Sunday, 22 November 2009


Something of what's out there

Thanks to a helpful comment from Norman Perrin I realised that my first quick snatch at delineating a Conductive Education blogosphere fell far short of complete. An appeal for people to submit what they knew drew the anticipated blank but Norman's comment and my own subsequent (very quick) search of Google Blogs reminds me that there are far more heavens out there than exist in my philosophy!

Plenitude brings its own problems. Here are two:
  • The question of what is and what is not a 'CE blog'. This will need further examination in its own right.
  • Rather easier to answer is the question of blogging in languages other than English. For no reason other than a slip of the pen (actually a mistype, a typo), I started out by looking in Swedish, and came up with immediate gold.

I found the blog of Lars Mullback

For years now, Lars has been a bit of a hero of mine, albeit a distant, mythic one. I have never met him, nor even discussed him with anyone who has, and I have no way of knowing whether he is indeed a prophet in his own land (a sour, grudging, hacked-about Wikipedia article, obviously Swedish-authored, would have it otherwise!). Still, heroes have a higher-order human function that mere facts! Conductive Education, for all its international spread, is a remarkably parochial phenomenon, isolated by country, by language or even just by clique, so I have no great expectations that many of those who read these words may have even heard of him. Hero or otherwise, Conductive Education does not know its own. Paradoxically, despite the real heroism of so many who have struggled for Conductive Education during both the Hungarian and international phases of its development Conductive Education has remarkably few known, shared heroes

A few weeks ago, I have just found, Lars started a blog. This graphically illustrates the two problems of identifying and delineating CE-blogs that I mentioned above, when is a blog a CE blog and what about blogs in other languages.

First, it covers a range of interests of which konduktiv pedagogik (you may see the origin of my typo*) is but one. And it's in Swedish.

Documenting and analysing Conductive Education's place in the world of blogs and bloggers would be a huge task, well suited to a PhD study. I don't need it. But it is worth pausing here to note a few things that Lars wrote in a lengthy posting from a couple of weeks back, and wonder what to make of them:

Perhaps it may seem naïve. I thought that I would be received with open arms when I came back from Hungary and spoke about how I had learned to eat and shower and dress myself, thanks to an alternative (complementary) therapy called conductive pedagogy...

In my naivety I hoped that the multidisciplinary treatment would be happy to get one more tool to help their patients to a better and richer life.... several doctors questioned my credibility and called me a liar, among other things...

It shocked me. At first I thought that it was because the staff were more important than the patients, then I tried the fear-of-change explanatory model, reluctance to innovate and, in dark moments, I thought it was due to pure evil and despotism.

It certainly sounds presumptuous but we helped thousands of Swedish cp-injured children to a better life, with greater mobility and increased self-confidence. When no, actually, no, those who evaluated pedagogy said that I exaggerated or misled them. When most people had paid for the service themselves, often several 100 thousand even though they may receive rehabilitation services free of charge. Then sometimes despair and the belief that society is impossible to change. But it is not.

I met with Nobel Laureate Arvid Carlsson. He said the opposite.

It is very common within the scientific community that the establishment is against and distrusts everything new.

That was his own experience... To my delight was Arvid Carlsson's interest in Conductive Education, the method that I helped to take to Sweden. Unlike paediatric rehabilitation doctors his believe is that it is obvious that the method works...


No, I can't speak Swedish but this is the twenty-first century and I am sitting in front of a computer so I can grasp the gist. All that I had to do was go to Google Translate (any similar sites would have done), rely on the proximity of our two languages, boosted by the sheer familiarity of what he was saying, to bridge some of the linguistic gaps, thinking the while of all those black-and-white Ingmar Bergman films of my youth (or more cheerily, perhaps) the Swedish Chef in Sesame Street.

Towards common fronts?

What did I learn for my pains? At one level, not a lot. But at another level comes the reminder that the struggle for Conductive Education is a world war, in which the thinly spread Conductivist side fights simultaneously on so many fronts, hopelessly defending particular local or other special interests against sometimes terrible odds. It is hardly surprising therefore to see different blogs reporting similar situations and analogous formulations of what is going on. In Lars's specific instance it is strangely comforting to read just how recognisable these are, even in the supposed welfarist paradise of Sweden!

The first point that I raised at the start of this posting involved languages. I hope that I have shown that this need not present and insuperable problem in the twenty-first century. True, where languages face each other across linguistic voids, the results of machine-translation become less and less satisfying., Try machine-translating from Hungarian into... anything! The implications of this point will be returned to in a future posting.

The second point is harder. What is a 'CE-blog'? Quick answer: one that relates exclusively to Conductive Education. Authors have a variety of interests and the very nature of blogging means that they are free to stray into any of them, and do. And Conductive Education anyway intersects with so many other plains of interest. Take just one of these, disabilities, and find very vigorous worlds of blogs and forums, in which outspoken free speech flourishes in ways somewhat outside the general CE tradition! The implications of this point, that the notion of a 'CE-blog' is a false catagory, and an inhibiting one at that, will also be returned to in a future posting.

So will Lars.

Notes and references

Mullback, L. (2009) Varför politik – del 2, behov av eller motstånd till förändring. 5 November

Lars Mulback, Wikipedia

Google Blogs

Google Translate

Swedish Chef

* I had intended searching Google Blogs for konduktiv pedagógia (Hungarian). Instead I mistyped one letter, searching instead for konduktiv pedagogik (Swedish). In the event, a lucky slip!

1 comment:

  1. I met Lars and his wife at the CE World Congress in Göteborg. He was making a film of the Congress. I would like to have seen it. Of course, these days, it is possible to share audio-visual media over the internet.

    Unfortunately, I lost his business card (along with many others) and was not able to stay in touch.

    He was quite inspirational - and I too found the Wikipedia entry unpleasant, even malevolent.

    I hope he reads your posting Andrew and makes contact.