Friday, 31 December 2010

Conductive World

Immediately foreseeable future

This is Conductive World's final daily posting. Future postings will appear intermittantly, and not too frequently. The likely end-date of Conductive World as a newspaper-style production was first announced a couple of years ago, as then expected economic changes, not least the shift of power from West to East, were suggesting the close of 2010 to mark the end of an era, in CE as in much else, and be a good time to 'move on'. Most unusually, this appears to have been a sound prediction.

Time for everybody, in whatever field, to be considering new roles.

For my own future involvement in Conductive Education, this will probably mean:
  • I shall continue with CE for the time being, not least with Conduction (, to which I hope that I can now direct a little more time. with especial interest in encouraging a new generation to stand forward and bring new hands to the tiller
  • I shall continue to do the same with Conductive Education Presss, and may perhaps bring a couple of little writing projects of my own to fruition
  • Conductive World might still appear, at a much reduced rate, as and when prompted
  • my Facebook page will also continue, again intermittantly, doing whatever it does (I suspect that there is room for development here)
  • there will be Comments to make, on other people's blogs (not to mention responses to make to any Comments that might create discussion on my own
  • a few personal projects, started before Conductive World took over, may also be belatedly completed. I may report on these too
  • I might finish off a few postings started during 2010 (or even before, if I find them!) but for a variety of reasons not finished.
  • possible alternative use for will be explored, and anoraks might be interested to know of, empty  and wondering what it is for!
  • no doubt I shall continue to respond to individual requests and enquiries
  • I also have a mega personal archive to get sorted
Advances (and retrenchments) on such fronts may be notified here from time to time. Some retirement! When will I find time to rearrange my fridge magnets?

A few minor format changes have already begun, though I doubt that most people will have noticed them. There will be more, as the fancy takes There may even be a change in the blog's title.

The age of the blogger

The best stuff on CE on the Internet is now firmly in the hands of the bloggers – but those who take the point position remain very few. It hardly bears thinking about, what would be available on line without them!

Not everything that has appeared on the CE blogosphere is brilliant, and some CE-blogs have not persisted. No matter, this activity is not for everyone, and there is no harm in trying it out then putting it down if it does no suit. As has been demonstrated, one can always pick the activity up again, and blog once more, perhaps in a new way.

For myself, I shall persist in trying to persuade others to give CE-blogging a go... the more the merrier, in whatever langage. If you are one of those whom I have vbeen nagging, then I shall continiue to do this. If I have never mentioned it to you, or if you sit there unknown, perhaps never even having thought till this very instant that you might try, then you willbe all the more welcome. Look out for an announcement soon about an opportunity for non-bloggers to have a try.

Come on in, it's lovely

Cold turkey

And if blogging does suit you, then expect a turbulent relationship with your blog. That is how it has been between myself and Conductive World and I know that other CE-bloggers have their own personal stories. For me, blogging has become addictive.

There is only one way to come off it. Kill the suppliers. After I have posted this final daily item, I shall cut off my major supplier: I shall close down Google Alert.

There is no argument that this will hurt. I have no doubt that friends will keep me appraised of what is going on in the mad, mad, mad, mad world of Conductive Education, and will occasionally slip me a quick fix of news of something spectacular (particularly no doubt something spectacularly awful), if only to see how I react. I shall try to resist, but no doubt I shall sometimes succumb to tempation and sneak a quick one. So it goes...


My readers. You know who you are. I do not

So long, and thanks for all the fish

I do not know who I have been writing Conductive World for, except of course for myself. I guess that this applies to most bloggers, in most fields.

Dear readers, I do not know who you are, or with any degree of precision even where you are. You are my 'dots' on whichever monitoring map I care to use at a given time.

You may see yourself on MapLoco's map at the top of this page. Knock twice on it (sorry, click) and it will open and let you inside. You might find yourself listed there. Or you might not. A funny thing, MapLoco (though it does produce an attractive visual image to head the page).

Or in the left-hand side-bar of this page, you will see a little green symbol for sitemeter. Click on this and it will open up on to a veritable treasure house of data about all you visitors ( I wish that I knew what all this means). You are a little more likely to find yourself here.

But neither will tell me who you are. That would never do!

On Boxing Day I met a young man who started talking to me about some of the things that he had read on Conductive World. He works in no relevant field and has no personal contact with disability. He just keeps an eye on it because he likes some of the stuff that he sees there.

Quite a few of you click across from the routine notifications made on my page on Facebook. I know that because sitemeter tells me so. But it does not tell me who you are. When I had a probem with Facebook a couple of weeks ago, then the number of visits fell a little.

Whe this was fixed they went up again, and in the middle of the Christmas Holidays they are running at eighty-odd a day.

After tomorrow Conductive World will no longer publish daily. Forgive me if that matters to you, but blogging is all rather taking over – and it is not exactly as if I were paid for it! My chance encounter on Boxing Day was an extraorinarily rare event: I met a reader. I have hardly ever met any, and very few write in or post a Comment. Why should they? But this means that, like in a lot of journalism (and that is all that this is, anateur journalism, I kid myself not), one is writing into a void, a great dark empty space from which no feedback emerges. Hardly rewarding and, more important, no way to attune to readers' ears.

All the more thanks then to those 'ususal suspects'who have accompanied and helped me along over the last three or so years. We all know who you are.

Readers, how many are you? I have no idea. Are 80 visits a day 8 people visiting 10 times each? Or 80 people visisting once a day? And the next day, are the 80 people then the same ones back for another dose? Or a wholly new 80? I can think of no intuitive mathemtical model to suggest to me how many people might actually drop in during a week of 80s. Logically somewhere somewhere between 1 and 560. Empirically, I know of a few who visit, including myself, so this raises the lower of these two figures and lowers the upper one.And over the following week...? (All that I say for certain from this paragraph is that this is the only time that I have used numerals within the text of Conductive World in this way)

And what do people make of any of it anyway? I started out so carefully, aiming to write in straightforward, clear sentence structures, using the core vocabulary of some sort of fantasy International English. Gradually, however, my language has become more and more British (British English in fact), riddled with the sort or colloquialisms, achaic usages, idiosycracies and allusions that I enjoy – and the misspellings and typos that I do not. Sorry about all that, folks, but you dots have kept a-comin'.

