Sunday, 7 September 2008

Moscow news

Things coming together in Russia

I have just written and sent off an article for a new Russian magazine ‘Contemporary preschool education. Theory and practice’. A tall order: introduce Conductive Education (at least as it relates to children of preschool age and their families) in around two-thousand words, to a society that had virtually never heard of it!

Earlier materials from Hungary

Never heard of it in Russia? Well, not altogether true. Russian families have been finding their way to Budapest for quite some time, to the degree now that the scale of their presence at the Pető Institute justifies continuous provision (groups) for them, see below. Further, there have been Russians trained at the Pető Institute as conductors – but to little national benefit as most went off abroad (we had a really nice one at NICE for a while; she is now, I think, in Belgium).

Not much, however, was published in Russian from Hungary

Long ago, in 1974, two Soviet visitors published a brief report in a Soviet medical journal, following a visit to the then State Institute in Budapest. In 1981 Mária Hari presented a paper to a medical conference in the Soviet city of Suzdal’ (this was not published at the time but an English translation did appear, in 2004), and in 1982 in the journal Defektologiya she published a different paper.

Later the well-traveled German-English-Chinese book Dina was also published in Russian translation: twenty-thousand copies of this were produced but their current availability is unknown.

In Russian they don't need the equivalent of the generic English term 'Conductive Education' but make the correct distinction between conductive pedagogy and conductive upbringing. Search the Internet in Russian under these terms and find the same sorts of uncertainties about what it is all aboutas emerge, say, in English and German.


Practical developments

In 2005, acting on behalf of Moscow City Council, the organization Globus 21 Ltd invited the Pető Institute to make a contract to help children living in the Moscow region. The work began the following year and in 2007 fourteen groups of Russian children visited the Pető Institute in Budapest. By 2008 this had risen to eighteen. Each group has numbered fifteen children and parents have also been involved.

The plan now is to open a centre in Moscow, to work under the supervision of the Pető Institute, its longer-term development to take account of the prevalence of cerebral palsy in the Moscow region. It is reckoned that three years after successful commencement there the centre could begin training conductors.

In my article I have written as follows:

It may be hard for specialists in the West to understand ‘Conductive Education’ as they are trained in a very different philosophical tradition, but I have always found that people from the former Soviet Union grasp its essentials instantly. For historical reasons, both theoretically and in certain aspects of practice, conductive pedagogy and conductive upbringing have close affinities to Soviet defectology, psychology and education. Of all societies in the world, Russia and its near-abroad should find it easiest to develop their own conductive systems.

I have felt this since I first heard of Conductive Education nearly thirty years ago. Maybe now this hypothesis will be put to the test.


Notes and references

It is most worthy of note that written information about the collaboration with Globus 21 Ltd was provided by the Pető Institute at my request, tangible testimony to the most remarkable turn-around in the openness of that institution under its new direction.

Акош, Kарoли, Акош, Магдга (1994) Помощь детям с церебралниым парaличoм. Кондуктивная педагoгика. Книгa для родитeлей. M. изд-во Улисc

Hari, M. (1981) Presentation to the Symposium of the Socialist Countries on Child Neurology, Suzdal’, 5-6 October 1981 [English translation, with a short English commentary, in ‘Out East’, Chapter 5 of G. Maguire and Andrew Sutton (eds.) (2004) Mária Hári on conductive pedagogy, Birmingham, Foundation for Conductive Education, pp.73-80]

Семенова, K., Мастюкова, Е. (1974) O кондyтивнoм воспитании детей c церебрльными праличaми в Венгрской Народной Републике, Дeфектология, 2, 93-95

Xapи. M. (1982) Meтoд кондyтивнoгo воспитания и eгo poль в coцильной адипций детей c церебрльными праличaми, Журнал невропaтологии и псхиаитpии им. Корсаковa, 82/10, 1501-1510

Globus 21 Ltd: globus21vek@mail.ru

Журнал «Современное дошкольное образование. Теория и практика»

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