Sunday, 14 September 2008

Something borrowed…

… something blue...

Two very interesting postings from conductors László Szögeczki and Susie Mallett who have most certainly themselves found a public voice though the medium of their blogs – and in doing so suggest just what a store of ideas and experience are waiting out there when more conductors do the same.

Because their blogs are fairly new and as yet fairly little visited, as is graphically indicated by their respective visitors’ maps, I have no hesitation in passing on what they say and urging everyone to take a glance at and even bookmark:

Paolo Freire

Thirty years ago everybody I knew had a copy of Pedagogy of the Oppressed. I could kick myself for not having years later spotted its relevance to Conductive Education, both in respect of substance and for what it says about the ‘struggle’ for Conductive Education.

Nobody else seems to have spotted it either – perhaps victim of the widely met dumbing-down notion of not counting academic sources over five years old!

Unaccountably László’s brief summary of Freire’s ideas misses out the idea of the 'class suicide' or 'Easter experience' of the teacher, a nice way of looking at the personal transformation that is an essential and often personally painful part of becoming a conductor.

I shall enjoy revisiting Freire and, if I like it, might even look out a copy of Pedagogy of Hope. Reliving Pedagogy of the Oppressed. A quick check shows that liberation pedagogy is alive and kicking out there, not least where ultimately Conductive Education promises most, the developing world. Maybe there are productive links to be made there...

I offer László a sincere Thank-you for reminding me of all this.

Conductors: necessary but not sufficient

Are conductors necessary to achieve Conductive Education? There’s a tricky one.

Here’s a question that might seem even trickier: if do you have conductors do you also therefore have Conductive Education – or do you need something more?

Actually the second question might look trickier but is it is in fact much easier to answer!

Years ago, when people were continually asking me the question ‘Where can I get Conductive Education?’ I began the long, frustrating exercise of trying to create a register of places where conductors work around the world.

I deliberately refused to answer the question as posed, ‘Where can I get Conductive Education?’ because of two, not necessarily identical further questions (questions for myself, that is, if not always necessarily occurring to the people making the enquiry of me!) that neither I nor anyone else is in a position to answer:

(1) a criterial question, what is do you mean by Conductive Education?
(2) the quality question, is it any good?

I therefore adopted the neutral criterion ‘where conductors work around the world’. At least with this I could aim to provide a factual, opinion-free reply!

Gill Maguire who has tried to keep this register going (under a less discriminating title) makes the same explicit distinction nevertheless and the listing continues my original exculapatory caveat:

Important caution

Inclusion on this list is strictly according to the criterion ‘employing conductors’ and in no way implies any comment on the nature or quality of the services provided. Caveat emptor!

Susie Mallet gives a conductors-eye view of this important issue in the most recent posting on her blog, Conductor. She is certainly not the first person to voice these considerations but she is, I think, the first conductor to do so, and as ever she makes her viewpoint very clear.


Mallett, S, (2008) No need for a spectacle! Conductor, 14 September

Szögeczki, L. (2008) Paolo Freire, László Szögeczki's CE blog, 11 September

Where conductors work around the world

Something borrowed in the title of this posting refers to the excellent suggestion of borrowing Freire's position and seeing how it applies Conductive Education; something blue refers to Susie Mallet's predeliction for blue ladies to illustrate several of her postings.


  1. Yes, I did miss out the shift of consciousness, the personal transformation part. Thank you for the adjustment.

  2. Re Paulo Freire: in "Looking Back and Looking Forwards - A Tribute to Andrew Sutton"; see "Conductive Education - a Liberating Pedagogy" by Ray Kohn.

    Ray writes "It was clear to me that CE, when properly practised, was a systematic structure of liberating pedagogy. I could imagine Paulo Freire smiling at my rather late discovery."

    Ray brings his contribution to a close with this remarkable testimony: "[conductors] are amongst the most interesting educationalists I have come across over the past 30 years. Their willingness to adapt, their speed of understanding genuine issues of learning and their unusual skills give them remarkable insights into the possibilities that are always present for any learner."

  3. It shows I'm getting old when I don't remember my own Festschrift!

    Aplogies all round and thanks, Norman, for bringing this to my attention! I shall come back to it later.