Thursday, 1 May 2008

Viva a revoluçaõ condutiva!

May Day greetings to all who struggle for Conductive Education

Stirring words

There’s not too much experience of revolution in the English-speaking world, and the English language is not generally good on stirring revolutionary slogans.

Such things do tend to sound rather better in other languages. Perhaps it’s just unfamiliarity and unwarranted associations that lend romance, but stirring stuff does rather seem to roll more easily off foreign tongues.

Look at the recent blog posting from Leticia Búrigo from Brazil, in which she proclaims:

Liberdade, naturalidade, espontaneidade…

Wow! Stirring stuff. Like many revolutionary slogans it might not be too clear what precisely it means in practice but what a clarion call for conductivists everywhere.

Iconic images

Correspondingly, the English-speaking world hasn’t much of a tradition of revolutionary visual icons either.

Biró Mihály’s big red Hammer Man was incorporated into various designs for the Hungarian workers’ movement, from the years before the Great War up till the ill-starred Hungarian ‘Republic of Councils’ (Soviet Republic) of 1919. (The former revolutionary graphic artist Mihály Biró, then spent much of his subsequent life drawing advertising posters in the United States, returning to Hungary only in 1947, the year before he died.) The Hammer Man also featured in a famous poster for 1 May 1919, Red May.

And at the head of this page shows how years later, and in a very different world, the big red Hammer Man was incorporate into the cover page of an issue of The Conductor, published in Birmingham, England, in 1995, a time that Conductive Education could still stir national passions in the United Kingdom, attracting at the same time both widespread enthusiasm and vigorous opposition.

Conductivists then still saw the introduction of Conductive Education as beginning a new world order, nationally and internationally. They has been riding high on a wave of public and political interest that could sweep away the old institutions in paediatric therapy and in what was still then called special education, inaugurate a whole new way of thinking about disability and development, and demonstrate once and for all the power of consumer-choice and political action over the shape and nature of services. Heady stuff, but that was how it had seemed.

The visual symbols of Conductive Education nowadays seem more concerned with furniture and children’s drawings than with world revolution and changing the existing order. What deeper changes does this signify amongst those who now advocate Conductive Education?

May Day

Nor does the English-speaking world have much of a tradition of celebrating May Day.

If the expression ‘May Day’ means anything in English, then for most people it conjures up no more than images of bucolic, Hey-nonny-nonny frolics around a ribbon-bedecked pole – or the crisp and plaintive International Distress Signal, ‘MAY DAY, MAY DAY, MAY DAY’. Today is May Day but I doubt that in the United Kingdom, nor possibly in other English-speaking countries, there will be many who grant a moment’s thought to the struggles of the oppressed and to the martyrs of the Left. The world has moved on from all that, as they say. Many may not even have noticed that it is May Day in any sense.

The question here is whether Conductive Education still sees itself as a revolutionary movement. Or has it too ‘moved on’? And if the latter, what is it moving on to? I suspect that there may be deeply divided views on this.

Meanwhile, today is May Day so, with all that it implies:

Viva a revoluçaõ condutiva!

It wouldn’t really have the same ring in English, would it?

Notes and references

Leticia Búrigo, Liberdade, naturalidade, espontaneidade…, Educaçaõ condutiva con amor, 24 April 2008
Spring 1919:

Vörös májusra vigan zöldelő
Szabad májust hadd hozzon a jövő!
Legyen majális minden napodon
Ó ember, hittel én ezt dalolom
Hittel, reménnyel május ünnepen,
Ó ember, Testvér, be szeretlek én!
(Juház Gyula)

It’s a small world:

Mihály Biró served as Political Poster Commissar in the Hungarian Soviet government of 1919, along Nicholas Kove (then Klein Miklós) who served as as a Deputy Minister. Both fled the subsequent White Terror, Biró finding his way to the United States and Kove finally to England where he developed the Li-Lo inflatable bed and went on to found Airfix kits:

Nicholas Kove and Airfix:

Andrew Sutton, And now for something completely different, Conductive Education World, 5 January 2008.

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