accompanied by rhythmical speech, and beneficiaries working alongside each other ('a group'). There is no intelligible explanation to light up the darkness and reveal ev erything that is there: one is in the dark.

In such a situation one might be aware of no more than extraneous features, perhaps understood in terms of the already familiar, but this may be of little help in determining the essence. Then, if one wishes to re-create this practice,there is an immediate logical trap. In all good faith one may be tempted into believing that what has been perceived may indeed be to believe that what had been perceived are 'principles' of the whole, and that practice constructed on their basis, blended into existing practice, will create something that will do the same things as the original – be that original an elephant, or Conductive Education,

Belief, however strong and sincerely held, does not make things so but it needs deeper undertanding of what to do and how to act if it is to change the world,, Compare Mária Hári's love and intelligent love –
Love is not enough here. It must be intelligent love(Mária Hári, Standing up for Joe, 1986)
Consider too her interesting comment (highlighted below) at the Brussels conference in 1981 when addressing the same theme –
Conductive Education is much more that a method. The system of education is open to many methods, it is the structure, the organisation of the work, the 'conduction' in the teaching that are its principles – and its result, social integration, is its fundamental characteristic...
Her warning appears not to have been heeded. Perhaps a few ducks and elephants might have helped get her message through. But perhaps by then it was already too late.

Imagine a somewhat different situation, in which a new set of people, with similar defining characteristics as those who have fallen for the duck test, as defined by the duck test at the start of this posting, see a practice designed and implemented on the lines proposed above by the elephant test. The elephant that they perceive is not necessarily the original, but a simulacrum, lit up in part by an ever-growing range of articulated principles and all sorts of other explanations. It is now easier for them to go forth and re-create their own further practices.

Doing so they may find authoritative assurance that what they do is Conductive Education. Or 'working towards' it, or some such formulation. They may well then also accept that this is indeed so, and who can blame them? They have worked hard, with high hopes to achieve what they have. Elephants seem on the whole docile beasts, and no one has much of an appetite for requirement for public dispute.

Parthian shots

As a bonus consideration, look out towards the end of this Wikipedia entry for how men are described by blind elephants:


And remember, as it also reminds us, the observation of German physicist Werner Heisenberg
We have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.
That goes for all of us, in whatever context, and it is no disrespect to evoke it from time to time.

Two recent postings on this topic

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

WHAT MÁRIA HÁRI SAID

On multi- and trans-practices

A posting in Conductive World last week concerned multi- and trans-disciplinary practices provided in the name of Conductive Education:


This excited a little discussion of Facebook, not all of it on the central point of this topic but, as usually happens, this soon petered out:


Multi- and trans-disciplinary understandings of Conductive Education are an important topic, but a sensitive one that one no seems willing to take far in the public domain. Compromise seems the name of the game.

Excuse me...

I has not always been thus. Mária Hári offers the strongest reported public instance of tackling this matter head on. The year was 1981 and she was at a conference in Belgium billed as 'Study days on the Pető method'. Indeed she was the conference's 'President of Honor'. The morning of the first day was taken up with presentations on the Bobath method, French 'therapeutic education', the Vojta method and the neuropaediatric approach. Only following this would she be able to speak, knowing that the second day of the conference would then be devoted to 'various experiences of integrated education... influenced by the Pető method – from Poland, Japan, Holland, Belgium and England.'

I presume that, as President of Honour, she would have been seated in a prominent position in the hall, bemused and angry at what was being presented under the name of the system to which she had devoted her life, but impotent to do anything about it.

