Thursday, 4 September 2008

Towards a voice for conductors

Further conductor's blog gets up steam

I have just posted a Comment to the latest posting on László Szögeczki's blog, 'Statement of being a Conductive Education teacher'. I republish my comment here (with my typos and punctuation corrected!) to give it, and Laszlo's statement, a wider currency:

Welome aboard, Laci, and congratulations for your significant contribution to the long, long task of giving conductors a 'voice'. I look forward to reading a lot more in later postings, both on general matters of principle and on specific issues that arise out of your practice and your research.

I have just come back from the annual North American conference where I sensed that a major problem holding back and diverting the development of Conductive Education there is and will be the almost total lack of communication between two 'sides' in the CE movement, the conductors and the non-conductors. The conductors there are a remarkable bunch, but they have virtually no way of voicing what they think about things, about how they feel and what they know. The 'debate' there around CE therefore carries on as if they do not exist!

The situation in North America is no different of course from that elsewhere, in the UK, in Europe and other parts of the world. Conductors are fundamental to the present development of Conductive Educaton but they are in effect mute.

As you know, you are the second conductor to make a major breakthrough into cyberspace. Susie Mallett and you are true pioneers and I do most sincerly hope and expect that soon other conductors will draw courage from your openness and efforts, and join you with blogs of their own, to make their vital contribution to a better public understanding of the essence of CE, not least amongst parents, disabled people and all those confused professionals.

Blogging CE on the Internet is still little over a year old Surely, though, it has barely begun growing to what it might be, in scale and in substance. There are now five regular established CE blogs listed in the information column on the left of this page. Two are now by conductors, Susie and Laci, and two from that equally vital wing of the conductive movement, parent-activists who have funded and now run CE services.

There is also a growing swarm of other bloggers, mostly parents of chidren with cerbral palsy, with a less frequent presence on the Internet or one less exclusively focussed upon CE (Pageflages, for which also see the left-hand column of this page, offers a partial guide to these).

So far I have spotted nothing from either of the major wings of the CE movement, or anywhere else, posted in Hungarian, but I may be missing something important. Any illumination gratefully received.

At the moment, the CE's bloggers are a small and relatively inconsequential group. As the group grows, though, bringing in representatives of other groups currently sheltering under the 'Conductive Education' umbrella, then so will the diversity of opinion expressed and we may at last experience some of the clash of open debate that the CE movement so deperately needs.


Szogeczki, L (2008) Statement of being a Conductive Education Teacher, László Szögeczki's, 3 September


