Monday, 14 April 2008

Communication problems...

...and one possible solution

When I woke up on Saturday morning, Google was waiting ready to present me with two new Conductive Education postings on the blogosphere. The two communications were very different from each other. One was written by a conductor, describing pedagogic/upbringing work with a young man whom she has known for years, the other by a mother of a cerbrally palsied twins, at the very start of the her career as the parent of a disabled child. The former seems at her conductive prime, the latter does not yet know enough to feel secure in choosing the conductive way. Both care, both communicate, neither knows the other and thousands of miles lie between them.

Together these two coincidental postings represent a terrible information gap that works to the detriment both of Conductive Education and to those who would potentially benefit from getting it.

The conductor

The conductor is Susie Mallet in Germany and Google was alerting me to a new and extensive posting on her English-language blog. I will not attempt to summarise it here except to say that it is part of the developing body of her communications that, to my knowledge, comprises something altogether new in Conductive Education, a conductor honestly and critically reporting what she does.

Read it and judge for yourself:

The mother

Billie Wright-Ericson describes herself as a ’31-year old chick’, She is also a school psychologist and her twin daughters aged three and a half have cerebral palsy. Her blog is a lively commentary on her family’s life – and in her latest posting Conductive Education emerges as a choice. Her posting, with the wondefully hope-filled title of ‘The possibilities are endless’ follows a busy day for daughter Eden. It opens like this:.

This morning we had our first meeting with the multidisciplinary clinic at the Programme Program for Exceptional Families in our area. Eden's physical medicine doctor oversees this program, and we decided to give it a go. The appointment lasted for over three hours, as we rotated through five teams of specialists, including the doctor, nurse, PT, OT, speech therapist, orthotist, equipment supplier, and social worker. There are usually a neuropsychologist and a nutritionist there as well, but they were out today.

No comment needed here, I think. The ‘team’ listened carefully and will soon send the family send a treatment plan to cover the next six months. You can see and judge all this for yourself too:

But, adds Billie…

We are also going to look into hippotherapy (therapy on horses), swim classes, and Euro-Peds or Conductive Education this summer. The E-P or CE will depend on whether we can manage, without significant disruption to our overall happiness and emotional well-being, to fit it into our schedule. It is all a delicate balance.

Meanwhile, the posting continues, ‘we have a boatload of new equipment’ (one of the lively comments to to this posting calls Eden ‘Gadget Girl’).

Did you catch Conductive Education in there? Judge its status for yourself. Don’t blame this determined, concerned and intelligent mother, look at the information and models available to her in 2008.

Coincidentally, the self-same morning Google alerted me to a third blog posting, one that offers something towards a potential solution to the problem that I discern here.

Bringing them together

The Internet is so clogged with useless junk about Conductive Education that anybody who tries to rely upon a simple search (or even many advanced ones) will end up as much misinformed or deceived as enlightened. This is hardly a problem unique to Conductive Education but we do have a particular problem that is no junk-filtering mechanism through which information can be subject to criticism, where people can question, answer, disagree and demand justification for what is said. Would-be users like Billie are entirely on their own.

There is no panacea here, no magic bullet to solve the junk problem in communicating Conductive Education. Forums go only part of the way but in recent years anyway seem little taken up. Blogs look to have considerable potential, and may be potential users would be fascinated by Susie Mallett’s – but how in the normal run of things will they find it? And how can they judge the worth of such material unless it forms part of a growing body of description, comment and criticism from both fellow conductors and users of Conductive Education services?

The Conductive Education Web

One way to bring conductors and users together on the Internet was proposed to me in my third alert that morning, by linking them conveniently together through a sort of one-stop shop that shows any visitor something of what is is being discussed in the field of the Conductive Education in Cyberspace. Earlier last week Norman Perrin announced that he has just used Pageflakes technology to open such a site. Already it presents information on seven active Conductive Education blogs, in English, Portuguese and French.

Now, my third alert on Saturday told me, he is opening up a second front, with a listing of Conductive Education forums. Let us hope that this venture will breathe new life into the forum sector.

You can find Norman’s own explanations of these at:

The Conductive Education Web itself can be found at:

Norman is one of the longer-established conductive parents in the English-speaking world and the inability of those outside Conductive Education to grasp its essence has been a long-standing bête noire of his.

Starting a pedagogic literature

Communicating the nature of conductive pedagogy and upbringing to the world has been a problem that the existing institutions in Conductive Education appear unable to resolve. I suspect that there exists a substantial population of would-be users out there who would avidly consume appropriate material, concrete but with some theoretical justification, if only they could find it.

But can conductors deliver the goods on this? So far as a profession they have not as a whole been forthcoming in bringing their personal practice to public understanding, even for fellow conductors – never mind for clients and potential clients, other professionals and academics/researchers. Without a ‘pedagogic literature’, who can then blame ‘outsiders’ if they then so often get the whole process hopelessly wrong?

There may be conductors who do not subscribe to the substance, tone or presentation of Susie Mallett’s blog. Fair enough, it’s a free world (some of it, anyway) and they are free to do what they like about it. One thing that they could do is join in, blog for themselves. They might copy her content, style and presentation – or go for something completely different to suit their own substance, tone or presentation. It may be a bit optimistic here to echo Mao’s ‘Let a thousand flowers bloom’ slogan but I think that it’s clear what I mean. It’s so easy to do, and it’s free.

Will it ‘work’ and if so what ways will work best? Who knows – but the conductive answer is to try it, observe the effect, then modify what you are doing on the basis of the experience… does this sound familiar?

Parents, researchers and academics, other conductors, friends of Conductive Education and those whom Mária Hári used to call ‘the enemy’ (you know who you are!) – it is not as though there is no audience out there! Maybe Norman Perrin’s nets might help catch some of it.


Susie Mallett, Plinths or parties, wall bars or hills and dales? Conductor, 11 April 2008

Billie Wright-Ericson, The possibilities are endless, Micro Preemie Twins: the story of Holland and Eden, 10 April 2008

Conductive Education Web


This is not to imply that communicating the nature of Conductive Education is the job of conductors alone. Perhaps the communication and explication of Conductive Education is too important to be left to conductors or to any other single special-interest group within the conductive movement as a whole, but more of that some other time. Certainly, however, within the grand scheme of things, conductors have a vital part to play in this repect, and we are all the poorer for their not doing so.

1 comment:

  1. Andrew.
    I opened up 'The Conductive Web' so that you too could be an Editor, able to make additions the same as myself. I'd be pleased if you would find a moment to give it a try and let's see what happens.
    I'd very much like to involve a selct group of Editors able to manage the collection of links.