Thursday, 30 July 2009

New Zealand news

A different world, in some respects!

It is now midwinter in the Summer Hemisphere. Just published on line is the ten-page August edition of the Newsletter of the New Zealand Foundation for Conductive Education, the fullest such publication anywhere in the word of CE:

This reminds me that New Zealand schools have just returned from their two-week winter holiday, that they have earthquakes down there and that, not unlike this summer in the Heart of England, it is raining a lot.

More pressingly, the Newsletter devotes considerable and detailed attention to the funding cuts affecting three New Zealand primary-school CE units, and to what is being done to combat these. Some ugly uncaring politics at the national level, by the sound of it. Some tough in-fighting ahead. Good luck to you, Kiwis.

At the more positive levell of the ‘real world’ of Conductive Education, however, the Newsletter reports active work towards further extension of the network, with a facility at an Auckland primary school and extension services for young adults in Christchurch both on the cards. The regular centre-by-centre news update features clients, conductors and other staff. A lot is happening at the grass roots, including now at secondary-school level: food for thought at both levels for conductivists elsewhere in the world, most of whom do not enjoy the benefits of effective national coordination.

Wherever you are, the New Zealand model looks to offer you a useful precedent, then it might prove useful to add to your ammunition a copy of the inexpensive (NZ$ 9.00) promotional DVD advertised on the final page.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Here comes summer

For people in the Northern Hemisphere
Some of them, anyway

The rhythm of the CE year is a strange one, a baroque mix of planned, ad hoc and heritage arrangements. This mix perpetuates practices that have come from other places and other times and at the same time adapts to the exigencies of contemporary expectation, financial shortages and perhaps too changes in ‘the market’ (the conductor-employment market, that is).

This is not necessary a peaceful equilibrium of co-existant forces. It is in no small part a 'human resources’ matter, (industrial relations, if you prefer), often with real conflicts of interest brewing away close beneath the surface. The situation is dynamic, it writhes and changes over the years as these underlying forces force each other into different patterns (hence to speak of the mechanisms of ‘a market’ here, as in other aspects of the provision and availability of conductive services around the world).

There is therefore no consistent pattern in the holiday arrangements (summer or otherwise) of CE centres, their various kinds of staff, not forgetting of course the people who use and often pay for these services. It may depend who you are, where you are, and also upon your role within this system (particularly upon whether you are a service-provider or a service-user). There is certainly no ‘ideal’ to be argued, either a priori or de facto, for what constitutes ’holidays’ within Conductive Education.

Correspondingly, ‘summer’ can also be rather a moveable feast too (a non-existent one, some might protest).

And that is just the situation in the Northern Hemisphere…

Some Hungarian antecedents

The most influential factor in the historical development of the present situation in Conductive Education comes from linking Conductive Education to the rhythm of the school year during that part of its ‘Hungarian period’ during which it existed under the direct control of the Ministry of Education.

It was not ever thus.

When the State Institute was a health institution things were surely rather different. Certainly, András Peto’s personal practice held little space for consideration of people’s szabadság (free time). He did not take holidys, why should anyone else? He did relent over Christmases, but even weekend contact between children and their parents appears to have been granted only with reluctance as being disruptive of his implacable regime.

And as for Mária Hári who followed him (in both senses of the word), never mind what her staff, or the Ministry or anybody else might be doing, she was not until the closing years of her life a szabadság kind of person. Even so, during her watch the State Institute, whatever additional functions it fulfilled, was very much bound to rhythm of the academic year.

For some children at the State Institute there was nowhere else to go. For them, the Institute was ‘home’ (‘a home‘, if you wish). They were de facto orphans and were looked after, brought up at the Institute, by means that I do not know. I have always assumed that there would be conductors involved with them during the school holidays, but I do not know.