  1. As a response to the latest posting from Andrew Sutton regarding his perception of the communication between the two side of CE -–conductors and non-conductors in North America and the lack of a voice for the conductors—I cannot help to consider that his perception was largely based on the ACENA conference, since after all, this was the recent event he had attended in the US — an event he observed and participated and contributed towards; however, I may be mistaken, perhaps there were other reasons that I am not aware of —but I would be hard pressed to know what those other experiences were that would have led him to this disappointing perception so shortly after attending this event. To say the least, I am truly and heartily dismayed at what was perceived by him. Firstly, let me allow full disclosure, that I happen to be one of the person's who assisted in coordinating this event, my opinion may be perceived as defensive and biased, and to add further, unfortunately, according to Mr. Sutton, I am one of those non-conductors (and I hope that my opinion is not held in any less regard due to this fact). Mr. Sutton' statement that "the conductors have virtually no way of voicing what they think about things, about how they feel and what they know" is I feel--inaccurate. Please allow me to list two explicit examples of opportunities, and these are real facts, not just biased opinions of defensiveness, that indicate the presence of conductors VOICES at this conference:
    1.)Feedback from conductors/attendees: There was great deal of time and effort given in trying to receive feedback from the all the attendees on each and every one of the topics/courses presented in the conference via a course evaluation form, an important tool and voice for any attendee/conductor to express their opinion about the conference ---what they would or would not like repeated again next year---a tool that was specifically designed to assist the ACENA board and members in formulating the decision of topics and presenters for the next conference in North America . The brief review of ALL the feedback on all the sessions was positive, and exceeded for the most part, beyond just a "fair or "good" rating—matter of fact, most were excellent. Along that note, it was decided by the executive board of ACENA, of which over half of the board is comprised of conductors, that the conference would be held in Chicago again--why would this poor level of communication between two sides want to repeat this one-sided conversation where the “conductors are mute”—the conductors were not mute--they filled out the evaluation forms as did the rest of non-conductors, parents, therapists, and MD’s alike (of special note, the greatest representation attending the conference happened to have been conductors).
    2.) Speaker Representation and Course Topics: Both the keynote speaker (which happened to be Mr. Sutton), and the speaker following the keynote address at this conference were two individuals representing two of the most recognized training institutions internationally for conductors, they were profiled first and center for this conference—how is it that this does not reflect a “voice” for conductors? Ironically, the keynote speaker , in as far as conferences I have attended, is to be perceived as a high priority to set the tone, theme and focus for a conference—it is the KEY address—wouldn’t this represent a loud voice at a conference? These two individuals themselves are regarded as powerful voices for conductors, opportunities for them to express themselves within America about the field and state of conductive education throughout the world, including North America. Matter of fact, a review of all the presentations/courses offered at this conference delineated by the various professions/roles for these speakers are as follows: Conductors (7), Physical therapists (2), Occupational therapists (1), Physicians (4), Parents (2), and Epidemiologist (1). What was missing here? In my opinion, educators—specifically, the special education field, a goal already identified for next year’s conference. Lastly, solicitation and call for papers was open to all members of ACENA—no one who offered to present was declined—no voices muted.
    The intent for this conference was to be about the practice of conductive education--- courses that were presented by non-conductors were directly related to cerebral palsy or to enhance the support and collaboration of conductive education with other related fields---all of which are voices within the life of an individual with a motor disability.
    On a personal note, my voice as a non-conductor is that I truly wish to have a conversation about conductive education, and on many levels, to hear the voice of a conductor on the perspective of the conductive education teacher who may come from a different culture, frame of reference, and may have a different method to achieve a mutual goal—to truly understand the intentions of each other. To be able to have the essence and principles of conductive education expressed and available for reference regardless of what culture or country I may practice in—to have a paradigm and theory of which I can draw a greater understanding about how this practice may allow variance in methods to accommodate to the culture and context CE is used, but without compromising the practice of CE, ---to be able to explain CE to other collaborating professions I encounter along the way within a language that they are familiar in using, again, without losing the meaning or true intent of what CE is all about and what it can offer --I have asked for this communication and truthfully, it has been met occasionally with apprehension and as I perceive—a mistrust. My intentions have been clear—I am here to support conductive education , and further my understanding, and you are right Andrew, it takes a two sided conversation for that to occur effectively.
    Andrew, I have to say, if you felt there was a lack of communication, and you have intentions to change that for the better---to improve that relationship and dialogue—would this posting have been the best way to go about it?

    I do sincerely welcome any further replies because I am intent on continuing communication between two sides in a positive and constructive manner—to communicate honestly, candidly, and most importantly, professionally, via conferences, papers, research publications, forums, and even in person—and not just through a blog site.

    Monika Robinson

  2. It seems/sounds to me that there is a hugh misunderstanding here Monika. I do not not feel like that Andrew was writing about the Conference in Chicago but ganarally mentioned the lack of communication of different professionals. However, I shell be wrong, too.
    Laszlo Szogeczki

  3. I am experiencing some of the problems Laci mentions in his own blog myself here in Germany at the moment and because of my lack of "voice" I am dangling on a string waiting to see if I have any work when term starts again later this month. As Laci says conductors move from place to place and are either dependent on charitable organisations or parent initiatives to give them work and often choose to keep a low profile.

    Time is also a governing factor and in the small groups of conductors working all over Europe there is rarely one where a conductor is responsible for organisation, thus having a "voice", this is left to a non-conductor. Conductors are needed for the hands on work.

    Also because of language barriers conductors do not have the contact with all the different authorities and departments which are involved in the financing and organisation of CE groups, so once again no voice.It is almost as if CE takes place with a hidden, invisible presence, the mysterious conductor, in the background.

    This lack of a "voice" has a detrimental effect on developing conductive education as a profession outside of Hungary.

    Susie Mallett