Wednesday, 3 June 2009


A welcome, and a few immediate comments
Susie Mallett’s Conductor blog has been offering regular and revealing views and insights of her personal conductive practice. Now she has presented a more formalised, summative statement of what she has set out to achieve as a conductor over the last eighteen years.

You can see this extensive report of her 
family conductive upbringing, including three illuminative case studies at:

FCU has been applies to the famiies of both children and adults.

Family conductive education

It has been long (though not extensively) remarked that, if you really do feel the need to describe Conductive Education as a ‘therapy’, then it is more appropriate to do so in terms of a psychotherapy, rather then by what is usually meant by 'therapy' with respect to children and adults with motor disorder. To think of CE in such a psycho-social way is to open the door to all sorts of insights and analyses denied by the usual understanding that ‘CE is a form of therapy’.

FCU raises the sights higher still, introducing the notion of CE as family therapy. Again, this opens windows to new ways of thinking, and practice.

FCU explicitly extends conductive pedagogy in two potential dimensions:
  • vertically, to incorporate long-term involvement in people’s lives, by different means.
  • horizontally, to involve everyone and every activity in the child’s or client’s world
None of this precludes traditional conductive work in ‘groups’ (what Karóly Ákos used to describe as ‘institutional Conductive Education’) but rather offers such work new strategic purpose within a broader developmental whole.

Nothing new under the sun

There is no reason to suppose that FCU is a unique formulation. As far as I know, however, it has not previously been described in this form (the book Dina, though, could be read in this way).

Individuals or conductors who work in this way yet have not described what they have done. This has done a disservice both to their own hard work and to Conductive Education as a whole (it is not too late to remedy this!).

Practice model, business model

There seems no a priori reason for Conductive Education to be offered only by centres and associations. Indeed, FCU can offering much needed long-term purpose and educational-developmental legitimacy to fragmentary experiences of conductive pedagogy (camps and other kinds of ‘blocks’, sessions, part-time attendance and even school terms).  Serious consideration of FCU might be therefore thought a priority, not least in its potential contribution to effective dynamic inclusion services and their possible economic advantages for everyone involved. It might at least be interesting to try a comparative costing, to include capital as well as concurrant costs over the course of a year.

Maybe FCU has been analysed and described somewhere. If so, this should not be kept private. We should be hearing about its different manifestations.

Susie Mallet has achieved necessary flexibility for her practice at the cost of a certain economic precariousness. Individual conductors around the world seem increasingly to be seeing attractions in this way of working, or are faced with harsh financial necessities that offer nooption. Again, we should hear more of what has already been experienced in creating other FCUs


What do conductors think of what Susie Mallett has described?. What do centre-managers think? Most importantly, what about the punters, families of disabled children and adults? What is attractive about this model, and what’s problematical from the point of view of service-users?

After all, fundamental to this practice-model is the primacy of consumer-choice and the corresponding necessity of adapting services to meet this.

FCU will not solve the present problems within Conductive Education but it may have an important contribution to make nevertheless. On its own it may not have much to offer as social policy but it could serve a wider purpose as part of the now very much needed public re-presentation (the ’rebranding’) of the potential ways and benefits of the conductive approach in the twenty-first century.


Mallett, S. (2009) Questions of conductive upbringing, Conductor, 2 June

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