Friday, 12 March 2010

Look on the sunny side

Always on the sunny side?

Further to yesterdays's posting on Conductive World, Susie Mallett writes

Most people who work in the conductive world know that centres offer all kinds of different forms of what is referred to as many things: "Conductive Education", "Petö therapy", just "Petö", or an array of other names.

The customers know this too.

Rarely is it offered with the name Conductive "Nevélés", sometimes perhaps it is offered as upbringing but with a different name. In many places I know that "it" is a centre where some parents think they can happily drop off children for a few hours, with the "knowledge" that something will be done to them, or even with them. These parents are happy to have some time to themselves: they do not wish to know more, usually because they have no idea that there is more to know.

Instead of complaining about how the conductive world is in such a sorry state, surely it is better for readers to hear about good examples of practice so that they know what they should be getting for their money, or even demanding for their money. We must never forget that they are our customers.

As Vikki says it is no fault of the parents what they think "CE", "Petö", "Conductive Upbringing" is.

They only know what they have been told or have read.

Just negative tones will not change anything, but perhaps if the customers out there could read about how it is done at NICE or other centres, read about now Vikki, Tunde and others have done this in the beginnings, when CE first came out of Hungary to prevent misunderstandings, then just maybe changes could take place.

How for example, have the parents been taught and guided on their chosen path through a conductive life at NICE, or at other centres. How did/do parents continue to learn when their children are older and no longer accompanied in the groups by parents? How have you stopped the rot, how did you inform and guide families?

This is the stuff that parents need to hear, especially after being told that something is wrong out there.

How for example are student-conductors taught about house visits?

Who funds house visits? Are these offered as a part of a course for children, as they often have been in groups that I have worked in?

How often are the visits built into the programme. Are the house visits a few hours or overnight?

How else do parents learn the next steps in their conductive family lives? Please tell these sorts of stories not the despair.

These are things that parents need to read about. How it works, why it isn't therapy, why it isn't about rewiring brains. They need to read about it in order to know what to ask for. That's what customers do, they ask for a service, but first they need to know what they could be asking for. They won't be asking for anything if they only hear that the conductive world is criticising its own practice.

As we saw on Andrew's recent posting about the parent's blogs that he discovered, those parents immediately asked what is it they should know. What is it that they should be doing and receiving? What it is that has not be told to them and what is wrong with what has?

Andrew did try to inform them later but not before the worries had set in. We could prevent those extra worries, parents of disabled children have enough of them.

Perhaps it would be easier for the customers to read the answer along side the criticisms, or even better would be to leave the criticism and just get on with telling how it is.

It is all very well to say that the conductive world is not in order but the customers need to read about how it should be done too and how it is being done very well in many places all over the world. It is this examples that should be held up for them.

They need to be informed and have the resources available to them to learn what a conductive upbringing is and not only read that the world of CE thinks it is in dire straights. That is sure to put many a customer off.

In my small part of the world it actually isn't in such dire straights. I believe we are moving with very small steps further and further towards our goal of conductive living.

Yes Vikki, it is a very small drop in the ocean, but it is all I can manage with one pair of hands on a practical level. But I write about it and hope that a few more drops in the ocean are generated from my words.

Just think how many more drops in that ocean there would be if more people wrote about Conductive Upbringing. If more was written to describe how it is a life-style, with examples given of snippets of life where the Conductive Education is so apparently doing a spontaneous and wonderful job.

How else can the would be customers understand, how else can we begin filling with joy the big hole that some people havedug, how better than by describing what we do and how it works?

How else than by describing how a seven-year-old severely athetoid child controlled her moving limbs for a long time yesterday. Oh yes, we had learnt together over the years in many situations how she could do this, dressing, eating, playing, puzzling, walking, talking.

You name it, we practised it, but yesterday she used this skill in "real spontaneous life", to stroke the hand and a cheek of a three-week-old baby. The joy on that child's face to be doing what the baby's brothers were also doing, that is what customers need to read about conductive upbringing. To be able to sit alone on a stool and be given the baby in her arms to stroke, that experience in that moment was what conductive upbringing meant for that little girl.