As for the rest of the children, under the Ministry of Education the State Institute’s school and kindergarten groups took the normal Hungarian school holidays (and the student conductors followed the semesters appropriate to their college-level training). The non-school provisions (parent and child, ‘consultations’, adults even) appear to have fallen in with this annual rhythm.

Visit the old State Institute during the hot summer months and you would find a small number of live-in children, administrative and maintenance staff, maybe some of the more senior conductors (preparing for the forthcoming academic year), and Mária Hári. I think that I recall that the whole building closed down for a week or two sometime during this time.

I have never seen these holiday arrangements documented in English. No doubt that there are those who can correct, confirm or amend my recollections.

I suspect that the present Pető Institute’s summer employment, for conductors anyway, runs very much along the samelines, with those higher up the tree spending the less time way. Again, please correct me if I am wrong.

Many, perhaps most conductors there, like teachers in many places, enjoyed the benefits of school holidays, especially the long summer holidays. The word ‘enjoy’ here does need qualifying by remembering where this was happening, in Hungary, where for the whole of living memory, under home-grown Stalinism, then ‘Goulash Socialism and on through present- day Capitalism, most people at every level of society have rarely earned enough for a comfortable living from a single income.

The answer is simple, Do a second job alongside. Maybe a third job too. And snatch every opportunity that your working hours allow outside daily work requirements, at weekends, during holiday entitlement, over the course of Hungary’s generous maternity leave, to convert this ‘free time’ into earning time.

A long time ago, a long way away? Perhaps not. All sorts of contradictory social influences have gone towards shaping the spirit, the psyche, the culture of Conductive Education’s front-line workforce, the conductors. No discussion of conductors‘ ‘holidays’ is complete unless this background is at least mentioned, and it may needs a powerful, cohesive host culture, to override it


So, here comes summer. For about a month now, across the Northern Hemisphere, where the great bulk of conductive practice is situated, those CE centres that for all sorts of reasons predicate their yearly rhythm upon local patterns of school terms (semesters) and school holidays (vacations) have been shutting down their conductive practice, while their conductors turn their minds to szabadság.

And good holidays many of them can take, and good luck to them in enjoying the fruits of their labours according to the terms and conditions of service under which they are contracted.

Others, however, within a day or so of closing down their regular year jobs, are jetting of to work for part or all of their vacations, in variously described ‘summer camps’ ‘summer schools’ etc. There are many reasons for doing this but, whatever the reason, it can result is a very long working year.

And some conductors jet nowhere, they just continue providing the range of year-long services that their places or work or personal circumstances dictate.

What about service-users?

Around the world, from the service-users viewpoint, the picture is of course vastly different.

Relatively few places are available in full-time CE centres or programs, so a correspondingly small proportion of children and their families experience Conductive Education on a school-term basis (the precise proportion is unquantifiable, as the data have just not been gathered).

A substantial proportion of ‘Conductive Education’ for children in the Western world has therefore been experienced outside school hours, in the afternoons, at weekends and especially through summer programs. (camps or schools).

Whether such schools or camps are considered a 'holiday', by children, parents or staff presumably depends upon particular personal experiencess and upon personal preference.


Those who work within the system but are neither conductors nor parents, may experience a rather empty building, or even a busier service-provision than at any time of the year.

As for Conductive World, that is linked to no service system, emails slacken off from the middle of July, and the dots on the map at the head of this page become fewer. Whatever people are doing out there, enjoying themselves or working to the point of exhaustion, the world of Conductive Education has ‘gone quiet’ and, barring a catastrophe, can be reasonable expected to remain so till the end of August.