What do you come for? I do not know. Some of you come for actualities, looking to see what is new when you switch your computers on (I have heard this from several sources) or clicking across from Facebook if you spot something interesting (the word 'jobs' is a never-failing attraction!). Others of you come in for old stuff, often directed here by search engines. Not many, howvever, come from links on the common-or-garden CE sites. Some of these offer their readers some really wierd links, but they rarely provide a link to  Perhaps this site has been seen as a litle too edgy, dodgy even – I do sincerely hope so.

What will happen to my dots now that Conductive World will no longer publish daily. Presumably their numbers will decine. The site will, however, remain open, and perhaps there will be some who will wish to browse its back catalogue (I shall try to make doing this easier when I get round to it). And the search engines will still direct people here. Further, I shall still make the occasional posting when something strikes me a irresistable (though this might be on a rather wider range of topics than hitherto). Inter alia, new postings will still be notified on my Facebook page (and on Twitter at   That most civilised blog, InfoActivo,DefNet, by the Brazilian psychiatrist, Jorge Márcio Pereira de Andrade, might serve as a bit of a model for me in setting off on this course:

Daily blogging has become a bit of an addiction, an obsessive behaviour, and the best way to stop this will surely be – to stop it. Maybe readers will approve. Whoever you are.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Principles, values, articles of faith?

You do not need to be religious

The year 2011 will see worldwide celebration of the 400th Anniversary of theKing James Bible. I do not know what it has done for theology, but it has given us some great language.

I am just closing down ('unsubscribing' – now there's a word that does nothing for the language) my subscription to the online edition of the weekly charities magazine Third Sector.

There was never anything of particular use to me in it since the rag is mainly concerned with easy- and cheap-to-report activities of the bigger charities, the Charity Commission and what central government thinks might be its own political benefit here. The only human interest tended to be the scrabbling (and occasionally the fall) of those who struggle up these entangled greasy poles, and the grunting and the shoving of greedy snouts around a half-empty trough. There was all too much too much about chief executives, finance managers, legal cases, 'leadership', PR, advertising, jobs, a Monopoly-style board game played all to often, it could seem, with other people's money and what had once been other people's dreams.

And not much in the way of shall we say, the theroretical.

Nothing much there either about 'charities' of a medium or small size (i.e. most charities in the country), their concerns,their triumphs and their people. Or what they actually do and want. So no Conductive Education.

Always worth as peep, however, to remind oneof some of the iniquity, cynicism and venality that I have seen exercised in the name of 'charity' over the years, and to have in the back of mind for all those times that I hear some high-minded statement prefixed by something like 'Charities are warning that...'

So, good bye to all that too. Another update that I shall live happily now without (if you wish to follow this for yourself you can do so at:
And what's that to do with the King James Bible?

Not a lot but, as I switched off Third Sector, the following words from the KJB came ineveitably to mind

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
I Corninthians 13:13
When I used to lecture conductor students these three were quite good pegs on which to hang consideration of Conductive Education – indeed consideration of transformative pedagogy and upbringing, even psychology, of any kind.

World Congress Take-away – 4

Time to go and have a Tsin Tao

Something sinister  and a nice excursion

I had previously been to Hong Kong two years ago. While there I had made a small purchase at the North Point branch of Toys 'Я' Us where a very helpful saleslady suggested that I should get a generous deduction if I signed on for a loyalty card – which I did. On getting back to the UK I saw that my card was valid only for in the Pacific Region of Toys 'Я' Us.

My card remained unused in my wallet, amongst all the other unused loyalty cards accumulated over time.

A day after my arrival in Hong Kong at the beginning of this month I received a cheery email from Toys 'Я' Us (Pacific Region) saying that it had not heard from me for some time and I should get round to one of its shops before my card expires.

No sweat. It useful reminder, giving me pretext to take a lovely Sunday morning tram-ride in the rain to a mall by Causeway Bay MTR station. Once out of the tram I had to stumble through one of the truly amazing sites of Hong Kong, the weekly Sunday picnic and mass get-together of Hong Kong's Indonesian maids, thousands and thousands and thousands of them covering every square foot of public space in the public areas around the station. This is of course a very Muslim gathering, specialised shops and take-aways have sprung up to deal with this it, and the air was alive with the most wonderful smells.

There is a similar Sunday gathering towards the other end of the tram-line, this comprising Catholic Philippina maids. Together, what a wonderfull labour pool if anyone takes forward the very obvious notion of training 'conductive maids'.)

Neither of these gatherings was of course in any way sinister. What I did find somewhat creepy, however, was that Toys 'Я' Us should know that I was back in Hong Kong. Ah, the wonders of the Internet! Who else knows what?

I did find the Toys 'Я' Us store, with lots of unfamiliar and interesting Japanese stuff (much of it made in China, of course, like almost everything else in this world) but there was nothing there for me to use my card on. The mall included a coffee bar provided by the Pacific Coffee Company (q.v.), altogether up to standard, and some fascinating and (to me unique) boutique shops.

So, with the bonus of all those cheery Indonesian ladies, thank you to the Pacific Region of Toys 'Я' Us – even if your 'knowing' that I was back in town does rather give me the creeps.

CE's 'wetware problem'

'Wetware' is Nerdspeak for the human factor in communication, neither hardware nor softwear but something even less reliable. I have also heard it described as that part of the system between the keyboard and the seat. If you like to think of it as 'the human factor', this gives an altogether new slant to Mária Hári's little essay.

The wetware problem was graphically illustrated in the World Congress's Social Networking Platform.

The idea for this was originally suggested by Norman Perrin and excellently provided by SAHK. It was a social-networking site for people intending to attend the World Congress. Everyone who registered for the Congress was invited to join, begin discussion of relevant topics, contact other participants etc. It is a common-enough mechanism in other spheres.