I think it is just as damaging to the conductive world to be always reading about the deep hole that CE is in as it is to not tell the parents more about what they can expect when embarking on a hard but wonderfully rewarding conductive life.

Please let’s start looking on the bright side of life.
The above response was too long to fit intothe Comments . I am always pleased to post up readers' contibutions that for some reason they cannot get on line.
As for the substance, above and yesterday, I would crave a little time to think about it.
Sorry, soundtrack only.  I can't find a video, can anyone oblige?
Yesterday's posting and comments


  1. Suzie,
    Many thanks for elaborating on the topic yesterday, you are absolutely right about the need to celebrate good practice or the good intention which keeps CE going all way around the world, the good will of conductors, parents, people who keeps it possible on the financial level and those who support CE perhaps less directly to practice but with advocacy, lobbying and just keep the topic going beyond the practice level.
    Your comment made me realise that the issue we are discussing is multi-layered and without clarifying these different dimensions there is the possibility of great misunderstnadings.
    Viki in her original email to Andrew talked about two key issues; dealing with our service-users but she also mentioned the knowledge base of CE; questioned the appropriateness and relevance of research and publications carried out by others.
    You strongly focusing on the responsiblity to children, adults, families which is of course should be the first priority for CE practice.
    However, I think there are some further ones, too.
    We also have responsibility for our very specific profession. We do not want CE to dillute or amalgate into something else which it should not be, we have very clear expectations and ideas, but who can tell how it should be done? Who will help a conductor to deal with challenges? Where can a conductor turn to professional support? How should one go about if something went wrong? Conductors have a great social networking system but is it really for this purpose? Perhaps I am just not informed and therefore I would love to hear if someone has answers to these questions.
    Finally we have a third responsiblity; the task of advocating CE to the world, to make it known and accepted; this appears to be the biggest challenge. We are living in a world where evidence is madly needed for every claim to be legitimate and acceptable. This is what makes Viki frustrated, this is what Gill encourages to do with small steps. To proceed we just simply need more people to be on board and instead of the isolated attempts we should learn from each other and support those who happy to engage with these issues.

    People who involved in CE have not bought a ticket for an easy ride but so far we have pulled through hard times and survived in tough circumstances. Thanks for all who made this possible. The question is that what is next?

  2. Andrew, thanks for posting the comment.

    Perfect choice of song!

    I found these three videos, any good? I found others but they were not allowed to be viewed in Germany.

    This video below is, I think, nicer than those above but a different song!


  3. Susie,
    I hope I didn't misunderstand what you were saying.
    I have a problem with dividing the world up to 'goods' and 'bads', 'positives' and 'negatives', whether these are used to label people, acts, or viewpoints. I can't do anything but agree with Andrew when he says "Step 1 towards a new future will be for some at least to admit to the problem, as essential prerequisite to solving it.". That is my viewpoint,too, but I believe right now we're in denial. We all know what we're doing is wonderful, but who else does? Certainly not the academic world and that is, whether we like it or not or admit it or not, a problem.
    Our original posts on this site, which started this whole discussion with Andrew, does not contain criticism of CE, it bairly ever mentions CE. Rather, it contains (I believe)incredibly useful practical guidance for parents on how to avoid scams; I'm working on the next thread that will provide even more useful information, this time about CE because we just arrived to this topic after the discussion of scams, and I simply didn't have time to post everything I meant yet. I privately talked to both parents included in that discussion via facebook chat, explaining the basics of what to expect from CE.
    I am not sure you read the above topic thread. My discussion with Andrew followed the thread, it was not 'out of the blue' Vikki complaining about everyting.
    So, for your suggestion "This is the stuff that parents need to hear, especially after being told that something is wrong out there", I can answer that I'm doing what I can. I'm telling parents I have contact with things that I believe they need to hear, I worked a lot on it, I believe it's accurate and it's there for everyone to see. My comment about the 'small drop in the ocean' was about the fact that I know I only reached a few parents via that discussion, I didn't reach crowds. I thanked Andrew for posting it on his blog because I assume a few more parents may read it this way.

