Friday, 24 October 2008

A bridge too far?

Will the Munich conference heal the division, or further inflame it?

Today and tomorrow, Munich in Bavaria is the place to be in Conductive Education, for the great German-language CE bean-feast, joint-organised this year by the German conductors' association (to commemorate its tenth anniversary) and by Pfennigparade (German for 'March of Dimes'), a very large provider of disability services in Bavaria.

I really regret not being there because an important, maybe vital, contradiction within world-wide Conductive Education, ususally quietly brushed under the carpet, may briefly surface and attract the explicit attention that it so deserves. This is why the word 'bridge' features prominently in the title of the conference. Most of the people attending will know what this refers to: will they actually say?

Briefly, the conductors in Germany are... conductors.

And Pfennigparade, which is a body of some weight, has put considerable effort for some years now into developing and implementing training for therapists and teachers that it describes as konduktive (conductive) and is based, in so far as I understand it, on the assumption that Conductive Education represents simply a melding of schoolteaching and therapy. The resulting mix is called konduktive Förderung. There is a similar development in Austria, which will also be represented at this conference.

As for parents and those who fund services: they are confused. Hardly surprising.

The conductors is Germany are probably already outnumbered by the products of the Pfennigparade training and a couple of years ago even agreed to admit them as members to their own then tiny conductors' association, apparently because their own numbers were small. There's political nous for you: one thinks of cuckoos and nests.

Just a glimpse at the conference programme shows this demographic problem within German Conductive Education. Interestingly it also shows Franz Schaffhauser, Rektor of the Pető Institute, his presentation on the future role of the Pető Institute in Europe shunted into a parallel session. Also there will be Peter von Quadt, the parent who sparked and led development of the Fortschritt, the all-Germany parents' movement dedicated at its outset to import and establish Pure Pető (Petö Pur).

Oil and water. In Munich this couple of days, in the land of Hegel, Marx and Engels, will it prove that contradictions cannot be 'bridged', only resolved?

A note on terminology

The meaning of the German word konduktive is obvious though, in respect to Conductive Education, its meaning remains at least as little understood as it does in most languages.

The term konduktive pädagogie is now assiduously avoided in Germany and Austria, as it implies little/no role for therapists.

There seems to be no discernable concept of conductive upbringing in the German language.

The term konduktive Förderung is now used universally in German as equivalent of the (equally general) English expression 'Conductive Education'. It is not however a translation. What precisely Förderung means in this context is anybody's guess. It implied 'furthering' something. What precisely it is expected to further is a fundamental question that I do not think has been explicitly addressed.

Nobody, not least the conductors working in Germany, is suggesting that all these teachers and therapists coming on stream with their extra qualification may not indeed be adding to the sum of human well-being. Whether or not Förderung is of any use or not is a separate question and should be addressed explicitly as such in its own right.

What is of concern to conductivists is the positive development of Conductive Education, with the least possible confusion about what it is and what it is about. Perhaps frictions might be reduced or even removed altogether if the word konduktive were to be quietly dropped from the expression konduktive Förderung, with training and services of this kind then bravely making their own way in this world under their own banners.

Some previous items on Germany

No comments:

Post a Comment