I thought that it was a terrific idea and wrote an enthusiatic posting in Conductive World, in which I saw this facilitly rather like the opportunities posed by turning up early for a party:

Unfortunately, the great majority of those who registered for the Congress (more that four-hundred in all, I believe) failed to join up to the Social Networking Platform.

Of those who did, some tried to get 'conversations' going, or joined in ones that they found there, but all too often these were familiar voices (nothing wrong with that, but here was an opportunity for new people to make themselves heard and visible).

I am afraid that my vision of a party was very over-optimistic. People drifted in, found that it was all rather flat, and drifted out again. I am afraid that in the end, for all my initial enthusiasm, I too tip-toed away, a little embarrasses. I know that I was not the only one. Indeed, as the Congress approached, the platform just died.

Why did it fall so flat? Of course language would be a problem for some. I believe that the system used does not support Chinese characters, which eliminated many participants from the word 'go'. And maybe many speakers of Latin-script languages believe themselves obliged to write in English in an 'international' context. They are not. If they do believe this, then they should disembarress themselves immediately of the idea, and post the language of their choice, wherever it may be.

I suspect that this is part of a more fundamental problem, the conference-naivity of so many pf those involved (not their fault, merely an empirical fact):

Perhaps they do not appreciate that a Congress is not just for two or three days, preferably somewhere 'exotic', but a component episode on a continuous process in developing and challenging our collective knowledge. I suspect that the IPA shares this state of bliss – how else, for example, to explain the lack of follow-over from one Congress to the next?

More generally, here as everywhere else, most people in CE do not seem to like expressing (and exposing) themselves and their opinions in a public forum. Why could that be – and what could be done to combat this tendency?

Here's to the next time. SAHK has been keen to maintain this forum on line to provide for some carry-over. I see that this social-networking forum is indeed still up there, but has now been renamed as 'The Post-Congress Social Networting Platform':

If there is indeed to be another World Congress, presently promised to occur in Munich in 2013, then here is a useful mechanism to develop wider consultation, positive criticism and discussion. Starting now.

I see that the German consortium intending to arrange the Eigth Congress has yet to address this matter.

So, ever the optimist, I shall post something SAHK's Post-Congress Social Networking Site, and wait for others to do the same. I shall start with notification of this present post, and hope that this site does not stand thereafter forlorn and unvisited, gathering dust and cobwebs, like Miss Haversham's mansion.

And talking about things German...

Before going to Hong Kong I had been tickled to hear that there would be a German Christmas Market there:

There were lots of Christmas decorations in evidence in Hong Kong but when I tried to find a Christmas Marketi no one had heard of it, and it seemed to have vanished froim the Internet.

I should have thought to consult the URL given in July in Conductive World, which had it pinpointed, and according to which it is still going on!


Why has what goes under the rubric of Conductive Education apparently been so successful in Hong Kong – and now the Mainland? What is it behind the practice in Hong Kong.

'It's the culture' comes the easy reply. You can apparently explain a lot with the phrase 'It's the culture', without really pinpointing what precisely you mean. This is all to easy for the casual visitor to China (and to Hungary, and anyhere else for that matter...). To my shame I wrote it here on Conductive World a few days ago, though I did at least put it in inverted commas to indicate that I was being ironic.

But which culture? 'The Chinese cuture, of course,' comes the reply. But is really it as simple as that? Without denying the possible force of this reply, might there not other cultures at work here too?

So, what other cultures might have been at work in the development of SAHK's system, quite alien to the development of anything that calls itself Conductive Education in the Western world, cultures so established and pervasive that the people in SAHK barely see them as worthy of remark, they are just part of the furniture, yet so unprecedented in the rest of the world of Conductive Education as to be outside many visitors' previous experience?

I refer partiularly to the conjoined cultures of social work and social policy. In my office for years has hung a banner from the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, presented to me in one of those little Chinese ceremonies by a party of visitors from SAHK (there was a time when a such a party came each year, so actually I have more than one of these banners). In Hong Kong, social workers are an important part of SAHK's multidisciplinary staff, and they are represented right to the top of its hierarchy and amonsgt its top advisors. It is hard to think of SAHK's professional compliment without expecting attention to family, family functioning, family welfare and family dynamics.

I also suspect too, from what little I have seen and heard, that a thread that can be traced right back to Marion Fang's time at the London Institute of Eduation, bequeathing a persiting special-education tradition of a kind now extirpated in some parts of the world (in England, for example, the course that Marion attended in London has been long closed, an early casualty of the new ideology. This is not to deny school teachers' involvement in CE programmes in a number of schools and centres across the Western world, but schoolteachers do not equal special education. I am sure that there must be examples of CE's keying into local special education traditions and institutions elsewhere in the world but I have never seen this described. SAHK is, as I understand it, increasingly pressing such integration at the level of training.

And (dare I breathe this?) SAHK has its own psychological service...

It will be fascinating to see how aspects of the Chinese way of life are interwoven with the practice and its provision of upbringing under the auspices of SAHK. But let us not forget that other, professional cultures are also involved, cultures that are rather broader – and more psycho-social – than the usual range of people that might be found dealing together with disabled children and their families in the West.

The Abstract Book

I was going to write some things abouit the Congress's Abstract Book, all 434 pages of it, but Conductive World's sand is fast running out.

I understand that SAHK will not be retaining a stock of these books for sale. I note that the Abstract Book is indeed Supplement no 7 of the Occasional Papers of the International Pető Association. If you want one, I suggest that you write to:

By the way, I see that the IPA is promising a report on the Congress over the course of January:


Conductive World's time is just about up in its preent form. It would be nice perhaps to write about lessons learned, to mention the sheer exuberence and life of Hong Kong society (and of SAHK), and the food and other joys.

