Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Barmy army

How little pedagogy does a teacher need?

Why should parents in England have the slightest confidence in handing their children over to the pedagogy-free staff of state schools? This question is writ especially large, umteenfold, when it concerns the parents of disabled children in England.

The Government of that desperately governed country has come up with another egregious scheme to solve some problems or other and to wins somebody-or-other’s votes, and presumably to make just a little more short-term savings.

Unemployed ‘professional people‘, it was announced this morning, will now be able to take a ‘fast-track’ teacher-training, lasting only six months, to qualify as ‘teachers’ (sorry about all those inverted commas but it is impossible to write this without wishing to stand as removed as far as possible from what is expressed).

Further 'fast tracking’ means that they could be head-teachers after four years.

Unemployed bankers and others from financial services are seen as a plausible candidates.

Thanks to inclusion, your developmentally disabled child could soon to be in the care of … oh dear, it all is so obvious it does not need saying.

One hand clapping

Conductive Education has earnestly spent twenty-plus years trying to argue an intellectual case with the state education system. It has tried to do this at all sorts of levels, and the arguement is carried on day to day when individual families try to assert their choice of schooling. This has been hard enough in a situation where individual teachers and education officers have such limited understanding of the nature of child development, and where the education system itself seems to have such contempt for the very notion that ‘teachers’ need to be trained to teach, and understand what it is that they are doing.

All too often the 'debate' has been the sound of one hand clapping.

Six months of curriculum content and a little (ineffective) about controlling behaviour in the classroom? How can anybody, parent, conductor, anybody discuss a child’s ’needs’ with such a ‘professional’? How even at this most basic of levels can Conductive Education be communicated'?

What on Earth can the concept of a special pedagogy mean to teachers who have no pedagogy and not have the slightest idea even that there is such a thing?

Maybe it is different elsewhere in the English-speaking world. Please reassure me if it is.

No, today’s date is 10 March. It is not yet 1 April. If you do not believe me, see for example:



The title of this article comes alludes to one of the more important academic papers on and around Conductive Education. A competent educator making decisions about questions around the education and development of children with motor disorders should be prepared to read such an article if not having done so already:

Lebeer J (1998) How much brain does a mind need? Scientific, clinical and educational implications of ecological plasticity Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 40: 352-357

Jo Lebeer is a parent/carer, research neurologist, campaigner inclusionis, mediationist and author


  1. Andrew, the link to Jo Lebeer's article seems to lead me to an impasse which requires cookies to be enabled. As I have cookies enabled on my computer, I do not know where to go next.

    Googling the article's title results in all sorts of options that all lead to academic publishers who have yet to join the "open information" society of the internet and so do not have electronically accessible copies.

    Now if NICE had a Librarian and a Library ....!

  2. I have it! The link worked! Why now and not before, I haven't a clue. But other readers can be reassured the fault, whatever it was, was not with your link.

  3. For easy access, direct link to the article in PDF format can be found at


    Kind wishes, Judit

  4. Thank you very much, both of you.

    I'm afraid that there are still far too many academic publishers who deny access to their materials, even to 'older' items like this.

    So an especial thank-you to Wiley Interscience.

    I do hope that other readers of Conductive World are as assiduous in their enquiry as you have been, and that they find Jo's article (a very condensed verson of his PhD, hence the enormous reference list!) as useful as I have over the years.

    This month I shall be lecturing student-conductors on this matter for the last time but there has been nothing of this sort to emerge from Conductive Education in the intervening years to replace it. (There has, however, I'm afaid, been some lower-level stuff emerge of a contray nature!)

    Incidentally, there is another 'classic' that I used to give them, pulling the rug from under the supposed research-base for the contribution of the brain sciences to the educational endeavour. I can pass you the reference for that too if you have an appetite for it.

    As you say Norman, there's a lot in the Library.