Thursday, 21 May 2009

C’mon, everybody

You have a world to gain

Why, oh why don’t more conductors (and others directly involved in Conductive Education) write about their experiences, understandings and above all their practice? They might quite rightly regard themselves as ‘no academics’ but so what? They are privy to something much more important than most mere ‘scientists’ can ever be, they are part of the actual phenomenon requiring elucidation.

If only more conductors would speak, or better write about what they know of Conductive Education, then the more there would for researchers, scholars academics, scientists, and just intelligent, enquiring people from any walk of life, to get their teeth into. Correspondingly, there would be the less room for all those understandings, decisions and research about CE, based upon a far-too-thin information base of communicable knowledge about what this very human, personal and social activity actually involves. Conductors may not need themselves to become theoreticians, (though it would be nice if aiming to do so were more widely seen as a part of a proper career path for them).

Certainly, however, especially at the present state of the art, they could and should be providing non-conductors a lot more to chew over.

In the event, however, conductors as a group have created very little communicable knowledge about their actual practice and their understandings of what they do.

This is not meant as an unfriendly comment. No non-conductor recognises better than I how hard most of them work and how little their training prepares them for such a role. Moreover, I appreciate that and they have more than enough to be getting on with doing the things that they arepaid to do, and ‘writing’ is rarely or never one of these),

This is not meant as an unfriendly comment. It is, however, meant as a critical one.

There are no books on the day-to-day minutiae of conductive pedagogy and conductive upbringing, no tradition of writing articles for journals, magazines or even newsletter, and as far as I can discern, there is still only one conductor creating an on-line corpus of accounts of everyday practical minutiae.

This is all a most unhealthy situation. Dysfunctional, you might say.

There is only one way to resolve this disharmony. Others should take up the pen. It could be you.

C’mon, everybody


  1. This so stupid advice. Conductors do not tell what you do. People copy and say this is conductive education. Then everybody does it. Do not tell the work so therapists and assistants can do everything.

  2. Dear Anonymous!
    I tend to think that you either did not understand the posting or you are rather narrow minded with your thinking about the future of CE.
    CE therefore could not get a reasonable status so far because it lacks of theoretical justification and dissemination of its experiences. In the 21st century I am afraid the only way to do this is via research and publications. Just like in any other disciplines it happens via professional and academic journals, literature, conference presentations and so on without the fear of that the audience will 'copy' or 'pinch' the information.
    Historically so many other people said their say about CE, so many commentaries available but the conductors voice is really unheard.
    Andrew is right, we cannot anticipate academic recognition and practical advancement before it is actually clarified what is CE from the practice point of view. We (conductors)cannot have it both ways, complaining about the lack of recognition without sharing what to do and stand up for it in a proper, professional and academic manner, engaging in dialogues with others who rightly do not take CE seriously without evidence from the practice.
    This will not simply help to gain recognition by those who cynical about CE at the moment but also will help conductors to reflect on their practice and encourage to develop it further to suit the ever-changing needs of families and fits with the context they work in.
    Yes, the situation is unhealthy or perhaps dysfunctional as Andrew suggests, but it is not fatal. Conductors slowly contribute to the development of the discourse in very small steps. The question is that will have time to take small steps before we miss the boat?

  3. I wish that I could have put it as well as has Tunde.

    Just one small point, though. Tunde writes:

    'CE therefore could not get a reasonable status so far because it lacks of theoretical justification and dissemination of its experiences. In the 21st century I am afraid the only way to do this is via research and publications.'

    I do not agree here with the word 'only'. Ultimately, surely decisions, reputations, public status etc., derive from political, micro-political, even personal factors, within 'the system'.

    Research etc are all very well, but if services etc. were provided only on this basis there would have been very little of the existing system established in the first place, never mind left standing now!

    Ultimately, on this analysis, CE's future will depend upon winning 'hearts' as much as 'minds', i.e. it will be a political process. Achieve this, create the Holy Cow status currently enjoyed by, say, inclusion, psysiotherapy and multi-agency services in the preschool, and then no one will take notice of what might be established as 'the facts'. That will have to wait for the historians to pick over when it all safely doesn't matter any more.

    Do inclusion, physiotherapy, multi-agency working, merit their current esteem. Who knows? They don't have the same burden of proof upon them as does CE. Why not? Now there's a very interesting question for research, again probably most safely left to the historians.

    Meanwhile, my position on the need to open the windows on to CE and let the world see what is really involved here, on all sorts of levels, is also vital in generating the much-needed 'political' support for CE.

    I have a sneaking feeling, though, that there is something else required here to achieve this, something above simply informed knowledge and awareness. I just can't think what that might be and, if and when it comes, then this might be as much by chance as
    the result of analysis and planning.

    Joanna Lumley did it for the Ghurkas, against every likelihood. What unpredictable factor, what deus (or dea) ex machina, might crack this problem for us?

  4. Andrew,

    I appreciate your comment and I must agree with you. The point I tried to make was that raising the status of CE will not happen without the conductors making a more significant presence professionally and academically or perhaps politically (for which definitely will need another Joanna L...). Maybe someone will come along to convince Gordon Brown and Co. but will not be able to do it without the support of conductors who deliver practice and the only ones who can tell exactly what CE is. Parents and service users will add their own perceptions to make a fuller picture. I wish it would happen in the UK and worldwide.

    However I have a little problem. I am not fully sure what is our desire or what are we aiming for? In which way do we want CE to develop? The Gurkhas have a clear unambigious objective to achieve. Do we have such common aims which are realistic and implementable?