And to bemoan that Ivan Sue's post-Congress workshop was not in fact the Congress's opening Plenary Address. I know that he regards himself as a small potato in the great scheme of things (one, I suspect, without whom the Seventh Congress would not have happened as it did). His presentation reviewing what SAHK does is masterful in delivery (not just verbally and visually, but also in how he integtrates the two) – and its content is as gobsmacking as one's first view of the city itself. This was what was needed to kick-start a proper condideration of West meets East.

This is Conductive World's last Chinese take-away. I suppose that it is just about possible that some time there just may some cold left-overs...

Nice one, Anne

Very nice indeed

On Anne Wittig's blog –

Sheoffers atentative framework of what might be useful test of what is, or what is not 'conductive' (whoever does it!).

If not precisely this, then something broadly similar, might be a useful tool for the next generation to develop. Maybe more than one...

World Congress – participants' pix

Any more out there?

Message from the Congress Secretariat –

Dear all delegates,
You are invited to view CE-Congress2010's photo album:
You are encouraged to share your photos with other delegates by uploading them to the “CE Congress 2010 Participants Album”. Please login Google as following account for the upload.
Password: ce2010hk
Thank you.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

'Conductive Education Instructor'

What is this?

This expression seems native and restricted North America – but how common is it? It has been around at least a year or so and was presumably coined in that attempt to find some appellation that might meet wider-spread ackowledgement.

Try it on Google. There seems quite about. Actually, though, much of the current hits are the results from the one mother's extraordinarily wide advertising campaign. For example –

We are seeking a live-in junior Conductive Education instructor. We have an adorable 6-year-old daughter who is making tremendous progress working with a senior Conductive Education Instructor from Hungary. Unfortunately, she lives far away and we can only see her once a week. We are looking for a junior instructor who is willing to learn from her and work with our daughter daily on our home, implementing independence strategies. We seek an energetic, smart, committed individual who wants to be cherished by our family in our amazing home. We are happy to fly this person to us if she does not reside in California. Individuals reply only; no agencies please.

I do not know how far extensively job-seeking conductors look on such sites. She also advertised through Conductive World Jobs.

By the way, I have long been interested in the terms 'senior conductor' and 'junior conductor'. I wonder what they mean.

A response to Chinese Take Away 3

A posting in its own right

Having met a problem in posting a Comment to 'Chinese Take Away 3', Susie Mallett writes –
Don't lose the Chinese
But we Brits already did!
The carnival is over
Yes it feels a bit like it and Christmas came and went soon after, in a flash of anti-climax.
But for me at least the carnival will be revived to go on just a bit longer, I hope that, when I retrieve all the China Daily newspaper snippets and the four written-in-Hong-Kong note books, that are dotted all over the flat, I shall start writing about my experiences and not just illustrating yours!
These papers are all buried under mounds of Christmas wrapping paper, sweet-making ingredients and decorations since I unpacked them.
Is China done?
I spent two weeks in Hong Kong visiting centres, talking to colleagues in the "East" and trying my best to learn about what the Hong Kongers are doing in their own conductive world.
The trip was fascinating and I saw a lot of conductive work in a short time. I hope that I have made contacts with people with whom I shall exchange many ideas until we perhaps meet again in Munich in 2013, if not before and elsewhere.
I do so hope that China is not 'done' for me.
Well in advance of the Congress I decided that I would display the book that I have published as a poster in Hong Kong.
It was impossible to transport boxes full of them in my suitcase, although between the German delgates and myself we did get several copies out to Hong Kong.
I got some very postive responses, especially from the East. I had a few people asking where they could be purchased, some have got back to me in emails, others have just forgotten about it and, like the Congress will, quite soon perhaps, be forgotten by some too.
As you say the social networking site was a good idea but, as relatively few people took part, it was less successful than it could have been.
I, however, will always consider it as being a success as it was through this site that I was able to make the arrangements to take part in an amazing Chinese painting course at Hong Kong Art School. I spent some valuable hours with a paint brush in my hand learning from a Chinese artist, Liu Mangkuan, about the strokes to use for different trees, mountains and flowers. Learning how to mix the ink in the wanted dilution and how to flick the brush to paint a living orchid bloom.
I loved it. It was yet another dream come true, and a taster that I will have to develop now that I am home.
It was also through the site that I was able to make contact with the leader of a pre-Congress workshop that I wished to take part in. This was carried out in Chinese with no translation. Through this contact I was able to establish that I would be welcome there despite the language barrier that in the end turned out not to be a barrier at all. I had guessed that this would be the case, as the language was art.
It was a lovely two hours of peaceful communication in a busy two weeks.
It was a pity that I was unable to share either of these experiences with more than just one person from the West - though several from the East. As you say, the Social Networking Platform was not as successful as it could have been, there were too few people talking to each other.
As for trains and MTR
Yes, I have seen those lovely models. Luckily I did not see them in any shops in Hong Kong, my luggage would have been over the weight limit. I really enjoyed being in the very shiny underground with never-ending carriages that bend here and there like the Very Hungary Caterpillar. Not quite as good as travelling on a double-decker tram with its sign asking passengers not to spit, but a close second!
I look forward to reading the "One that got away!" and Chinese Takeaway number four.

Thanks Susie for such an exensive Comment. Even when I am no longer contributing regularly to Conductive World myself, it would be nice to publish the thoughts of others in this way, from time to time...

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

World Congress take-away 3

A vital message

Especially Hong Kong

The Carnival is over (sorry, the Congress, 'East meets West'). There could now be a danger now that China and the like can now be considered 'done'?  After all, there was no apparent momentum established by the Congress to advance this theme, and no apparent mechanisms to maintain one if there were.

This is a (deliberately) very ethnocentric question. of approaching this matter! Contrariwise, c Turn the question round and ask it from the Eastern point of view. Can the West be nowconsidered as 'done'? Perhaps so.

'The joys of love are fleeting'. Everything passes. Is the game up?

One that got away

I have just remembered that I have not yet published the full text of my Plenary at the Congress,

Patience. I will get here... There will be quite a few left-overs to be served up cold, sometime in the New Year.

