Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Three in a day

Something has to be done

Yesterday I picked up three pieces of trivial information. If I saw then, then others will have done so too. Probably many did not, but many who looks up “Conductive Education” on the Internet will likely see the same sort of thing sooner or later.

I submit, Me Lud, that there is a lot of exceedingly dodgy information about Conductive Education in the public domain.


From a centre promoting its CE service for children with cerebral palsy:

...your child will participate in aggressive developmentally-appropriate activities throughout the day, such as:
  • muscle stretching exercises
  • motor skill activities
Conductive Education has a reported seventy percent success rate for children with Cerebral Palsy to learn how to walk, not to mention learning how to hold their heads up, how to sit up, how to feed themselves or become toilet trained.

The three to four week program can dramatically improve their motor skills and self esteem, developing self-initiative, problem solving and encouraging greater independence.


A CE service for adults with multiple sclerosis, funded funded by a local association, with Conductive Education listed as one amongst a variety of 'therapies' provided:
  • Swedish massage
  • Indian head massage
  • Crystal healing
  • Reiki
  • Hot stones
  • Sports massage
  • Conductive Education


From some sort of community information blog ('some sort of' because the identity of its authors has been withdrawn). This begins with two prominent quotations, the first of which is::

Cerebral palsy breaks the connection between mind and muscle

I could just about go along with this statement as journalistic metaphor, were it not for what I know follows on from it for those who take it as a statement of reality. Never project forward from metaphor when you have reality as your guide: you may be open yourself to terrible misunderstanding. And here it comes, spot on cue:

The idea is this: if the brain is forced to try, it will find a way to connect mind and muscle

Some may recognise these extracts as being from the commentary of CBS 's 60 Minutes news report from February 2004 (yes, almost six years ago now) that seems to have rather established itself within the canon of Conductive Education in North America and the United States.

What do these exhibits show in common?

At first glance, not a lot:
  • coming from different sides of the Atlantic
  • with focus on adults or children
  • different approaches to presenting Conductive Education.
.But common threads are apparent:
  • CE enthusiastically promoted
  • well-meaning but naive promotions, for naive audiences, but there for everyone to see
  • each account, in its own way, total cobblers.
Nothing new here. This little list merely representative of the confusion and muddle to be found across the Internet). Nothing, moreover, has really has changed over the years in that Conductive Education's problems come not just from enemies but from its friends too. If difference there be, it is that the ever-growing ease of self publishing on the Internet means that more and more such misunderstandings can be broadcast direct.

Whose responsibility?

Yes, of course it is a free world and it is a wonderful thing that within this so many of us live in societies where we can and increasingly do find ways of making our voices heard. Let no one gainsay that.

But vox populi is not necessarily vox Dei. And even if the 'wisdom of the crowd' is just about discernible here, then this goes no further than saying: 'Conductive Education is a good thing'. Once vox populi takes one tiny step beyond this, however, and tries to explain why or how, then the cobblers begin.

It is all very well to respond that 'the people' should study before they speak, and adopt a highly critical stance to everything that they read and write but, hold on, what about those who are paid to do this? The sad fact is that many, many of the 'paid help', in university research departments, in public health and education services, in big charities and small, are as just as uncritical in this as are the punters – and, because they are paid to know better, 'professionals' bear a perhaps greater guilt for the present lamentable situation.

This goes for most conductors too, if one counts not persistently speaking out against misunderstandings wherever it is met as making a significant contribution to the continuation and ossification of people's misunderstandings

What is to be done?

There is no purpose to be served by a league table of blame: what is important is what should be done, now.. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that far more explict critical discusson and better communication about the substance of Conductive Education at the grass-roots level would be an importantl step towards a solution, starting with greater shared awareness between those who pay for services and those who are paid to provide them.

Existing communication is of course varied, some centres and programs being better at this, some worse. Perhaps too CE services in some countries are better than this than are those in some others. I got into terrible hot water for voicing this problem publicly a year or so ago in the United stataed but without frank discussion there is unlikely to emerge any acknowledgement even that there may be a problem – and no problem, no solution!

Banging on again? Just another hackneyed Conductive World hobby-horse? Nothing that those with more important things to do needs worry about?

Three in a day offers no answer to this, though these three were no more than the latest in a long, long line of such examples. If you have read this far, however, please be persuaded that there just might be a problem here (perhaps of course you might already be little sensitised). Where you do notice them them in the future, please consider also that we might all have a responsibility towards creating at least local solutions to this probable, and don't be surprised if lots of well-meaning, sensible people 'outside' might have formed the distinct impression that Conductive Education is off the wall.

This is not the same as being extra-paradigmatic!


dodgy (chiefly Brit.) unsound and and unreliable

Me Lud (Brit.) formal address to a judge in court

cobblers (Brit.) rubbish, nonsense

vox populi, vox Dei (Lat.) the voice of the people is the voice of God

punters (Brit.) someone who pays for a service, a customer

off the wall (Amer.) eccentric, bizarre


  1. There's a coincidence! The bcfamilyca.wordpress blog post that was posted on 12 January is today, 13 January, returning the response: "The authors have deleted this blog. The content is no longer available."

    Wonder who they were?

    Andrew, I hope you've not gone and upset them!!

  2. Heading somewhat off topic ....

    Following your Exhibit 2 link, one learns that "The [conductive education] service is developing in consultation with the National Institute for Conductive Education".

    I'm wondering if the time has come for a discussion on the role and purpose of the National Institute for Conductive Education?

  3. Norman,

    For your first, would that it were always so easy!

    For your second, that is another question of the kind that I am relieved no longer to have to answer.