A chance therefore, one hopes, for a little catch-up on Conductive World itself:
  • round off or follow up some items from earlier this year
  • do some much-needed restructuring of the site's format of this site
  • prepare for an extension of web-presence
  • publish some items that are for various reasons simply ‘late’
  • particularly, prepare for publication something of a ’scoop’, a report of some regretful comments by Maria Hari, confided at the very close of her life, about having adopted a too-rigid approach, and what she regarded a better, more flexible way, and
  • keep an eye out for anything worth reporting in the world of Conductive Education, as surly some things will be, summer or not!
There are other things to do. I have been asked to write a couple of articles for ‘real’ magazines, Elliott Clifton is just putting the final production touches to another CE book compiled by Gill Maguire and myself (watch this space for news), Gill, Elliott and I will be putting to bed the final issue of Recent Advances in Conductive Education, and there are other projects in the pipeline.

Get a life!

The month of August may promise great catch-up time but experience shows just what a short month August can be, creating its own bow-wave of un-done tasks to push into September.

Indian summer

I recently told a correspondent that Rule no 1 when publishing a small-scale newsletter or magazine is ‘Never promise anything‘. Rule no 2 is ‘Especially the date when it will appear.’.

This summer, however, I have a very different way of relating to this rule. There will be no 'new term' to serve as deadline and the ’holiday’ stretches into an indeterminate future. There are no longer any work-imposed deadlines. Ever.

Pipped by two rivals!

Three weeks ago I began considering mentions of the general matter of summer holidays in CE and summer plans for Conductive World.

In the event, other things took priority, so these two topics have been combined, missing the end of even the latest school term in the Northern Hemisphere and just managing to scuttle home in time for the end of July.

Meanwhile, both Susie Mallett and Gill Maguire have nipped in first with their own summertime postings

Our friends in the south

In the, to me, topsy-turvy world of the Summer Hemisphere it is now midwinter. Just out on line is the ten-page August edition of the Newsletter of the New Zealand Foundation for Conductive Education, the fullest such publication anywhere in the word of CE:

This reminds me that New Zealand schools have just returned from their two-week winter holiday, that they have earthquakes down there and that, not unlike this summer in the Heart of England, it is raining a lot.

More pressingly, the Newsletter devotes considerable and detailed attention to the funding cuts affecting three New Zealand primary-school CE units, and to what is being done to combat these. Some ugly uncaring politics at the national level, by the sound of it. Some tough in-fighting ahead. Good luck to you, Kiwis.

At the level of the ‘real world’ of Conductive Education, however, the Newsletter reports active work towards further extension of the network, with a facility at an Auckland primary school and extension services for young adults in Christchurch both on the cards. The regular centre-by-centre news update features clients, conductors and other staff. A lot is happening at the grass roots, including now at secondary-school level: food for thought at both levels, for conductivists elsewhere in the world, most of whom do not enjoy the benefits of effective national coordination.

If the New Zealand model looks to offer you a useful precedent, then it might prove useful to obtain a copy of the inexpensive (NZ$ 9.00) promotional DVD advertised on the final page.

Some summer music too

Click on Susie and Gill’s links above and see that they have both rounded off their summer postings with further links to some seasonal music.

I was going to do that, so pipped there too, but not by their choice of records.

Cliff Richard and Mungo Jerry? No thanks. Pleasant enough ditties, I am sure, Susie, evocative enough of their eras but not very robust.

Brian Adams, Beach Boys, Lovin’ Spoonful? Not a world that I ever knew , Gill. You should share some of your memories on your blog, if you can remember them.

Try Eddie Cochrane, Jerry Keller and Billie Holiday

Here come summer (1959)

Summertime blues (1959)

Summertime (1936)
Any other offers?


Is there a widespread market trend here?
A comment about Conductive Education on Facebook earlier this month:

My daughter did 5 weeks of this program in Canada and it was really great, but they work in large groups, I will like to find a place where there is one conductor working with 1 or 2 kids.So I'm looking for options of Conductive Education in other places America,Europe or Australia, does somebody have any idea?

Thank you☆

This is not the first time that I have come across such a sentiment.

Any information? Any comments?