Hanukkah and halva

One of the first people I met on my arrival in Hong Kong was Rony Schenker. Most welcome. She gave me a gift-wrapped parcel, pointing out to me that it was 4 December and just into Hannukah.

The parcel contained a box of Israeli halwa, totally different from what goes under the same name on the Subcontinent, and therefore in the English Midlands (a traditional Punjabi dish made with carrots and milk – nice, but nothing like!).

Very welcome indeed. Thank you, Rony. They have all gone now. I had forgotten how much I like them. Now I must find a local source of supply...

You do learn some useful things at international gatherings.

Books? Schmooks

It is not a 'proper conference' with no publishers' books displays.

Probably not the fault of the organiseers. Publishers' first question when approached with a book proposal is 'What is the market?' The sad, honest reponse in the case of Conductive Education is 'There isn't one' – not a commercial one, anyway. Commercial publishers can sense this. Acceptance of this reality is the basic assumption that lies behind Conductive Education Press:

Social Networking Platform

This was a great idea – and turned out a failure. The simple lesson is that the fault lies in the wetware. This is another matter that may (or may not) be returned to some time over 2011:

Last I heard, SAHK was hoping top keep this site going, as a carry over top the Congress to come, if there is one. I suppose that I had better put something up, so as not to be like everyone else!

The Invisible Man

It is a funny feeling, being invisible. People just look straight through you, then walk on by.

I kept on experiencing this with the PAI people. With the exception of Franz, always the gentleman and scholar, and Gabi, who I think of as a very old friend, I might as well not have been there in their visual fields.

I believe that I was not the only one to experience this. It is most unsettling. The PAI people keep themselves kept very much in a bunch and did not look happy bunnies. They looked like people with bigger problems.

Die-cast MTR model trains

I find that MTR offers a whole range of die cast models ifrom its excellent online souvenir shop:

More take-aways?


Another physicist advocates a broader picture

Isn't that what CE is meant to do?

I just stumbled by chance upon the following thought. It came from Murray Gell-Mann, who received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1969 –

Unfortunately, in a great many places in our society, including academia and most bureaucracies, prestige accrues principally to those who study carefully some aspect of a problem, while discussion of the big picture is relegated to cocktail parties. It is of crucial importance that we learn to supplement those specialized studies with what I call a crude look at the whole.

A cogent, effective whole cannot routinely be built from agglomorating chance-assembled parts.

A particular case: the 'multi-disciplinary'

The statement by Murray Gell-Mann quoted above illustrates how the woods-for-the-trees problem, perhaps inevitable from too much bits-and-pieces thinking, is experienced across the whole spectrum of enquiry.

In contemporary practice (not just in rehabilitation by a very long chalk) great respect is frequently expressed for 'multi-', 'trans-' and 'cross-disciplinary' practice. I have never been convinced of fundamental, substantive difference between these It is the 'multi' words that has widest currency, with 'multi-diciplinary' often thrown into documents and discussions as a warm-fuzzy and unquestioned indication of virtue, in all sorts of contexts. Usually a concrete statement of actual mechanisms and advantage would be far more helpful but invocation of multi-disciplinarity all too often seems to require no justification. The agglomerative approach may indeed have its virtues but one would like to hear their being cogently and practically argued, or to see empicrical demonstration of its relatively beneficial outcomes. Perhaps there are those out there who might educate me on this.

What do the Cochrane Reviews say about the outcomes of multidisciplinary interventions in contexts in which Conductive Education might potentially be involved? Not a lot:


One of the great attractions of CE, practically and intellectually, is how it attends to the whole, leaving specifics to a large degree implicit. From the provider's/practioner's point of view, this makes for a job that is do-able. Rom the users' point of view it presents a sittuation that is socially 'natural'.

I contrast this with ever-more detailed attention to nuts and bolts (speech therapists seem particularly adept at such molehill-mountaining), providing detailed knowledge that all too often seems to have nowhere to go. Above all, there is no way of integrating such bits and bobs into a practical, meaningful whole, either with each other or into something wider.

In CE one 'conducts' disfunctional learning/development, i.e. brings it together into a correctly functoning whole through a seemless process of social-psychological transactions. 'Crude' this might be compared with some of the sophistication diected towards answering specific questions, and where it is then it should certainly be improved. In the meantime, one has an interesting choice to make, between:
  • poor examples of an a priori relevant process, and
  • good examples of a poor (and potentially dysfunctionalising) one.
'Disciplines'? 'Multi-'?

'Multidisciplinary' as ideology asserts that it is a good thing to bring all sorts to the developmental party. Whose benefit might this ideology serve to benefit. Cui bono? – now there's an interesting question. This ideology overlaps with another current fad – 'teamwork' – which even HM The Queen was lauding in her Christmas Day radio broadcast this year.

Ideologies offer no stopping and standing back, and certainly no questioning of fundamental and often unspoken tenets. When it comes to 'multi-disciplinarity' in the field of rehailitation, two obvious questions arise, with riders:
  • What 'disciplines' are actually involved?
  • How many does it take to be really 'multi-'?
Ask how many there could or should be.

And then how could such a collection of people possibly communicate to create a coherent understanding of the whole.

Finally, consider specifically and explicitly, what might be lost or gained by dispensing with all these people as the default arrangement, and instead provide primarily according to a unidisciplinary model.

So it goes...

Murray Gell-Mann won his Nobel prize over forty years ago, he made the statement quoted above thirteen years ago. He is, I believe, still alive.

I am saying nothing new here. Nor was he then.

People still carry on doing what they do and saying what they say, regardless. So it goes.

Now there's a matter for future consideration.

Gell-Mann, M. (1997) The simple and the complex, paper presented 'Presentation to Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security', a symposium co-sponsored by NDU and the RAND Corporation, Washington, DC, National Defense University November.

Previous physicist: Richard A.Muller

Monday, 27 December 2010

Cerebral Palsy Research


Mondays for the last couple of years have been enlivened for me, if that is the right word, by arrival of the email edition of the weekly CP Research News, sent out by the Cerebral Palsy Institute, a body established by the Spastic Society of New South Wales (of which it is in fact a division), with the laudable but implausible aim ‘to pursue a cure for cerebral palsy’.

