Sunday, 13 December 2009

Balderdash today – 2

Mud sticks, tosh spreads

I had hoped not to to return to this issue so soon but I have just been alerted to a page on the Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centrer. There, 'listed under 'complimentary therapies', is Conductive Education.

While it is nice to see it listed at all. It less so to see it construed as a therapy, and some of the company that it finds itself among under that rubric. It is more than disappointing, though, to read what the Resource Centre has to tell those who consult it on this topic:

What is Conductive Education?
Conductive education is a system of learning developed by the Hungarian physician Professor Andras Pëto in Budapest, Hungary.
Conductive education was initially developed for the needs of children with cerebral palsy.
Conductive education in its fullest form is a unified system of rehabilitation for people with neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease multiple sclerosis and those who have suffered strokes or head injuries.
Conductive education is a system in its own right. It is not a composite or amalgamation. It is a system of learning that has been developed with groups of individuals with motor disorders.
Conductive education is a learning process, not a treatment or therapy.
Conductive education is a partnership between the educator (the Conductor) and learners to create circumstances for learning.
Conductive education is an all day all life on going learning process.
Conductive education approaches problems of movement as problems of learning.
Conductive education can be directed towards all age groups.
Conductive education  embraces learning and development of movement, speech and mental ability simultaneously, not separately or consecutively.
Conductive education is not a miracle cure. It needs a concentrated effort over a period of time to enable the participants to achieve recognised goals directed by task analysis.
Conductive education is a positive concept that looks for ways in which the individual can develop purposeful movement. It does not have a negative approach where complicated aids and equipment are used to facilitate motor control and stability.
Conductive education uses only simple well-designed, good quality furniture and equipment.
Conductive education has now become established in countries all round the world.

Fourteen points, if I have counted them correctly (not easy on a small screen!). Readers may like to classify these points for themselves. Perhaps the following headings may help, but feel free to add your own:
  • Wrong
  • Requires qualifying
  • Vapid
  • Partially correct
  • Right

Does this list really define Conductive Education?

Then, these specific points right or wrong, ask two questions of this list:
  1. How many of these points are not shared with all sorts of other educational and perhaps even therapeutic approaches (i.e. how is CE distinguished here)?
  2. What essential characteristics are not included here (i.e. has been missed that does distinguish Conductive Education)?
Some people like it

Perhaps I am being unfair but this listing has the look of something arising out of a meeting (or a 'workshop'), convened on the basis that pooling insufficient understandings might lead on to greater understanding.

The list might do nothing to convey the meaning but, when I saw it on the site of the Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre, I experienced that awful creepy feeling of 'déjà vu again'. A quick and possibly partial check finds the following:


None of these Internet pages is dated, as far as I can see, and certainly none is referenced, so there is no way to know who started this hare

Some are embedded into longer lists, weaving even more folklore into the fabric of public understanding.

People must find such a narrative of Conductive Education comforting, undemanding and unthreatening. The story looks as though it has legs, and will run and run.

All this is doubtless and well-meaning. It is also uncritical and ultimately does disservice to Conductive Education, those who ought to know about it, and those who work in it.

What's to do?












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