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Jerks, fools and the nice, competant ones

A quiet patch and a chance to continue clearing through some of the mountains of paper accumulated over the years, in the belief that if I kept something then it must have been with the hope of its being of use to someone, some time. Here is a jolly example, taken from a yellowed and water-damaged cutting from the The Times of three years ago (though of course available to readers of Conductive World now pristine fresh through the Internet archive).

It comes from the (usually) excellent weekly column 'Science Notebook', by Anjana Ahuja.

I cut it out because three years ago I still maintained an interest in the internal workings of organisations.

Ms Ahuja was reporting on a paper by Tiziana Casciaro and Miguel Sousa Lobo, then recently published in the Harvard Business Review. Surprise, surprise, the HBR is not an open-source journal, though it does provide the opening page of the article as a taster!

Pulling together or pulling apart?

The authors were concerned with how organisations fragmentise into 'silos of specialized knowledge and activity'. Even three years ago it was 'an understatement to say that resolving this tension is crucial to success in today’s knowledge-based and collaborative business environment'. They then posed some questions familiar even to people who work in small organisations.

  • How do you ensure that relevant information gets transferred between two parts of an organization that have different cultures?
  • How do you encourage people from units competing for scarce corporate resources to work together?
  • How do you see to it that the value of a cross-functional team is more, not less, than the sum of its parts?
They posited that answers lie not in organizational charts, more in understanding informal social networks and how these emerge.

Their article was concerned with one aspect of processes involved it this.

Four archetypes

The authors posited four archetypes, based upon the assumption that most people will chose whom they prefer to work with on two bases: competence (Does she know what she’s doing?) and likability and competence (Is she enjoyable to work with?).

Archetypes, caricatures, yes, but most people do seem to be able to fit most of their colleagues into one of four boxes.

Try it for yourself:

  • the competent jerk, who knows a lot but is unpleasant to deal with;
  • the lovable fool, who doesn’t know much but is a delight to have around;
  • the lovable star, who’s both smart and likable; and
  • the incompetent jerk, who…well, that’s self-explanatory.

The authors did, within four organisations selected for variability, profit and nonprofit, large and small, North American and European.

Our research showed (not surprisingly) that, no matter what kind of organization we studied, everybody wanted to work with the lovable star, and nobody wanted to work with the incompetent jerk. Things got a lot more interesting, though, when people faced the choice between competent jerks and lovable fools.

At this point the free read on the HBR website runs dry, but Anjana Ahuja has summarised some salient points.

'When it came to deciding between a competent jerk and a lovable fool, ' she wrote, 'the management mantra that ability trumps personality was not borne out' quoting Casciaro and Lobo:

We found that if someone is strongly disliked, it’s almost irrelevant whether or not she is competent; people won’t want to work with her anyway. By contrast, if someone is liked, colleagues will seek out every little bit of competence.

It may not always be unprofessional to favour the jester over the jerk, she continued, ' Brainstorming and similar interactions might be difficult and unproductive with a jerk; he may discover your weaknesses and use them against you.

'What of the competent jerk?' she conclused,' Try shifting him to a more independent role, where he won’t annoy colleagues. Consider discussing, tactfully, his social skills at his annual appraisal. Lastly, embrace the lovable fool. Turn such people into “affective hubs” — chain them to the water cooler so they can bridge gaps between disparate departments. After all, those likeable idiots might just be your company’s best asset.'

Conductive Education today

Today's CE organisations are often operating very close to the brink and need every bit of edge that they can muster to stay in the game. The interesting insights offered three years ago by Casciaro and Lobo solve nobody's problems but they do give cause for thought.

Draw yourself a simple 2 x 2 matrix and put in a few names...


Ahuja A. (2005) Sits vac: likable idiot wanted. Apply now near the water cooler, The Times,27 June
It seems that even Times on Line can have the same problems over font size and paragraph spacing lurking within its system as does Conductive World. I suppose that there's some comfort there!