When I had a 'proper job' I used to receive this because I thought that it might be of practical use. It never was and I eventually discontinued it. When I unretired, I resubscribed to see what might be instructive for the wider concerns of the conductive world as a whole. A few things have been, mainly for the light that they have shed on medical and quasi-medical research. These have been duely reported. Most things were not.

This weekly update is provided by an organisation established originally in response to the real-life concerns of parents. I believe that some Aussies have questioned that this is the proper way to spend tthis charity's money. For me this matter falls under the rubric of 'the affairs of the natives' and, in the tradition of old-fashioned British Imperialism, I consider it therefore none of my business. What is a legitimate matter for anyone to feel unease at is the stated aim ‘to pursue a cure for cerebral palsy’.

I should think that it should be more than apparent by now to anyone who skims this week-by-week parade of the world's research into research into cerebral palsy is that, whatever other important function it may fulfil, it will never crack this one...

By the way, I am sure that similar research digests are published for all sorts of conditions amenable to Conductive Education. Life is too short to take in the lot, so I settled on the cerebral-palsy option, as being the priority clinical concern of most people concerned with Conductive Education around the word.

Out with a bang

Now I am retiring again. The final issue of CP Research News for 2010 was sent out last week and, as I do not intend being around so much in 2011, I am unsubscribing this very evening, as soon as I finish this posting.

Thank you, Robyn Cummins for all your hard work. I know that you don't write this stuff, just compile it, so no hard feelings. Let me add that I sincerely do hope that it will bring us all eventually to the answer that you seek. I suspect that tou might find this to be '42', the secret of life, the universe and everything – though even then, when cerebral palsy has been rendered 'curable', I suspect that our universe will still resound with the powerful big-bang echoes of job creation's anchient call to the faithful for prayer –

'More research is needed'.

Good luck, anyway. You provided me a wonderful going-away present, from the world of couln't-make-it-up, and statements-of-the-plain-bleeding-obvious. It is a pleasure to quote in full an item fromthe final issue of the year –

Disabil Rehabil. 2010 Dec 9. [Epub ahead of print]
Mothers of children with cerebral palsy with or without epilepsy: a quality of life perspective
Terra VC, Cysneiros RM, Schwartzman JS, Teixeira MC, Arida RM, Cavalheiro EA, Scorza FA, de Albuquerque M.
Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto,
Departamento de Neurociências e Ciências do Comportamento,
niversidade de São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil.
Purpose. Disability in a child affects not only the child's life but also the family's life. The aim of our study is to verify the quality of life (QOL) of mothers of disabled children with cerebral palsy (CP) with epilepsy compared with non-epilepsy children evaluated in a Brazilian center.
Methods.Thirty mothers of disabled children participated in the study. The control group comprised of 18 healthy mothers of children without disabilities. All mothers agreed to participate in the study. They completed the evaluation forms of the SF-36 health survey, a well-documented, selfadministered QOL scoring system.
Results.The results of our study support the premise that mothers of children with CP, as a group, have poorer QOL than mothers of not disabled children.
Conclusions.We also observed that mothers of children with CP and epilepsy have poorer QOL than mothers of children with CP without epilepsy.

Ho, ho, ho. Have a great 2011.

Earlier posting, along similar lines

This earlier posting included details of how readers might subscribe to CP Research News for themselves.


Help please

I am trying to restore the map at the head of this page to how it used to be, that is displaying visitors solely from the last twenty-four hours.

The site helpfully tells me –

The default map now shows all visitors. To only show the past 24 hours, replace vmap in your code with vm24.
It does not (need I add?) tell me where to find vmap!

Advice/guidance please.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Boxing Day reading

My book of the year

I am foregoing the teenage Jennifer Agutter's waving her red petticoat on the television, in favour of the best book that I have read over 2010, Richard A. Muller's Physics for future presidents: the science behind the headlines.

Wonderul to read some real science. It takes a physicist to avoid reductionism, and to see the moral, social and political dimensions too. Oh, for some real science in CE.

I have no intention to run for anything, other than the bus, but any sensible citizen in a modern liberal democracy should feel obliged to know the sort of things that Professor Muller outlines – and he does this in such a deft and entertaining way.

The main pillar of this book is contained in an aphorism often attributed to Mark Twain but actually coming from the nineteenth-century humourist, Josh Billings –

The trouble with most folks isn't their ignorance. It's knowing so many things that ain't so.

As in so many walks of life, there is an awful lot of this in CE too.

I do wholeheartedly recommend this book – of you can find a copy of it, that is. In the UK anyway, it has been a sell-out. The book was first published two years ago but renenewd interest may have been spurred by attention on BBC Radio 4's More or less on 12 December. By the afternoon of Christmas Eve, only two copies were left in all the branches of Waterstone's bookshops, across the whole of central London, at Greenwich and Piccadilly. Mine is the Picadilly one. Thank you Ben and Becca for getting it.


Muller, R. A. (2008) Physics for future presidents: the science behind the headlines, New York and London, Norton

World Congress – absent

Who was missing?
What did I miss?

Things are defined not just by what they are but by what they are not.

The International Pető Association provided no 'List of Participants' in the the Congress bag, a major omission for a Congress with academic/professional aspirations.

The following is therefore based solely upon my visual and social participant observations. I cannot cross-check these – nor can anybody else – the basis of my critical remark in the previous sentence.

Who was missing?

To a considerable degree, the parents of disabled children, disabled adults, and their families and carers. There were a few, which merely served to emphasise how few there were – but no disabled children were to be seen. If there are to be further such Congresses, this is something to be considered very seriously by whoever is responsible.

This is not, however, the sole point here. What was missing from this 'World Congress' was... er, the world.

World Congress: what world?

