Saturday, 29 December 2007

Tel Aviv encounters

Conferences and conventions are places to meet people, people not seen for years and people altogether new. The very press of people, however, makes for little time to say all the things that you might have wanted. This is something to follow up later.

Tdass Kadima’s Twentieth Anniversary Conference was a particularly convivial and friendly ‘do’. Here are just some of my new encounters...

Franz Schaffhauser

Franz Schaffhauser, new Rector of the Pető Institute in Budapest came to my one-day pre-conference workshop, which provided us an early opportunity to seek each other out. There was little opportunity to take things further but he does seem a nice bloke and it will be a pleasure to do so when opportunity arises.

He was amused to hear that many conductors in the UK had been assuring me that he is a speech therapist – so I take the opportunity here to state again that he is a psychotherapist not a speech therapist: specifically, a logotherapist and not a logopaed. Ileave it to those who are still confused to look up the distinction on the Internet.

Ivan Su (Su Yuen Wang)

There were some very good formal presentations in Tel Aviv but Ivan‘s stood out as a tour de force. Ivan Su is Programme Coordinator for the Spastics Association of Hong Kong.

His presentation was remarkable in three ways:

- the sheer scale of service-development for children and their families in Hong Kong (thirty- eight cntres so far fora population of under eight-million);

- the force and energy with which he drove this home to his audience in the fifteen minutes available to him; and

- the extraordinarily high quality of the the overhead graphics that integrated his complex material with his punchy verbal account.

Ah, but is this ‘Conductive Education’? Not as we know it, Jim, but it sure is something and the old ways of doing things in Conductive Education are going to have to get their acts together because it is not going away.

Ivan and I know we have differences. In common, however, we found a wish to discove practical ways of exploring these differences and to identify what lies beneath. I do hope that we can continue this dialogue.

Peter Rosenbaum

Why aren’t all paediatricians like this? True, as he says himself, the ideas that he expresses, humane, critical of existing approaches, family-oriented, are common enough in paediatric circles – but relatively few of the professionals who announce such views permit the implications disturb what they actually do, and their practice honours them chiefly in the breech.

Given his status in the world of paediatrics, those struggling to ‘sell’ conductive Education to some of the less enlightened of his colleagues, and to contrary paediatric therapists, would do well to arm themselves with his friendly, open-minded but critical approach to paediatric practice as a whole.

Thorsten Gegenwarth

Thorsten Gegenwarth is Assistant der Geschäftsfüerin at Institut Keil and therefore well placed at the heart of the already divisive fault line in Conductive Education that originated in the German-speaking lands and now threatens mahem elsewhere, the question of the ‘European conductors’.

Thorsten is a real internationalist, with a background that includes history, philosophy and business. His take of the issues involved is from the standpoint of a new generation and his presence will make critical discussion across the divide all that more possible.

And anyway, he is married to Alex, who began training as a conductor at NICE then transferred perforce to complete her professional training as a PTK, uniquely embodying personal experience of these two practices. She too was at the conference in Tel Aviv, where their two delightful little children patiently put up with the whole boring adult thing!

Reuven Feuerstein

None of us are getting any younger – and Reuven Feuerstein has a start on most of us. But the old fires burn strongly and, though it has been a few years now since we last met our conversation could continue as it were uninterrupted.

He is keenly aware of the congruence between Conductive Education and mediated learning and would love to take further a long-held wish to see the two processes intertwine. Tsad Kadima is ideally positioned amongst Conductive Education organisations to continue and develop this dialogue in a practical manner in ways not open to myself, and I sincerely hope that Israeli conductivists will find ways of doing so.

All in all a very mixed bunch, but having in common that they open-minded, seeking new solutions rather than to labour old points – boding well for Conductive Education in 2008.

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