Casciaro, T., Lobo, M. S. (2005) Competent Jerks, Lovable Fools, and the Formation of Social Networks, Harvard Business Review, June

Monday, 27 July 2009

So you want Conductive Education to be a therapy


A 'said therapy' is a sad therapy

So you want Conductive Education to be a 'therapy'. You want to talk about it and think about it, and act, as if it were?

If that is your judgement then that is your choice. Go ahead and do so. It's free world.
  • You can talk about Conductive Education as a therapy or a treatment
  • You can think about is in the same way
  • You can advance brain-based explanations of the processes involved in Conducive Education
  • You can take part in practical activities (as service-users, conductors or providers/funders) that as it were dispense 'doses' of conductive programs
  • You can bury or dissolve conductive practice in, or under, 'multidisciplinary teams
  • You can even place it under 'medical direction'
  • You can struggle to get Conductive Education funded through heath insurance schemes or by state health-care systems
  • You can implement further medical-style comparative outcome evaluations to answer the question of whether Conductive Education 'works'
Just don't be too disappointed if you do not achieve every thing that you would like to from all this. Don't even be surprised if the cause of Conductive Education makes little or no advance at all. You are not the first to try this road. Large numbers of people have been doing these things for years.

If these are the rules that you wish to play by, however, do also recognise that if you are ever to have the slendrest chance of winning according to the rules of the therapy game you must meet the criteria and requirements that you will meet there, and accept the consequences of failing to do so.

If you really want Conductive Education to be a 'therapy' or a 'treatment', here is a just-published example of what awaits you.

The US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) defines CAM as "a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine." The problem with said therapies is that, for the most part, their effectiveness is questionable and their side effect profile is essentially unknown. Furthermore, as stated by Rosenbaum, many CAM treatments are based on "at best, anecdotal evidence and at times rather unusual ideas about the biology of the conditions to which they are being applied." In spite of the data shortage, Americans are forecasted to spend more than $42 billion on CAM during 2009. Using a patient for illustration purposes, the author presents 3 CAM treatments that have been advocated for children with cerebral palsy. The current scientific literature on these remedies and their purported benefit is reviewed. The article ends with a discussion on the reasons why prescribing said therapies is contrary to the concept of evidence-based medicine and the tenets of medical ethics.

This is the formal published abstract of an article by Pedro Weisleder in this month's Clinical Pediatrics. This is not an open-source journal and Conductive World has no resources to access the original article. Can anyone oblige? It would be very interesting to know whether Conductive Education has landed itself in the basket of three 'said therapies' that the reviewer has examined in his single-case study.

No matter either way, look at the two concluding sentences:

The current scientific literature on these remedies and their purported benefit is reviewed. The article ends with a discussion on the reasons why prescribing said therapies is contrary to the concept of evidence-based medicine and the tenets of medical ethics.

Think what you like about the current concept of 'evidence-based medicine' there are plenty of people in and out of medicine who have no doubts about it whatsoever, and may be equally at ease with conflating 'evidence-based' and 'medical ethics'. Maybe it is right and reasonable to do so; maybe not. If you want to Conductive Education to be a therapy, then good luck in that discussion too. You will find it a tough one.

Feel free

Yes, it is a free world, one in which I defend your right to hold and express your own opinion, even though that opinion has done such harm to the cause of Conductive Education (and quite possibly may do so to your own personal cause too). It has set back a cause that should be benefiting uncountable numbers of disabled children and adults, their families and carers around the world, now and in the future.

Sets it back? It potentially wrecks it!

And at the individual level, so much wasted money, so much misguided hope and energy, so much disappointment, so much self-inflicted burden when there is already difficulty enough in life.

So I also reserve my own right to combat such erroneous thinking, wherever I find it conflicting with my own interests as an advocate of the cause of Conductive Education.
Wise up

Please count me out of discussing Conductive Education as as therapy, as a matter for medical evaluation, or as a topic for medical ethics (other than over the wider question of medicine's trespassing outside its field of competence).