There were plenty of people from China, South East Asia and the Western Pacific. There were plenty of 'Europeans' (including here Americans, Aussies, Israelis etc.) but where were folk from the rest of the world?

OK, most of them cannot afford Conductive Education in the first place, and even if they could they would hardly afford to attend a World Congress. So, at a descriptive, empirical level, the composition of the World Congress fairly represented the world of Conductive Education as it is. So that's all right then? 

How depressingly non-conductive, vision-free an interpretation.


At the geo-political level, the immediately forseeable future may lie increasingly in the hands of Brazil, Russia, India and China, in all things.

China was certainly at the World Congress, in spades. I have no idea what Chinese participants (and those from South East Asia and the Western Pacific) learned there about developing their own services for disabled children and their fanilies. I suspect it was that there is a lot to learn from SAHK in Hong Kong, and that SAHK has the desire and the mechanisms to help.

I suspect also that they found little or none of this from the 'Europeans'.

China is the 'C' in BRIC .

As far as I could tell there was nobody at the Congress from Brazil, Russia or India.

What path will these mighty nations take towards Condutive Education? Or will they even bother?

And others?

Here is where a particpant list to trawl throgh would be really useful. Who was there, from where? What individuals to be identified and nourished?

I was lucky to meet wonderful people from Mexico (or rather they came and hunted me down), and to hear a wholly new and revolutionary models for how CE might be advanced in Latin America.

Who else did I miss?


An unexpected Christmas present

On 7 November, on hearing of the death of Masanao Murai, Conductive World published an item called 'Conductive Education and Japan'.

(For the benefit of Google etc., that's わらしべ会).

On 20 November, János Buronyi, General Editor of the students' newspaper at the Pető Institute in Budapest, emailed me to ask whether he might republish the item. I agreed, of course – quite an acolade to be asked.

Just a few hours ago, late in the evening of Christmas day (later still for him!), János emailed again – to thank me and provide a link for my article, now translated into Hungarian by Auer Mira:

Lead article for the issue – an even bigger acolade!

Here is the pull-quote that János used to flag the article –

Az emberek gyakran kérdezik tőlem, hogy lehet, hogy Hári Mária elfogadó volt, együttműködő, egy kivétellel talán velem a legjobban. Az egy kivétel Murai Masanao volt. Őt is nagyon kedvelte...

This newsletter is a substantial production, twenty pages in all. I am sure that many readers of Conductive World will find plenty of interest there.

Full bibliographic reference

Sutton, A. (2010) Jápan és a konduktiv nevelés: Murai Masanao emlékére, MPENNA: MPANNI Hallgatói Lap, vol. 2, no 4, November, pp. 4-5

Truth to tell, I am not altogether certain of this, especially with reference to the issue number '4': guidance/correction would be appreciated.

Saturday, 25 December 2010


You're welcome

Thank to all those who have sent seasonal greetings – they are all most welcome and sincerely reciprocated.

Forgive if I single out one for particular mention.

Thank you and my very best, Reuven Feuerstein.

And aghast

And thank you too, Rowena Somogyváry, for knowing how I would appreciate this:

I am sure that others will too.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Back on Facebook

Thank you, Norman, thank you Marika
(I sound like Rabbi Lionel Blue)

When earlier this month Facebook changed its format I could not work out how to make new postings and could therefore no longer routinely notify new postings from Conductive World there

Norman Perrin pointed a way –

At the top of the page are 4 words - Status, Photo, Link and Video
Click on Status and the box you are looking for will appear.

It works, and I am now catching up on my backlist, with an immediate surge in visits – and a nice status comment from Marika Kalanges in San Diego to say that she had been wondering what had happened to me, and that it was good to know that I am well. Thank you Marika.

Lesson to other CE-bloggers: it pays to use Facebook.

Conductive World on Facebook

Chinese takeaway – 2

More snacks
More main courses still to come!

An informal presentation

Hong Kong has a Disneyland, on Lantao Island. I did not go.

On the windy upper terrace around the Big Buddha, also on Lantao, a group of friends, former collegues, made me a souvenir-presentation: a Mickey Mouse key-ring.

I have in my office a small Mickey Mouse puppet, a visual aid that I used to use when I helped train conductors. I would fish it out each year, in conjunction with showing students the passage from the film Fantasia in which Mickey is a sorcerer's apprentice:

So, if I have one in my office, what to do with this one? I certainly do not need any more key fobs in my pockets! Answer: remove the keyring and its chain, affix an inch or so of adhesive magnetic tape to the back – and ecce, a fridge magnet.

As for our little ceremony, none of us could really enact this as we had seen done at the Congress, but no doubt there will be a picture somewhere to tell the story better than my words can.

What's in a name?

A lady selling calligraphies to Western tourists in Stanley Market assured me that my name 'Andrew', when rendered into Chinese characters, means 'Peaceful ancester'.

Yes, of course I was suckered.

In the original Greek the word means 'virile' or 'manly'.

I can think of nothing further to say about any of this.

Watch out – stereotype about

A nice watch store in Stanley Market and a very pleasant lady vendor (aren't they all?).

Attractive wrist watches with a wagging hand on the face. An ideal present to take back with me. Two designs:
  • Mickey Mouse – enough already
  • Mao Zedong (Mao Tse Tung, as we used to say) – how the mighty have fallen: take heed all ye great ones and despair
It just had to be Mao.

'Very good watch,' said the lady, 'Chinese, Japanese mechanism'. What a clincher. Into a nice sparkly, red-and-gold bag went Mao, wagging away furiously.

Last night, got him out to wrap.

Guess what!

Public transport

For years I have said that BKV, the Budapest transport system. must be the best in the world.

Forget it, surely nothing can compete with Hong Kong's MTS.

What to pick out? A few specific favourites:
  • the old double-decker trams, doing sterling service still and, given the unsentimentality of how HK is planned and run, presumably still doing it this better than could modern replacements
  • the Airport Express (q.v.)
  • the jolly little local busses
  • the sheer cleanliness and pride of it all
Ultimately, though, it is the comprehensiveness and integration of the system that counts. Here's a personal example. It was late in the evening, and our little party was waiting at a bus stop for the local bus service to take us round Causeway Bay on Lantao Island, to the ferry dock to catch the 2230 ferry back to Hong Kong. Being British, we were ncreasingly anxious that the bus would not come in time, despite what the timetable said. It was already 2225.

