Tuesday, 29 November 2016

ACADEMIC SCHOLARSHIP

For former CE pupil

Today the Doctoral School of Education Studies and the Pedagogic Faculty of the Karóly Esterházy University, in Eger, Hungary, announced the award of two scholarships. One of these scholarships goes to Adrienn Oravecz, former PAI-pupil.

Adrienn's PhD studies will now be financed through the University.

The scholarship was awarded according to strict criteria, on the basis of her first year's investigation into CE.


This is a notable achievement by any measure. If you will be at WC9 in Budapest in a couple of weeks' time, and would like to look out for her to offer personal congratulations, she will be making a formal presentation on the Monday afternoon:

'Adaptation forms of Conductive Education in the world'

ADULTS' VOICES – 2

Three bloggers

A couple of weeks ago I remarked upon how the world of Conductive Education does seem to ignore the views of young adults for whom conductive pedagogy and upbringing have been an integral part of childhood:


What, I was wondering, do they think about it all, about how their parents strove and what for, about the philosophy and its processes felt like to children at the receiving end as children, and – without wishing to express this in pejorative terms – I wonder about how they have felt about how they themselves were used along the way.

Quite coincidentally I think, yesterday Ralph Strzałkowski blogged some observations that feed into my concerns over this and, albeit from a parents' standpoint, so too the day before did Norman Perrin. Synchronicity?

Ralph

Ralph attended the then Pető Institute as a child. Today he is a lawyer and disability-activist in Florida. A few years ago he published collated reminiscences of his life as a child with cerebral palsy, and of the Peto Institute.

Yesterday, in response to yet another media splurge about Donald Trump's family, Ralph blogged –

...as someone who grew up with cerebral palsy, a pretty visible condition, with very loving parents who were also determined advocates. My Mom and Dad always identified with my well-being and my perspective. But my perspective and theirs was not exactly the same. I know it's very easy to confuse when you are so intertwined with someone, it feels like you may be one but you are not. The choices that they made for me were not always my choices, and the consequences they have accepted on my behalf where not always the choices I would have...

...it's easy to gang up on a ten year old boy, who may or may not have something none of us is entitled to know about.


Norman

Norman Perrin is father of a disabled young adult. He fought the good fight to established a conductive school in his city. Now he struggles for the right to a decent life and decent values in services for disabled adults. He too blogs. On Saturday, in response to a Government white paper (Work, Health and Disability: Improving Lives) Norman wrote –

its focus on ('obsession with' one might say) work as a determinant of health and more than that a definition of 'work' as a 'waged employee'. This tendency is evident throughout the White Paper. It’s all about 'finding employment', 'getting a job'... Deep down, it seems, both Right and Left, equate work with being an employee. This is such a narrow understanding of 'work' and what it is about 'work' that is conducive to good health and, perhaps, 'wellbeing'...

Now let us return to orthofunction and conductive education. There are children approaching adulthood for whom 'work-as-employment', as the goal of public policy, has little – nothing – to offer. What of these young people? How can they be included as citizens when all that public policy has to offer is not for them? Let's redefine what we mean by work, employment, occupation so that everyone can be citizens.

Then, perhaps, we can usefully and radically be discussing orthofunction in adults and lifespan conductive education.
Me
Am I stretching it in feeling that these two blog postings from Ralph and Norman are expressing aspects of the same social problem, a society that has little real idea of how it thinks of children with developmental disabilities, what it really wants for their future lives, certainly without intention of wishing to understand their own views of what is going on, either now or when they look back on it all as adults? 
Such a sweeping questions are so easy to utter. It is so easy easy to direct them to all sorts of social systems. But it is not so easy to ask where Conductive Education stands in all this.

Looking back over my own professional life I can see all sorts of questionable or even reprehensible activities that I was involved in before I come into Conductive Education. OK, I can say, but I I fight back when I twigged what I had become part of, and I did not try to hang on to a career within the state and professional systems, to become part of the problem. I got out. Out of morally and intellectually compromised psychology and special education, out of the public service  and into Conductive Education.
But looking back on what came next, I wonder how this might look to those who had been most focally affected by my activity. And what I might look like at the bar of my fellow citizens whose childhoods may have been affected by my concerned intervention on behalf of Conductive Education.
Am I alone in being concerned in this way? To use an awkward modern term, of which I do not wholly approve, what do the 'survivors' think? I think we should be told.

Conductive Education nowadays, unlike its Founder, seems to like things cosy and consensual. This, however, might not prove wholly comfortable...


Sunday, 27 November 2016

FIDEL CASTRO (1926 – 2016)

Cuba, si!

Cuba was about the most contradictory society that I ever saw, And yes, I have seen Hungary.


