Thursday, 23 April 2009

V or L?

That is the question

Even governments are now admitting that the problem before us is not a credit crunch. It is the loan crisis.

At whatever level we operate, be this trying to rescue a national economy, keeping alive a struggling business, or just managing our own personal finances, it it the loan crisis that will define our experience of the years to come.

In the United Kingdom, for example, on present calculation it will take at least ten years (yes, that's till 2017) to pay off our national indebtedness, that's ten years of austerity, making do, changing the way that we live, just to pay of our national overdraft and keep our economic chin above water.

Is it V or is it L?

These letters are not abbreviations, they represent alternative graphical representations of the course of the recession.


This represents a recession in which a sharp decline bottoms out fairly quickly, after which the much vaunted and heralded 'green shoots of recovery' will be followed by a quick economic upturn, after which we shall be very much back where we started from, the recession will be 'over', we can dust off our previous expectations and plans, and carry on very much as we were before.

This will apply whether we be nations, institutions or individuals and, of course, it applies also to Conductive Education, whatever the nature of our involvement in this.
The only question then is how quick it will be before we hit the bottom and head back up towards 'recovery'.

Phew! Job done. All over by Christmas (if not Christmas 2009, then Christmas 2010).


In this representation, the economy does not simply 'bottom out', it stays there, and then drags along the bottom with the income from the productive parts of the economy syphoned off into servicing debt, with little or nothing left for us to experience recovery.

It is with this model very much in mind that first public noises are being made about cutting back on public services though, of course, nobody dares yet speculate publicly on the priorities, choices, decisions that this will involve.

How long will this last and where might this all lead? In Conductive Education like, in everything else, we shall be very wise after the act.

A compromise graph?

Perhaps this is the best that we can hope and plan for, a looooooong, shallow U, to bring us back eventually to somewhere like may have been regarded until recently as normality.

Well, maybe, in some places and in some specific circumstances the status quo will be maintained or restored, and that will apply to Conductive Education too. For some it may indeed be business as normal.

This will depend in part how much the world will have moved on over the intervening years, how much people and institutions will have been changed by their experiences, what will have become of the wider social situations in which Conductive Eduction is presently embedded in different countries around the world.

And in Conductive Education, this will upon the continuing working through and resolution of inherent contradictions within the system itself, still present in V, more likely exaccerbated/accelerated than pushed aside by the circumstances of L or U.


Sutton, A (2008) Conductive Education: whatever next? Google Knol, 2 December


  1. Andrew - so briefly as perhaps to be meaningless, but no time to comment at length. So here goes;

    "to bring us back eventually to somewhere like may have been regarded until recently as normality"

    They said much the same on BBC news tonight: "when will we get back to the levels of public expenditure we have been used to".

    I'm not sure I want to return to those levels of 'normality', with public expenditure having ballooned under this government that I have supported since 1997.

    Likewise, I'm not sure I want to return to the "business models" of conductive education that have been common since 1986.

    We need new models of public service expenditure not financed by massive debt; do we also need new models of CE services not characterised by isolated organisations, reliant heavily upon on fundraised income, which have been common since 1986?

    More questions than answers.

  2. I have no answers either.

    I DO know how I should like things to be. I know now, though, what THIS can land one in. I guess that you do too.

    I also know that, as day follows night, there will be NO return to the status quo ante bellum, much as many people would like it otherwise. But as far as how things will pan out post bellum, search me.

    Two lines of thought:

    (1) With major economic change, lots of institutions, jobs and other activities will simply vanish. That is surely one aspect of economic and social history that no one will seriously contest.

    (2) More arguable is the fate of ideas, knowledge, values etc in this situation.

    When your economic time is up, then I doubt that there to be much to be done to avoid (1) above. Perhaps the the question of (2), though, may be something worth considering, as a contribution to the new world that comes after.

    I suspect, however, that most people, in most walks of life, will be far too occupied trying to hang on to where they were before to take serious account of either (1) or (2).