'Don't worry,' said our guide and guru Ivan Su, 'the ferry will wait'.

2227: here comes the bus. Ivan is unsurprised, but to us it still looks to be cutting things fine.

There are no private cars allowed on Lantao so the ride arounds the bay takes all of two minutes.

2229: the bus stops in front of the ferry dock.

2230: on the dot, walk on board.

MTR has just celebrated its 100th anniversary. When I arrived in Hong Kong this time, Ivan made me his own informal presentation, a die-cast MTS driving-car (unpowered), of 10mm gauge (!). I have yet had no time to find out more.

And I found my own diecast souvenir of a tram: Stanley market again:L

There's a moral here. Transport services are planned, engineered services. You can learn a lot from them about how systems work, about how the technical, systemic, human factors incvolved have to be joined up and work together. In Hong Kong, trams, ferries, funicular, underground railway (and the airport), all are basically from British days. MTR tells you something, about engineers' being given their head, with service and effectiveness being the prime outcome measure for success rather that the dictates of penny-pinching, bean-counting penury. Once upon a time Britain could do this too.

There something generalisable here, about the primacy of priorities in the public service.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Mission creep

Watch out for it in CE over 2011

One might posit a model for a contradictory, paradoxical dynamic within 'Conductive Education charities':
  • as it gets harder and harder to raise money for CE
  • 'charity' (fundraising) may prove easier for activities more 'saleable' than CE.
  • so more money to 'keep going' → less CE

Say not the struggle naught availeth

Faith restored!

In striking and instructive contrast to yesterday's posting on Conductive World, Rafel Strzałkowski writes out of the blue from Gainesville, Florida, via Facebook –

This is Rafal Strzałkowski.
Back in 2008 you had an entry under the heading 'Only in America?'
Well, today I'm still in America, with my immigration issues only resolved earlier this year. I'm not going to lie – it was a hellish experience. I'm also done with law school and preparing to retake a portion of the bar exam I've failed. I also work for the Jordan Klausner Foundation that offers, you guessed it... Conductive Education. Started by a local professor in memory of his son who had CP like I do, JKF is a tiny charity.
It's my impression that the awareness of what conductive education is and what it does is slim in America, which is why we have the hardest time getting the word out, recruiting donors and kids and it frustrates me. I give speeches, organize events and earlier this year a local magazine chose me as one of Gainesville's 18 most interesting people.
The Foundation is on on Facebook, Twitter and Causes. Our website is if you care for more info. We are running mostly on student volunteers, with our Pető-trained conductor Kata being about the only paid staff member. I decided it wouldn't be fair for me to take money from a struggling organization until it does better.
It's my dream for it to expand into legal services, hippotherapy, hydrotherapy a psychotherapy for families, to kids functional and to make easier on everyone.
Thanks :)

On the contrrary, thank you Rafel. It restores the faith... This is the furnace in which the future of Conductive Education will be forged.

Previous report in Conductive World

Sutton, A. (2008) Only in America? Probably not, Conductive World, 17 May

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


And entitlement


At the World Congress, I was a 'VIP'.

This is a strange term. It is an English abreviation – for 'very important person' – but, at least in the circles that I have moved in, it is little used, except perhaps with a touch of irony.

I am not alone in this understanding  –

very important person an important or influential (and often overbearing) person, dignitary, high muckamuck, high-up, panjandrum, VIP, important person, influential person, personage

By the way, I love that expression 'high muckamuck' (alt. high muckety-muck') I had not come across it before. There can not be many words in English from the Chinook but this is a humdinger, just what is needed:

For the purpose of the Congress, a VIP is what I had to be.

It started before I travelled to Hong Kong, with the Congress Secretariat's wanting to know when I should be arriviing, so that a limousine could pick me up at the airport. My reply, that I did not need a limousine, I would be more than happy to take the MTR airport train to Hong Kong Station, fell on deaf ears. Again I was asked and again I declined. The third time I began to think that I might be appearing a bit odd, or even rude, so I meekly gave my flight number.

Quite nice it was too, being met at the barrier and ushered to a Mercedes + driver. The driver was pleasant and informative and I was delivered to the very door of my hotel. On the way I had a great car-ride into town (over yet another fantastic new bridge, in operation since I was last there a couple of years ago, and past another fantastic new skyscraper, the world's fifth-tallest building now open, said my driver).
But, oh so unnecessary. How much did this add to the Congress budget, I wondered. How many other 'VIPs' might be drawing on this fund? What can this possibly be all about?

Perhaps in the spirit of the age the Congress budget should be open to public scrutuny – either voluntarily or through the good services of Wikileaks.

I stayed on in Hong Kong for a few days after the Congress had packed up and disappeared, and became therefore 'responsible for my own travel arrangements'. So no limo on the way back, but the special shuttle bus from the very door of the Wang Chai Emperor to Hong Kong Station, then the wonderful MTR Airport Express, surely one of the great short railway journeys of the world:

A piviledge indeed. What more could a boy want?

No Doctor

The Congress programme insisted upon listing me as 'Dr'. I have an honorary doctorate of education, and that is very nice, but I would not normally consider it using it good form to preface 'Dr' to my name on this basis. It would not be good form. Indeed, I should regard it as rather naff to do so. As far as I am concerned, just call me 'mister'.

My request was declined and Dr I became for the duration of the Congress.

There were a lot of people deemed Dr, and Professor and Assistant Professor at the Congress, I am sure with far more justification than I.


None of the above are matters that I came into Conductive Education to be involved in. Is this really what Conductive Education is about for those to whom it directly matters? If there is to be another World Congress, perhaps more stringent control could be exercised.  This was another planet. Beam me up, Scottie.
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