Thursday, 21 February 2008

Standing up for Mum

Conductive upbringing creates active citizens

George McDowell first attended the then State Institute in Budapest back in 1972. Since then his mother Emma has been a vocal advocate for the establishment of Conductive Education in the United Kingdom. Though this has proved impossible to achieve satisfactorily locally where she lives, in Belfast, she has devoted much energy to creating the circumstances for a conductive upbringing for George within the family. Now it is George’s turn to stand up for his mother's needs and rights.

George has just recently given an interview on BBC TV’s The Politics Show in a feature on the campaign to establish parents’ right to continue receiving the carer’s allowance once eligible for the retirement pension. As things currently stand, one cannot be in receipt of the two state benefits simultaneously. The matter is now the subject of a Private Member's Bill, tabled by Assembly Member David McNarry in the the Northern Ireland Assembly. Emma, who has also taken a leading political role in the carers’ movement in Northern Ireland now falls into this benefits trap and it is the turn of George, who has always been politically inclined himself, to take a leading role.

George has followed up with a radio interview from Stormont (seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly) for BBC Radio Ulster’s Evening Extra news programme. If you’re quick you might be able to catch this on the BBC’s ‘Listen Again’ facility. It’s the last item on the programme.

Other countries, I believe, also display this iniquitous meanness towards aging families with responsibility for disabled children now adults. I gather that Germany does, for example. Looks like a possible case for Europe-wide action. We may well hear more of George, conductive beneficiary and now political activist. Others too, I hope.

A found generation

Around the world many societies have failed to respond to the ‘discovery’ of Conductive Education – and often actively resisted it. In many countries, therefore, there has been a lost generation of children and families who might have benefited from Conductive Education, but didn’t.

One country that has permitted the institution of Conductive Education to flower is Israel, with the result that a growing proportion of young people and their families achieve conductive upbringings, and the fruits of this are now apparent in early adulthood. Elsewhere, conductive upbringings have had to be achieved solely through the dedication and sacrifice of families living their conductive life and working alone with such ad hoc conductive back-up as they can arrange.

In Hungary, of course, there must be a considerable back-log of people of a wide age-range with conductive upbringings and now conductive adulthoods.This, like so many things in Conductive Education, has been barely reported – a great pity as the world cries out for documentation of Conductive Education’s benefits.

A start will soon be made towards filling this gap with Tsad Kadima's publication of a book made up of the personal accounts of a ‘found generation’ of young people who have been brought up conductively, mainly in conjunction with its own services.

This means childhoods, families’ lives, future prospects, all found, discovered, created and transformed, not simply through access to conductive ‘programs’, or even by attendance at conductive schools, but by long-term conductive upbringing.

Meanwhile in Northern Ireland…

Meanwhile, as reported in my previous posting (‘Long time no see’, 19 February 2008), the Order Paper for the Northern Ireland Assembly for 18 February announced a motion proposed by five Assembly Members:

Proposed: That this Assembly supports conductive education and commends the Buddy Bear School, Dungannon, to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister and the Minister of Education for financial support and assistance.

[Mr D Bradley, Mr B McCrea, Mr T Lunn, Mr G Savage, Mr F Molloy]

Notes and references

Emma McDowell has published a number of accounts of her life as a conductive upbringer, and later as a carer-activist, for example the two-episode article, ‘Standing up for George’ (from which I drew for the title of this posting) in the now long defunct newsletter The Conductor.

McDowell, E. (1988 ) Standing up for George, The Conductor, No 1, April, pp. 14-15

McDowell, E. ( 1988) Standing up for George, The Conductor, no. 2, July, pp. 30-32

Summary of item on BBC TV’s The Politics Show: ‘Who cares for carers?

‘Listen Again’ to Radio Ulster News

Buddy Bear: motion before Northern Ireland Assembly

Previous posting on Buddy Bear ('Long time no see', 19 February 2005)

Previous posting on Shay Allilis ('Some CE inspiration', 26 December 2007), member of that found generation

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