Monday, 26 January 2009

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

(Happy New Year in Cantonese)

Today marks the start of the Chinese Spring Festival, and commencement of the Year of the Ox.

It is also the year in which the SAHK (the Spastics Association of Hong Kong) will be setting in motion arrangements for the VII. Conductive Education World Congress, to be held in December 2010. The Congress will be formally launched any time now.

Will this congress be important?

It will be, if the people who go ensure that it is. This ‘Year of the Ox’ will the year in which those who hope to attend the Congress sort out how they are going to be able to do so. And these those who who hope to contribute, through presentations, workshops, posters and in other ways, will have to turn their minds to the additional question of what they may have to offer, and start considering how they might best make their contributions.

December 2010 may seem a long time away, especially when seen through the glass of the terrible uncertainties of 2009. Perhaps these very uncertainties, however, make it even more important that this Congress, more than any of the six that went before, should deal with grave and fundamental issues about what Conductive Education is, what it can do and how its benefits will not just survive but flourish in the world of the future, however this may be achieved.

There is no other substantial conductive convocation in prospect in the foreseeable future. If collective effort, face-to-face disputation, discourse and debate, have any role to play in deciding the future of Conductive Education then this Congress s the only game in town. Use this opportunity, or lose it.

Put it a different way. For a number of reasons few people in Conductive Education (and this doesn’t just mean conductors, by a long chalk) do not ‘read’ around the topic. Fewer still ‘write’. The miracle of electronic communication is therefore largely wasted on the world of Conductive Education. For better or for worse, the ‘old’ means of personal face-to-face contact may still be disproportionately important in maintaining the coherence of the conductive movement.

The year of the Ox

For a few days in Hong Kong, in December 2010, Conductive Education will ‘exist’ and define itself as a possible world movement. That at least may be how the world may perceive it, so it is important what the rest of the world sees and hears.

This is not solely up to the congress-organisers. Everyone in the conductive movement has a potential contribution to make. Of course, if you submit a contribution, you cannot know whether it will be accepted, and even if it is you cannot predict whether it will make the slightest impact on anyone or anything. What you can say, however, with absolute certainty, is that if you don’t submit something then you will stand no chance whatsoever of sharing your experiences, your analyses, your opinions. You can instead look forward to the satisfaction of saying, as many have said before about all sorts of things, ‘I’m not going there, it will be just the same old boring stuff, it’s of no interest to me’.

It is time for everyone in Conductive Education with a serious concern for its future, to start making plans for how on Earth to get there in 22 months’ time, to listen, to meet, perhaps to speak, certainly to argue and above all to think! It might be the last chance to do so this way.

Not an easy prospect in these recessionary times.

In the Chinese zodiac the sign of the Ox, hardly surprisingly, symbolizes prosperity through fortitude and hard work. Maybe that tells us something.


Sutton, A. (2008) Next World Congress: first announcement. Practical waymark for us all. Conductive World, 9 December

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