Saturday, 20 September 2008

Fantasy and reality

What are people to believe?

Fantasy football

I’m not a football person but I do know that there are various, distinct kinds of football in this world and that in each instance their respective adherents recognise and applaud all sorts of perceived virtues. I can’t understand such enthusiasms myself but, as long as they don’t interfere with my own liberties, scare the horses etc., then good luck to everyone involved.

Can one, however, go one better than the existing, diverse situation? Would we not achieve something better if we could somehow combine all these different virtues within a single team.

I know of the following kinds of football:

Association Football
Rugby Union
Rugby League
American Football
Australian Rules
Gaelic Football

There are probably more that I have not heard of but this list of six will do for present purposes.

I would guess (through common sense and the most brushing of contact with sporting culture) that players in the differnt games obey different rules, have different skills, follow different tactics, belong to different historical cultures and even develop different body builds. They have in common that they chase a ball back and forth across a field and try to score by getting it somewhere at their opponents’ end of the pitch. To that degree, whatever the means adopted to achieve this, they are all there for the same thing.

Let us now do a 'thought experiment'.

Differences notwithstanding, let us bring together representatives of each different kind of football mentioned above to create a single team. They can all then learn from each other and, presto, we shall have something better than the six original components.

Let us go further. Let’s have a team captain from another sport which has in common that it is also a ball game, say cricket or baseball, tennis or golf. Now we have something new and innovative. I don’t know what to call it but the term ‘multi-something team’ comes to mind.

I wonder that the fans will think of it…

No I don’t, I know. I can even guess at some of the words they would use…

Conductive Education: expert definition

This morning Google thoughtfully alerted me to the following.

Conductive education - This is to help the child become more independent. Their day will be planned out with physiotherapists, speech therapists and what is called their conductor who will oversee all the tasks to see day to day how the child is progressing and set new more tasks for them, which when achieved will increase the Childs self-esteem. The conductor will form a very close bond with the child, which is vitally important for how successful this treatment will be. The conductor will look at the child not the special need and help to bring out the Childs personality and use their interests to help them learn and achieve more.

FLeoor some reason I couldn’t open the site that I had been alerted me to ( so I entered a few words from the sentence or two that Google had sent as a taster. Try it for yourself. Search for “what is called their conductor who will oversee” (don’t forget to use the double inverted commas) and you get 104 hits from public-information, popular-health sites. They are all identical, and written by ‘expert’ Barry Hynes.
If people think something to be important but can find no clear understanding immediately to hand, then they will create their own, adapting whatever parameters they may have chanced upon, and whatever empirical observations they may make themselves or hear about from others, all blended together and flavoured by their existing knowledge and ideas. Ecce, a new conceptualisation of Conductive Education is born .

It may all be done with the best intentions, and nobody is to blame. You do not have to follow Viktor Frankl to recognise that human beings want to make sense of their world and in doing so create our very humanity. We cannot necessarily blame others for any particular sense that they impose upon any confusion that they might find around Conductive Education.

Rather they should take it as a further wake-up call, if further be needed, calling for coherent definition of the real McCoy from within the Conductive Education movement, before alternative images of reality begin to take hold outside.

Levels of reality

Would any reasonable person put together and captain a football team like the one suggested above?

Why do otherwise reasonable people suspend disbelief when they talk about human services?

What indeed is Conductive Education and on what basis should one define it?

I suspect that the answer to the first question is No. I cannot even begin to try and answer the second, with respect to Conductive Education as for any other human service. I can however venture two contrasting answers for how one might go about the answering the third.

One the one hand, Conductive Education is definable on the basis of explicit parameters handed down, refined and developed and explicitly agreed by those that exercise them. This is often assumed to be the case by outsiders but from the inside it is apparent that this remains far from the case.

On the other, Conductive Education can be defined empirically, by what happens under that name on the ground. Thus 'Conductive Education' might be something done by conductors providing short, occasional programs, or working individually in families, or it might be something found in clinics or special schools as one of the treatments that therapists say that they are able to apply – and, oh yes, it might also comprise a long-term, all-embracing system of upbringing for child and family (but not in many places).

I can also say with some certainty that Mr Hynes’s definition offers only a distant echo of what I recognise as the parameters of Conductive Education, and empirically there can be very few settings around the world resembling the practical arrangement that he describes.

So, if you are a parent, or a student, or a journalist, or an interested professional, asking the perennial question ‘What is Conductive Education?’, then what is the 'real' answer? An explicit reply does not come loud and clear from within Conductive Education, and a survey of what is going on under that name would produce no consistent, compatable impression. But – as of today – 104 websites (and probably rising) will provide you with categorical expert opinion, as real as a fantasy football team..

And that for some is where reality might appear to lie, however implausible the situation described.


Barry Hynes – Expert Author

‘Expert writers’ may post their articles on a searchable database of hundreds of thousands of articles allowing email newsletter publishers to find articles, for their next newsletter The site claims hundreds of thousands of daily visitors , including an audience of email publishers each having thousands more readers on their email lists. This means, says Ezine, that its ‘original articles and expertise may be exposed to hundreds of thousands or even millions of people rather than waiting passively for someone to syndicate it on yet another website with no traffic’.

If this is so, then there is a reality out there in the world of information that real reality will be hard-pressed to match! And people may well suspend belief, and their normal standards of judgement, and believe it.


  1. Who or where or what is "Barry Hynes" - an expert he? Does he exist as a real person or is he perhaps an avatar escaped from 'Second Life'? He certainly has a viral presence on the internet.

  2. I looked at Barry Hynes webpage
    and opened a few of the articles one of which was "Diagnosis and treatment of cerebral palsy", and I wondered if Bobath trained therapist would be just as dissatisfied with what they read there about their profession as those involved in CE are when they read the definition of CE.
    He writes:
    The Bobath concept - This concentrates on helping the child physically using play to increase muscle control, improve the Childs posture and reduce stiffness. The therapist involved in this use key points of the body when handling the child at all times. This can greatly improve the Childs mobility.
    I believe they would be very dissatisfied because Barry Hynes description of Bobath therapy has in my view very little to do with what I see when I accompany my young clients to physiotherapy, (most physiotherapists in Germany are Bobath trained).

  3. Norman, I have a little more information and am posting it on the main body of Conductive Education World. Scroll up to 24 September.

    Nice one, Susie, I was being too indignant about his vision og Conductive Education to notice the tratment of poor old 'Bobath'.