When the time came for her own prepared presentation she appears to have abandoned most of what she had originally intended to say, along with much of the film that she had brought to show. Instead she extemporised upon the fundamental point that Conductive Education is not a bundle of methods easily picked up on short courses – but an adaptive, dynamic, pedagogic system requiring extensive and careful professional training. The unknown scribe of the French transcription of what she said underlined certain passages, presumably to mark emphasis. Capitalisation, I guess, indicated VERY STRONG EMPHASIS INDEED.
I was surprised when I read Conductive Education emphasised in the programme... Excuse me for beginning this lecture by opposing myself to the title of the symposium 'The Pető method'. First, as one sees in the programme, other things will be spoken about; secondly, Conductive Education is much more that a method. The system of education is open to many methods, it is the structure, the organisation of the work, the 'conduction' in the teaching that are its principles – and its result, social integration, is its fundamental characteristic...

So you must understand that what is called Conductive Education or the Pető method at this symposium is certainly not it!


Conductive Education is as complex as education itself... the angle of attack is not the musculature, nor the reflex mechanism, nor some part of the nervous system that we know remarkably well but not well enough. The angle of attack is the personality, the morale...

CONCLUSION OF THIS SYMPOSIUM is that if one wishes to have the results that we have, it is necessary to learn conduction.

The above quotation has been excerpted from an earlier posting on Conductive World, published some three-and-a-half years ago. This relies in turn upon my own English translation of what Mária had said that day, published in the collection Mária Hári and her conductive pedagogy. The book's content suggests that the conference in Brussels provided a pivotal point in her relationship with those who, like Ester Cotton, seek to generate Conductive Education by bringing together the practice of existing staff in existing institutions, to implement the 'principles of Conductive Education'.

The brief formal report of the meeting was published in the journal Motricité Cerebrale. Remember, the event was called 'Study days on the Pető method', she was widely acknowledged as the living world leader in the field, and she was 'President of Honour' of this conference. The anonymously authored conference report made no mention of Mária's urgent message, or her proposal of what ought to be the event's 'only conclusion'.

References

(1981) Journées d’études sur la méthode Petö, Motricité cérébrale, Motricité Cerebrale, 1981/2, pp. 92-94)

Maguire, G., Sutton, A. (eds.) (2004) Mária Hári on Conductive Pedagogy, Birmingham, Foundation for Conductive Education (Chapter 2, Exasperation, 1981, pp. 65-72

Sutton, A, (2011) Háriana IV – speaking out, What is and what is not CE? 10 October 2011

Sutton, A. (2015) Transdisciplinary – what's that? Necessary or sufficient? Conductive World, 12 August

Coming up soon on this topic

What might ducks and elephants tell us of this?


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

TRANSDISCIPLINARY – WHAT'S THAT?

Necessary or sufficient?

As far as I know it was Ester Cotton who introduced the ideas of 'multidisciplinary' and 'transdisciplinary' into the discourse around Conductive Education outside Hungary. In the mid-sixties, she had visited András Pető and reported in the journal Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology how she saw his work. She derived what she advocated as 'the principles' of Conductive Education and urged putting them into practice through staff already working in existing centres or services that were open to trying her approach. She called this way of working multidisciplinary, adding later the goal of its evolving into trans-disciplinary working. (Later still the added complexity of 'interdisciplinary' also emerged.)

(These ideas resonated with the idea of 'a single nurse-teacher-therapist', then being explored as a possible response to concerns about the increasingly complex web of 'specialists' beginning to confront some parents, as post-War prosperity permitted a degree of expansion and elaboration of professional services.)

I never really understood how multi- or trans-disciplinary practice actually works at the point of sharing, nor do I know where their actual day-to-day mechanics have been described, nor their problems and possible solutions to them.

