Saturday, 6 December 2008

Conductive Education: whatever next?

Towards post-recessonary thinking: notes of a lecture

New knol

Après la guerre finie…?

It seems to have been a week of economics and finance, with events and their news tumbling out on top of each other. I never thought that I would have found economic news so grimly fascinating. It can be, though, maybe because so much of so far mainly affects other people. Yes, it is already affecting me a little financially, but not yet in ways that are personally disastrous. It rather like being a citizen in a country involved in a major overseas conflict, watching the worsening war maps every day but hearing very little yet about casualties amongst people whom I personally know. People whom I know personally: for the purpose of Conductive World, this means the hundreds of people and programs, Conductive Education and ’conductivists’ whom I know or know of around the world, all with very own different roles and purposes but united by their common involvement in this precious system.

And like any citizen in a war, my concern is not just what is happening now, not just what is going to happen next, but what is going to happen in the long run. ’Will we win?’ ‘What will it be like after the war?’And what do we tell the children?

A lecture

Children are the next generation, those who will have to live with the mess that their parents have created, make do and set to, and create a new world that is better, one always says, than the old one. Since last Sunday my enthusiasm for the ‘war maps’ has drawn me into writing seven communiqués on Conductive World that have been either directly economic and financial in subject or powerfully influenced by such considerations. This has not entirely driven out reporting more everyday concerns, but almost. Apologies to readers who clock in here to find out a little more about András Pető and Buddhism and angels, or of the meaning and sense of expressions like ‘conductive observation’, the relative significance of ‘task series’ etc. The material and the intention are present for these, they are not ‘suspended for the duration‘. It is just that it seems more pressing at the moment to urge people to the severity of their present situation. Like Cassandra, it feels, but maybe that too will soon change.

On Tuesday I had to give a long-scheduled lecture to first-year students at the National Institute of Conductive Education. In the ordinary way of things (‘peacetime’) this would have probably been an update of the same lecture that I gave on the same topic exactly a year ago. The title of the lecture? ‘From Pető to what?' This was slippery ground indeed by last Tuesday!

Hence my question, ‘What to tell the children?

These students of course by no means children, but young, sophisticated adults. Sure, they do not follow the world economic news as a saddo like myself does. Nor, I know, do they follow Conductive World. But they are all citizens, running their own lives and responsible for everyday decisions that are already affected by the crisis. They are, however, in only their first year of preparing to be conductors. Ought I somehow to cushion them from what I have been increasingly airing in Conductive World. Is this only for the ‘grown-ups’, those more thoroughly entrenched in Conductive Education? There is only one answer to this, academically and ethically: tell them the truth as I see it, justify what is said, index it to their own experience, and raise their eyes to the future.

This is another one that will not be 'over by Christmas’. We shall be in it for the long haul and these young men and women are part of the generation that does most of the actual fighting in any war, and will bear the brunt of what comes after.

‘Conductive Education: whatever next?'

The usual way in which I lecture nowadays is to prepare a skeleton outline of what I shall say then extemporise around this. I have a copy in front of me as I speak and distribute a further copy to each of the students. This way I can time and pace my progress (so can they!) and the students have a hard copy of what I intended to say alongside other notes of that they thought that I said. Some add their own notes to mine in addition to what they write on heir own paper. I am sure the there are better ways of teaching at this level, but this is the way that usually suites me.

The ‘lecture’ took some two-and-a half hours, not up to Fidel Castro’s standards, and we did take a twenty-minute break in the middle. This is a small group, only ten in number when they are all there, a bright and articulate bunch, already with a much less 'secure’ view of the world in general that I had at their age. I fact, as the lecture progressed, I was impressed by their equanimity and the positive suggestions made for how the future might be faced. It was an encouraging experience and l rather wish that it could have extended the discussion for a further half-session (but we do have a little time for this next Tuesday).

Knol it

Over the last two to three months Conductive World has been drawn increasingly into economic concerns. This lecture provided me the necessity of standing up and trying to assess where we are, and to wonder, in a more formal and measured way, whether I am being no more that the Fat Boy in Dickens (‘I wants to make your flesh creep’). By this week lingering questions of that kind have altogether dispersed.

After the lecture I decided to share this lecture more widely, beyond a small gathering of cadets out to the foot soldiers in the fields, their subalterns and sergeant, the colonels and generals. I would ‘knol’ it. Before doing so I emailed a copy of my notes to a few people whose judgements I value, to test it out, but the computer system did something weird and not all could received it. I would have liked their private thoughts, counterblasts etc before going public but time marches on and the very title that I have imposed on these notes for their publication cries out that time is of the essence and one can be very easily overtaken by events.

So I have 'knolled' my lecture notes, pretty much as they were, with some at last of the typos corrected, rougher bits rubbed a little smooth, and slightly reformatted to fit into Google Knol.
Readers' responses will be very welcome, either in the Comments section below or in the one provided on the knol itself

The lecture

Sutton, A. (2008) Conductive Education: whatever next? Towards post-recessonary thinking, 2 December

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