Count me amongst those whose interest is in conductive pedagogy/conductive upbringing, what has been recently discussed on the Conductive Education blogosphere as 'Conductive EDUCATION'.
  • You can talk about Conductive Education as a pedagogy or an upbringing
  • You can think about it in the same way
  • You can advance social-psychological explanations of the processes involved in Conducive Education
  • You can take part in practical activities (as service-users, conductors or providers/funders) that are part of wider educational processes
  • You can integrate conductive practice into the life of families and the life of school
  • You can place it under 'education' where it belongs
  • You can struggle to get Conductive Education funded as part of the universal entitlement to proper education
  • You can implement appropriate educational research to answer proper educational questions, about how it works, what it does, how this might be improved etc...

You can also have ethical discussions, at an appropriate level.


And with these ways of thinking and acting are firmly in place, then we can look again at questions of 'therapy', in an altogether new light.


Weisleder, P., (2009) Unethical prescriptions: alternative therapies for children with cerebral palsy. Clinical Pediatrics (e-publication ahead of print)

* With me or against me?

NHS Choices

Cerebral palsy

Why do I find this video so extraordinarily irritating?

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

That Chinese puzzle again

What is being done, and to whom...?


The Good Rock Foundation was established in 1997 It is a humanitarian aid foundation which believes that every child is precious and deserves to have a life of hope and opportunity. China's special situation and a cultural preference for boys has led to abandonment of girl children and those with disabilities.

The Good Rock Foundation is working with China's social services to improve child welfare policy, focusing upon Xinjiang, one of China's poorer provinces, and upon the most marginalised children there, those in orphanages.

The Foundation is based in the UK and Hong Kong. In Xinjiang it provides 'Conductive Education'.

What is provided in Xinjiang?

Therapy & Mobility the miracle of conductive education

Step by Step

Conductive education (c/e) is a form of physical therapy that consists of simple repetitive exercises & therapy along with persistent stimulation & encouragement. This treatment works miracles with children who are challenged with cerebral palsy & other special needs where the muscles are frozen or spastic.

We have been helping Xinjiang orphanages implement c/e since the year 2000 and orphanage workers readily embraced the concepts. The children's carers are keen to increase their skills & pass on this knowledge to their colleagues. The results are so encouraging....Many children can now sit, stand, feed & dress themselves, grasp toys & write......children who might never have walked can.

Because c/e is low tech & requires only a few simple pieces of equipment & is easily passed on we know that it is feasible that we can reach many more of the needy children in Xinjiang, not only those in orphanages but those in poor families too.

As well as the conductive education training we are also investing many resources for training caregivers in special education, occupational therapy and child development. We bring experts to Xinjiang and also send caregivers to inner China where other organisations hold training conferences.

So what used the orphanages to be like before 2000, how has life there changed for the children and how have the children's experiences and beings changed since then too. What is new for the children, and what is no longer done?

What might be the active agents behind changes achieved? What is it that is actually done in the name of Conductive Education and is this necessarily an active agent in the changes experienced?

Confounding variables

To raise such questions is neither to disbelieve the outcomes nor to disrespect the hard work and good heart involved.

Not knowing specifically the children’s situations prior to intervention (though having grounds to suspect that these may have been direly anti-developmental), one can but raise the possibility that benefits experienced reflect more fundamental change in circumstances that those provided by specific practices, whatever these might be.

As far as the children are concerned (and their families if they have any) such benefits are all to the good, whatever it is that has brought them about.

‘Conductive Education’ is how this work is referred to when reported in English. At one level, if new people, new ideas, new goals, set the children's development back on course, then why cavil at what the work is called and what specifics are imported into the children's lives along with the name

Because they might be doing something better, more relevant, more effective, be this 'conductive' in nature or some other approach that is perhaps more suited to the circumstances. For the moment one can only rejoice at the positive change experienced. In the longer term, however, questions remain of what is actually done and what are the actual active ingredients in such interventions (Sutton, 1977). Once the base level of children improves the pedagogic task will become the harder and these questions will be inevitably raised more pressingly.