I was reminded of all this by something published yesterday by Peter Limbrick in the latest issue of TAC Interconnexions. Not speaking at all about Conductive Education, he makes a useful summary of what he understands by 'transdisciplinary'. Unsurprisingly, the term seems now to signify rather more than it did when Ester Cotton introduced it to Conductive Education in the latter part of the twentieth century –
...if members of a child's TAC (Team Around the Child) integrate their work to the fullest extent it becomes a transdisciplinary approach. So here is my definition of transdisciplinary teamwork as I see it now. I have added explanatory notes. Your comments are very welcome...
Transdisciplinary teamwork for infants who have a multifaceted condition represents the extreme of programme integration in which the close team of people (practitioners and parent) around the child (TAC) agree to deliver their interventions through one of them chosen as the primary interventionist (PI).
The child, parent and PI work together as a threesome on a whole-child programme designed to promote the child's enjoyment of life, general wellbeing, development and learning – and with consideration of the needs, situation and wellbeing of the family.
This work includes: exploring learning and development needs (assessment); creating a single integrated programme (planning); offering it to the child as a meaningful and enjoyable part of his or her normal everyday activity (intervention); regular checks on progress (review)...

I do not know the specific areas of practice with young children, not necessarily disabled children, for whom such arrangements are currently advocated. You can read more about Peter Limbrick's formulation of trans-disciplinary working by clicking on the link above. People involved in contemporary Conductive Education around the world may find much to applaud in this. They will also find some gaping holes should it come to understanding Conductive Education solely in such terms, not least the absence of pedagogical and conductive dimensions.

Pedagogy and conductive pedagogy might be regarded as disciplines. As for conductive pedagogy, this would first require articulation and codification if it were to be argued formally.

Personal uncertainties

A point that has confused me over the years is that the jobs involved in such discussion, such as the 'therapies', these are not really disciplines at all. They are professions, jobs, trades, crafts, callings, etc., such as physiotherapy, school-teaching, social work, child care. Each such draws upon its own range of formal knowledge, values, goals, experiences etc. to help perform its stated purpose, nowadays with recognised trainings and qualifications to boot. Some of their knowledge may come from scientific disciplines (e.g. phonetics or physiology) and all this may add up and combine to provide powerful bases for professional practice – but this does do not necessarily mean that they comprise disciplines.

One of the characteristics of a discipline is presumably that it has discernible boundaries. Some things fall within the boundaries of a given discipline, and some things do not. Astronomy cannot incorporate the tenets, methodologies etc. of astrology, for example, and it is distinct from meteorology (though psychoanalysis and behaviorism manage along with other apparent incompatibilities to coexist within psychology, presumably through willing suspension of principled belief). Nearer home, physiotherapists and schoolteachers are trained and socialised into their own professional universes, with their own skills and knowedge, values and goals etc. Are their complex, internalised mental constructions really so weak as to be sharable with people with different mental constructions, then to be combined with those of others, are they necessarily so compatible for this not to bring to bring conflict and confusion? A priori, if such 'disciplines' (trades etc.) are really so valid in the first place, is there not at the least the question to be raised that something may also be lost in the blending process?

With particular respect to conductive pedagogy, might not vital aspects be incompatible with perhaps vital aspects of the practice of contemporary therapy, school-teaching, nursing and caring? No doubt good will and human ingenuity might find ways through specific conflictual situations. They do, don't they? But more generally, is Conductive Education's 'intelligent love' really aligned to educational and paramedical care as a whole, or does it at times contradict the wisdom of what it does?

It is not enough to state, as I have heard many times over the years –

But, we're all in this for the children, aren't we?

Surely those who hear this, even some of those who who say it, most see how little this warm fuzzy stands up to even mildly critical examination.

A multidisciplinary or trans-disciplinary conductor?

The practice of conductors like that of other professionals draws upon all sorts of formal knowledge, values, goals, experiences etc. Central to their very being, however, lies the common, defining existential activity of being a conductor – conductive pedagogy. In that sense the service that conductors provide is uni-disciplinary.

Surprisingly perhaps, recent years have seen emergence of statements along the lines of 'conductors are a trans-disciplinary profession'. If only this were elaborated upon then one might know what it is meant to mean.

References

Cotton, E (1965) The Institute for Movement Therapy and School for ‘Conductors’, Budapest, Hungary, Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, vol.7, no 4, pp. 37-446

Limbrick, P. (2015) Transdisciplinary teamwork in early childhood intervention. What is it? TAC Interconnexions, 11 August