As for Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong (or perhaps Zhou Enlai) put it well, allegedly –

It is to early to tell


Friday, 25 November 2016

ONE HOPE LESS

A casualty of 2016

Information about the closure of Norwood Hope
Norwood Hope provided specialist educational support for children and young people aged 3–19. Following an in-depth review of our children’s, education and adult services (completed June 2016), we have decided to reshape some of our services to ensure that they are fit for the future. At the end of the 2016 Summer Term, Norwood Hope will be closing.
Norwood Hope was the major UK charitable agency concerned with the practice and training of Reuven's instrumental enrichment, part of a much larger Jewish charity called Norwood:


I did once have a bit of contact with Binoh in the eighties and nineties, and with psychologist and Feuerstein-trainer Ruth Deutsch who ran it. It was apparent that our two systems of thinking shared important features and that correspondingly our two organisations faced analogous problems. Over the years, however, I lost touch with her and the Hope Centre, and I have no idea what micro-economic and micro-political specifics may have played out to end things there. The ever-tighter financial constraint on charitable activities in the UK, however, of which the fate of Hope has provided just one example, is of course widely experienced:

Hope was part of a wider charitable organisation, Norwood. Following one of those consultations this summer, execution was swift –

Norwood Hope will close, and Binoh will enhance its offering with a wider menu of support for inclusion

Norwood will continue working with children with disabilities and educational problems, providing a wide range of services.

These services do not include Hope's earlier focus on Reuven Feuerstein's cognitive enrichment and the courses for teachers and others on cognitive modifiability and dynamic assessment.

From a Special Report in the Jewish Chronicle

...Hope used the pioneering methodology of clinical, developmental and cognitive psychologist Professor Reuven Feuerstein. It was 'a highly specialised service and extremely expensive. We cannot sustain it, 'Ms Kerr [its Chief Executive] says. 'Much less than 10 per cent of children who use our educational services went to Hope.'

She would like its other educational service, Binoh, used by 800 children, to incorporate some of the Feuerstein method into its teaching. If children from Hope are unable to transfer to Binoh, 'we'll work with the families to find alternative provision.'

Sustaining particular organisational focus as time goes by is hardly a novel problem, but how best to understand and resolve acute contradictions that arise in times of economic stress?

And what about Conductive Education?

Footnote

This month Norwood raised £2.75m at its Annual Dinner:




Wednesday, 23 November 2016

CONGRESS MOVED

WC9 too large for PAF

From the website of the 9th World CE Congress –


ATTENTION!
Due to the great number of participants the congress venue for Monday, 12 December and Tuesday, 13 December has been changed to the LURDY CONFERENCE AND EVENT CENTER, Könyves Kálmán krt. 12-14, 1097 Budapest.


Note that this affects only two days of the Congress programme. Arrangements otherwise appear unaltered.

http://www.peto.hu/wcce2016/en/


Tuesday, 22 November 2016

TRAINS AND PLANES

András Pető and Mária Hári
Another unsubstantiated little vignette

Yesterday, Conductive World's Facebook page quoted from a 2012 newspaper review published in the Budapest Times, of the book András Pető:


This review was written by Bob Dent, a very long-established British ex-pat resident in Budapest, with a wide-ranging knowledge and understanding of things Hungarian going back into the former times. He wrote –

Paradox seems to surround Pető. His unorthodox approach was launched and took off during Hungary’s most hard-line Stalinist period, in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Did he have connections or even sympathy with the ruling party? After all, it was a period when orthodoxies ruled, so it’s odd that a man such as András Pető, who appears to have been attracted more by Buddhism than Marxism, was tolerated and even assisted by some of the people in power. Or was it 'simply' that some of them had been successfully treated by him? (Bob Dent)


Speculation of course, but informed speculation.

The only major political figure of that era whom I have seen documented as in direct connection with András Pető was the late Béla Biszku:


Treatment of his ischialgia (hip pain) developed into something more social, including an interest in András Pető's ideas and the problems of his Institute. This may have played a decisive role in the Institute's transfer from Health to Education (and thence the creation of the trained-conductor profession).

Speculation again, but with the benefit of just a little documentation:
  • a couple of mentions in Véra Sárkony's interview with Karóly and Magda Ákos, republished in the book András Pető
  • Judit Forrai's fascinating interview with Béla Biszku in her history of conductive pedagogy.
So where do the trains come in?

In late 1984, when Mária Hári was helping me to find my first feet in Hungary, I asked something that I rather doubt she had ever been asked before, or was ever asked by anyone again – whether she know anyone interested in model railways. She had absolutely no idea what I was talking about and she found it highly amusing to have it explained to her. She said that she would ask.

A few days later she greeted me excitedly. 'Rákosi.' she said. 'Not the Mátyás, the son, 'He likes such small trains. Do you want to meet him?'

Mátyás Rákosi had been General Secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party from 1945 to 1956, including the time the time that Bob Dent delicately describes as 'Hungary’s most hard-line Stalinist period'. He had died in 1971, but only thirteen years later his shadow lingered.