Good Rock Foundation (2009) Therapy & Mobility the miracle of conductive education

Sutton, A. (1977) Acupuncture and Deaf-Mutism—an essay in cross-cultural defectology, Educational Studies, vol. 3, no 1, pp. 1-10

Ireland: continuing confusion

North and South

Some six weeks ago Conductive World remarked upon the unthinking hypocrisy of the UK state when it comes to honoring Conductive Education's campaigners and pioneers whilst at the same time turning its back obdurately to the very thing that those campaigners and pioneers are fighting for (Sutton, 2009a).

This has now been evidenced next door in the Irish Republic.

Terence Charles from Florencecourt (not in the Republic but in Northern Ireland) has met President Mary McAleese, President of the Irish Republic, at a garden party at her Dublin residence in recognition of the work that he does, advocating Conductive Education and the Buddy Bear Trust (also in Northern Ireland).

You would be hard put to find a state more inhospitable to establishing CE services than the Irish Republic (though Northern Ireland would run it a very close second).

He'll be lucky

Terence as reported as saying, following the garden party:

...the Irish Government has now given an undertaking to open a new [Conductive Education]school in Dundalk.

This seems on the face of it somewhat unlikely since events in Dundalk, when last heard of a month ago, were still at the parent-awareness level (Sutton, 2009b), and such schools in the Republic are not provided directly by government anyway.

Still, the luck of the Irish is proverbial.


-- (2009) Terence's work recognised by Irish President, Fermanagh Herald, 21 July

Sutton, A. (2009a) Ireland: a fresh try, Conductive World, 15 June 2009

Sutton, A. (2009b) State response to CE in the UK: inconsistent or what, Conductive World, 13 June 2009

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Spain: a lost world

Time to rediscover it

Anita Loring's involvement with the internationalisation of Conductive Education, within the framework of the global network of organisations concerned with the cerebral palsiesm stretches back longer, I suspect, than that of any living soul. For much of that time she was Secretary General of International Cerebral Palsy Society. She keeps her ear close to the ground.

A question

Yesterday she emailed me to draw attention to an interesting contibution to the prestigeous conference programme to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the CDI (Cercle de Documentation et d’Information pour la rééducation des infirmes moteurs cérébraux) on 7-9 December, in Paris.

She asked whether I might be able to shed light on a presentation tucked away at the end of the very last session of this conference:
Principles of Petö’s method. Particular rules applied at ASPACE-NAVARRA
Mrs Maria BELZUNCE. Pamplona, Spain
This is of course interesting information in its own right. It is pleasing to see Conductive Education getting a look-in at one major European Conference this year, all the more so for this presentation's not coming from one of the usual suspects. Fresh voices and fresh interpretations are never more welcome than at this time.

What intrigued Anita, however, who knows something of the fate of the short-lived project to train conductors and develop an Instituto Español de Educación Conductiva in Pamplona, under the auspices of ASPACE, the major service-proviser for disabled people in Navarre, was whether this forthcoming conference presentation signifies that the 'Instituto Petö' is recommencing operations.

Towards an answer

I have heard nothing about a rebirth of the Pamplona project and, falling back on the Internet, I find the old website of the Instituto Español, and also old lots of old pages on the much publicised circumstances of its demise.

I find that Dña. María Belzunce had taught on the conductor-training course at Navarre Public University and served as director of the Instituto Español de Educación Conductiva.

I also find that in November 2008 she presented at an international conference in Andalusia, the programme of which reads:
Acercamiento al Método PETÖ como sistema global de neurorehabilitación infantil
Dña. Maria Belzunce Alonso. Directora del Servicio de Educación Conductiva Método-Petö de Aspace-Navarra. España)

The name 'Institute', I note, has given way to 'Service'.

