Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Workshop in Rishon LeZion

Workshop: 'Define to defend'

The pre-conference workshop was held the day before the conference as such began, in the small town of Rishon LeZion where Tsad Kadima has its major presence. The venue was situated in a pleasant suburb, a purpose-built study centre that Tsad Kadima often uses, its compact, tiered lecture hall giving a most direct contact between my audience and myself.

For ‘audience’ it had to be, owing to the amount of material to be got through, the fact that there were more than fifty people facing me and my unfortunate personal tendency to talk rather than to participate.

Each participant on arrival was presented with seven pages of lecture notes to cover the content of the day. I will publish these in full in the near future on my new Information website (for further details, watch this blog).

These notes followed a format developed for lecturing to student-conductors at NICE, in which context they have served two purposed: as an aide memoire for my listeners and a guide to myself (to help me stick to the point and to judge how the time is going). Here the notes had two additional purposes: to help structure the understandings of those many in the audience for whom English is not their first language – and to give succour to the two simultaneous translators in their booth.

There were no other aids, except what I could aim to conjure in my listener’s heads.

In the event most there seemed to have a more than adequate grasp of English and the lively multigenerational audience was a pleasure to work. Participants included parents going right back to the very first days of Tsad Kadima, conductors, associated professionals and student-conductors, along Franz Schaffhauser and Juli Horváth from the Pető Institute and a couple of home supporters from back in England.

I think that members of all these groups signalled very clearly where they recognised common concerns and were reassuring that the material presented was to their taste.

The day’s final session was opportunity for participants to comment, question and challenge, which they certainly did. I was flagging a little by then and did not note down everything that was said but two contributions in particular stuck in my mind.

First, I was asked what I thought were behind the relative success of Tsad Kadima in Israel in establishing the basis for a conductive upbringing service. I could think immediately of a couple. I referred to the video that Tsad Kadima had produced years ago, recording its first summer school on Israel. I show this to student-conductor in Birmingham, I told my audience, as one of several such videos of Conductive Education programmes around the world, to show how CE is differently manifest in different societies. And it is very obvious in that context, that a particular factor in that one video, in contrast to all the others, is what could be described at schmaltz (tellingly, there is no English word for this). Secondly, there is what I call the ‘small-country effect’, the product of compact geography and demography, the latter involving not just social cohesion but also the effects of everybody’s being apparently related to someone of significance! Both these answers seemed to ring a bell with the audience and I was asked whether the successful Israeli path to Conductive Education could somehow be ‘bottled’ and exported elsewhere. Of course, on the basis of my analysis, they could not: other societies will have to seek their own ways, based on their own strengths, constraint and opportunities.

(Upon later reflection another explanation for Tsad Kadima’s success was manifest there in the audience. This is an advantage not founded in the wider Israeli society but growing out of Tsad Kadima itself, out of the very experience of success. There in the audience I had together in the same room people who we both service-users and service-providers, some recent entrants to the system, some who had been in it since Day 1, participating in a system where, whatever its day-to-day frustrations, is palpably going somewhere. Most of al, it must surely have begun o generate its own institutional culture. Together this broadly based continuity must surely offer untold advantages. I wish that I had thought of this possible factor at the time. I would have loved to hear them talk about it.)

Secondly, I was challenged by Rony Schenker, to say whether I thought it would now be better, in view of all the uncertainties surrounding the definition and boundaries of Conductive Education, to change its name. A good question, one that I have been asked before and one to which I had no satisfactory answer on the spot. Since the conference Rony sent me a recently published article which, I suspect, may have triggered her question. It is not on Conductive Education at all – but on Bobath. It has sent me down a train of thought along which perhaps I begin to see an answer to that question emerge. I shall share the gist of this article, along with my own thoughts on it, in a forthcoming posting on this blog.

A hard few hours’ performing but, for me at least, a rewarding and pleasurable process. Why on Earth had I been apprehensive?

No comments:

Post a Comment