    Ok, lets wait for the chance to come to improve the overall status of CE but are we using the waiting time effectively?

  5. I agree with Tunde here as I have been trying for a longtime to get conductors to write and contribute to library holdings. I have elaborated on these concerns on my latest blog posting at

  6. 1. You write: 'raising the status of CE will not happen without the conductors making a more significant presence professionally and academically or perhaps politically'. Well, actually it COULD be done without the conductors. After all, that is precisely what had to happen in the first phase of internationalising Conductive Education.

    As you imply at the end of your earlier Comment, though, people with more pressing priorities (perhaps relatively well-off parents particularly, isn't that de facto what is already happening anyway?) may not be willing to hang around and wait.

    If change is driven almost wholly by others, conductors might not like the direction that it takes taken: by then, however, it might be to late to do other than complain!

    2. You also write: 'In which way do we want CE to develop? The Gurkhas have a clear unambiguous objective to achieve. Do we have such common aims which are realistic and implementable?'

    Who's 'we'?

    Uniting at least a significant body of the sectional interests within Conductive Education would be a considerable political achievement! Is this really do-able? I suspect that most people would rather direct the enormous effort that this would absorb into getting on with more pressing problems that resolving differences within the conductive movement (herding kittens!).

    I think that we have just got to accept that there is more than one competing agenda here, and they may well be fundamentally irreconcilable. Again, this has happened before and the nascent conductive movement fragmented as a result.

    One simple and hardly contestable example of such an internal contradiction: the agendas of conductors and of those who use (and often pay for) their services may often conflict in a variety of ways. I know that those who read these words will probably have experiences and/or otherwise know of examples galore of this, and be able to think of their own examples of other group conflicts of interest within the conductive movement.

    And what about 'the conductors' themselves: hardly a coherent group! I guess that, better that I, you can think of the divisions and sub-divisions that abrade against each other within the conductor ranks. The Ghurkas have not only had a commonly agreed goal to fight for, they are also a disciplined force. A disciplined force of conductors? Now there's a oxymoron to rival 'police intelligence'

  7. 3. You write of '...conductors who deliver practice ... the only ones who can tell exactly what CE is'. In response, I would gently enquire where is the empirical base for asserting this ability. I think that you are confusing 'should' with 'is' here!

    It was my own belief that they most certainly SHOULD act towards such an ability, that prompted me in the first place to pen the item that is the subject of this thread of Comments .

    4. You also, however, acknowledged: 'Parents and service-users will add their own perceptions to make a fuller picture.' To my taste this does make service-users sound a bit secondary, while I would accord them at least equivalent significance.

    Were I a service-user, a parent, say, and particularly a parent-activist with my own centre, I might be keen to restate in this context the old adage: 'Conductive Education is too important a matter to be left to the conductors'. As a conductor, you might wish to put it otherwise, say: 'Conductive Education is too important a matter to be left to the parents'.

    5. And finally (at least, until you come back to me!) just maybe neither of these two significant sectional interest within the present conductive movement will be decisive for the future development of CE because the world of conductive education as it currently stands may not itself be decisive in this future. The fascinating question then arises of just what might be...

    PS You're too good, Tunde, to waste yourself unseen in the Comments pages of Conductive World., where even Google will not find you.

    Don't be a village-Hampden. Get yourself your own blog. If the likes of you are not going to make your voice heard, then what hope...?


  8. Andrew and others,

    This is what we need, this sort of discussion, but let's hear the conductors' perceptions too. Let's hear about the practice. We had long years of debates on the political and social agendas of conductive education, what about the pedagogical debates?

    Let's discuss the teaching and learning of conductive education just as there are discussions about such issues in other pedagogical/educational approaches.

  9. Tunde, I couldn't agree with you more on everyting you say here.

    And just to remove one possibly imagined barrier in some people's minds: there is nothing sacred about discussing such matters in the English language.

    Conductive Education is at such a primitive tage in this respect that the central point is not that such discussions should be widely undestood in an 'international language' but that they should be undertaken at all.

    It matters not one jot whether conductive practice is described, analysed, criticised etc in this language or that. What matters is that this process should get started. at all.

    This might be in Hungarian, or German, or Spanish, or Russian, or Hebrew, or Chinese, whatever. If other people rally want to take note of what is being written, in any language, then they will find a way to work it out. Conversely, if people want what they have written in their own languages to be more widely available, then they will take steps for others to take notice.

    Either way, distilled and formulated undertandings ought to have a better change to emerge in languages in which writers feel confident and comfortable, and bettr formulated understandings are desperately needed to strengthen the wider world view.

    Sounds ideal! But I am no idealist, and I shall believe it when it happens. In making this remark, by the way, I do take due note of something that you wrote earlier in this thread:

    'Conductors slowly contribute to the development of the discourse in very small steps...'

    Maybe writing in their own languages might so free the tongues of those for whom English is not their first language that these 'very small steps' might break all the more easily into strides.

    '...The question is', you continued, 'will we have time to take small steps before we miss the boat?'

    Never mind short steps, even strides may not be enough here. Conductors (and others) ought to be breaking into a run!

  10. I was going to comment here yesterday but work didn’t finish until late. Today I got carried away with what I was writing so my comment has ended up as a posting on my own blog.

    The posting contains my thoughts from yesterday, including those that I had before I had seen the comments from other people that followed on from Anonymous’s initial remark.

    You can find all this at