She also seems to be with the Centro Especializado de Neuro-Rehabilitación in Pamplona. This to is also an agency of the ASPACE Foundation but I do not how it relates to the Servicio de Educación Conductiva.

Time for a closer look

Anita's enquiry has served as timely reminder that Conductive World, along with most of the rest of the world of Conductive Education, has been guilty of rather ignoring what has been happening in Spain.
  • There has been the Instituto Español and the conductor-training course in Pamplona, both now defunct.
  • The Instituto has been succeeded by the Servicio de Educación Conductiva.
  • There has been formal evaluation (Larumbe and Fernández, 2007).
  • There is the Valencia project in collaboration with Moira.
Who knows what else besides.

December's presentation in Paris looks more intruiging than ever.

Time to write and ask...

Notes and reference

50th Anniversary Conference of CDI

Formal inauguration of the Spanish training course

Instituto Español de Educación Conductiva

Conference in Andalucia, 26 November 2008

Valencia project

Larumbe Ilundáin R., Fernández Fernández R. (2007) Evaluación de un programa intensivo
de Educación Conductiva dirigido a niños con Parálisis Cerebral (Evaluation of an intensive program of Conductive Education in children with cerebral palsy), Mapfre Medicina, vol. 18, no 2, pp.134-143

Monday, 20 July 2009

So no problem there, then

Smiles all round in New Zealand...

Big smiles in the photo that heads today's (tomorrow's) news report by John Gibbs in the Otago Daily Times, under the headline 'Minister reassuring on special needs'.


Read the following extract right through, to is bitter end.

Parents and teachers have nothing to fear from a planned review of special education, and it is not a cost-cutting exercise, Associate Education Minister Heather Roy says.

Mrs Roy, who has ministerial responsibility for children with special needs, visited several Dunedin schools yesterday.

Overall funding for special needs education was increased in the Budget, with $51 million extra being provided for the Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme (ORRS) between this month and mid-2012, Mrs Roy noted recently.

The Government provided about $450 million a year for special needs education and the review would consider whether the money was being well spent and "to make sure that the children who need the funding are able to access it", she said in an interview.

Asked about criticism of some recently announced changes in special needs education, she said some funding for conductive education programmes was being ended this year, on equity grounds.

Nevertheless, overall national funding for special needs education had been increased, she said.

So that's all right then.


Gibbs, J. (2009) Minister reassuring over special needs, Otago Daily Times, 21 July

CE and the parent-child dyad

Nice small-scale study by conductor

Recent discussions in Conductive World have raised the question of the sort of small-grained studies that lone conductors might successfully undertake.

Here is a very recent example of potentially impactful findings from just such a study, taken from the Abstract of an dissertation successfully submitted as part requirement of an MA in Childhood and Education at the University of Warwick, by Wendy Baker of NICE.

Through a qualitative case-study approach, using multiple data-gathering measures, the researcher has studied interactions between parents and their very young children with motor disabilities, to determine how interactions are affected by the children's motor disabilities, how conductors can enhance dyadic interactions and the impact that subsequent improved relationships can have on the children's development and learning.

A survey of parents' views, detailed observations and interviews with parents and the conductor working with the children have provided data which have been integrated to draw conclusions about dyadic interactions and the part CE can play in motor disabled children's learning and development. From the experiential research conducted it was concluded that dyadic interactions can be developed through CE and that enhanced interactions can have a positive effort on motor disabled children's development and learning.

These findings are potentially impactful because the empirical work that Wendy reports that draws upon published theoretical positions from both within Conductive Education and without. Further, they suggest that elaboration of this line of investigation could be a possibly fruitful direction for futher academic research in this field.

Most importantly, Wendy now intends to publish her findings in academic/professional journals of an appropriate level for their further dissemination in the field of early child development.


Baker, W. (2009) Developing interactions between parents and their young motor disabled children through Conductive Education, Unpublished dissertation, University of Warwick
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