I regret to this day that I chickened out. I was very new to Hungary and being very cautious on just my second visit, about what I did, whom I met, where I went. Perhaps I was being silly, but I declined. Silly or sensible, I do not know.

But I did ask Mária how she knew the son of Mátyás Rákosi.

'Pető knew his father. He treated his knee.'

Make of any of that what you will.

References

Dent, B. (2012) Enigmatic ‘miracle man’ helped the ‘incurable’, Budapest Times, 12 November

Maguire, G., Sutton, A. (eds) (2012) András Pető, Birmingham, CEP (Véra Sárkony's interview with the Ákoses: pp. 83-95)

Forrai, J. (1999) Memoirs of the beginnings of conductive pedagogy and András Pető, Budapest, Új Aranyhíd/Birmingham Foundation for Conductive Education (Judit Forrai's interview with Béla Biszku: pp. 125-30)

Sutton, A. (2012) András Pető's patient and supporter arrested. Béla Biszku, a link with the past, Conductive World, 11 September

Friday, 18 November 2016

WORLD CONGRESSES

Online legacies in the Internet Age

A year ago Conductive World remarked upon the the visible 'archaeology' of the 8th CE World Congress (held in Germany in 2014).


Its own former URL is now a blocked site:


The two sites mentioned on the posting of 2014 remain accessible on line. You can still find that Congress's programme and its abstracts, and – if you like that sort of thing – the song performed at WC8:


On Facebook

The 8th Congress's Facebook page has faded away over 2016. Its 'Young Faces' page has done a little better, but not much:


Online legacies

WC7 in Hong Kong, left a substantial online trace, presumably because it was arranged by a single, permanent organisation SAHK This could both do this and regarded doing so as a responsible and socially useful task:


A permanent record for WC8 was perhaps not possible because the event was arranged by a consortium of German organisations brought together specifically for this task. Congress over – job done.

Next month's Congress is being organised by a single permanent organisation. What visible legacy legacy might it leave?

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

YOUNG ADULTS' VOICES – 1*

Hear them

There are so many unstated and unresolved questions in Conductive Education.

Just one of these: the present activities and wishes of young adults whose lives have been touched by Conductive Education during their childhood, and their critical opinions of it all and what might be done differently.

Yesterday, Facebook's 'On this day' reminded me of three earlier sightings:
Diána Groó's Hungarian video from 2013 (still on YouTube)http://www.conductive-world.info/2013/11/road-to-life.html
Ralph Strzalkowali's blog posting, also from 2013, about own his critical memoir (still available)http://blog.lawyeronwheels.org/2013/11/oh-my-lord-ive-written-book.html
Sare Jarm's Australian newsreel report the year before (also still on YouTube)http://www.conductive-world.info/2010/11/australian-archive-video.html

This diverse and articulate bunch spotted by chance in just one day!

I must resist extending this into a longer and longer list... Susanne Sweeney, George McDowell, Adrienn Oravecz, Holly Edgecombe, are names that jump straight to my mind. A little further reflection, however, a quick Internet trawl, a few conversations, would identify a lot more from an unheard army out there, in Hungary, Germany, Israel, the English-speaking world...

No, I must stop. It is for others to take this further, should they wish...

The 'German Congress' (WC8 in 2014) aimed to incorporate 'young people' but I do know what if anything came of it. Perhaps next month's 'Hungarian Congress' will build on this experience, and on other lessons from previous World Congresses. Perhaps.

But whatever young adults might wish, it is unlikely to be for change that is top-down, from congresses and the like, from older people's activities alien to their worlds.

Conductive Education worldwide could desperately do with emergence of a new force from within. If young adults who know Conductive Education from the inside (yes, there is a sort of pun there) are not potentially such a force, then what is?

_____

*   Part 2 is to be found at:
     http://www.conductive-world.info/2016/11/adults-voices-2.html







Tuesday, 15 November 2016

CONDUCTOR'S PhD

Two-year embargo lifted

Tünde Rózsahegyi was awarded her PhD two years ago:


The complete text of her thesis is now published on line, open-access and free of charge:


References

Rózsahegyi, T. (2014), A bio-ecological case-study investigation into outlooks on the development and learning of young children with cerebral palsy, PhD Thesis, University of Warwick, Centre for Education Studies 


MEMORY LANE

In memoriam Dave Ching

Conductive Education Canterbury reports from New Zealand –
We are so delighted that we have been able to honor our past National Coordinator and Champion of Conductive Education – the late Dave Ching. The Christchurch City Council agreed and installed new signage to 'Dave Ching Lane' today. We had a vision to ensure Dave's legacy was acknowledged and remembered and see this a very fitting way to do this. Thanks Christchurch City Council for helping us turn this vision into reality.

https://www.facebook.com/ConductiveEducationCanterbury/photos/a.1444842585775319.1073741828.1444801315779446/1764593833800191/?type=3&theater

A little more...