  4. Sorry, the link I meant to attach is this:

  5. Vikki
    Thank you for the reference.

    It is the same reference that I received in a google alert for "conductive education" a while ago that I forwarded to Andrew and Gill Maguire because I thought it might interest them too. It is the same reference that I found at the bottom of Andrew's posting.

    So yes, I have read it and I also read the email correspondence on Andrew's blog several times and noticed that after the first mails discussing the benefit of that thread you both went on to discussing CE in general, and you mention the deep hole that you feel CE was in. As you say this wasn't a theme on the thread that you give the reference for.

    I think it was this despondency with the general state of affairs that Tunde also picked up on in her comment and not your thread on the other site. It was to both of you that I was responding.

    Working in Germany as I do, I know as well as any about what is happening to Conductive Upbringing. It has long since become Konduktive Förderung provided by PTKs in many centres here.

    I have never worked where what I do is called Conductive Education so this feels like a very abstract expression to me and I think it can be very misleading to the customers.

    We conductors are not in denial, that would be impossible as there are now 60 PTKs in Germany it would be hard for us to deny their exsistance.

    I no longer know how many conductors there are but probably fewer than sixty. If we are now in the minority we would be foolish to be in denial.

    We are trying our best to provide conductive upbringing. We work along side kindergartens and schools and step by step it is working. We won't get rid of the Konduktive Förderung that is now too well established here but we will I hope still have conductive upbringing.

    We wouldn't have got as we have done by sitting waiting for the academics to do whatever research they think is neccessary.

    I believe we must act positively and not complain about the state of affairs on a public screen so our customers can read it.

    Susie Mallett

  6. Susie,
    I don't know anything about the state of our profession in Germany, I only worked in English speaking countries (well, mostly). In English speaking countries the name of our profession 'Conductive Education' is problematic, and I do not wish to analize this further here now because it has been analized before by others to great extent. I partly referred to this when I told Andrew "Whoever stood up by it (CE)often made more harm than good through fatal misunderstandings and bad translations".
    I don't think we have to sit and wait for the academics to do 'their' research. They did, some 200 papers, and none of them is worth a penny. The very problem is that we DID sit and wait while they were doing this to all of us, and at the end of the day this hurts the families, who are being misinformed, again. We can't keep this is as a secret, Susie; the abstracts of published research in academic journals are available on the internet for EVERYONE to see, and often you can read the whole paper. I understand you're worried about what our customers can read here, but aren't you worried about the published research, that most educated people trust as being true, saying that we're no better than the substandard 'traditional' services already offered in their country?
    It may be a cultural difference between us, but in my dictionary 'looking on the sunny side' means that everyting is fine, the best way it can possibly be, and altogether reminds me of Voltaire's 'Candide or optimism' which is a compulsory read in Hungary (might contribute to our often gloomy viewpoints?)
    Don't get me wrong, I'm as happy as the next person with our daily results and the magic of learning still surprises me every single day. But I'm not happy with the fact that others who decide about what gets funding and what doesn't, don't share our enthusiasm and we have nothing to support our side in order to change this.

  7. Part one

    I do not have much time at the moment but there are just a few things I wish to say.

    Firstly "we", conductors, don't have a profession here in Germany, it does not exist as such.

    This is very strange as there is probably more to read on Conductive Pedagogy in German than in any other language so the little information there is, is available for all to read. ButI suspect that in fact very few actually read it. German was Petö's language so no translating was needed, but there are still enough misunderstandings for Conductive Pedagogy, after so long, not to have gained recognition. Neither in the education nor in the health sectors.

    I believe that the misunderstandings lie much deeper than the translations, than the language being used.

    Of course the research material that has been published makes cause for concern. We have had to fight the results of the Voss Report here in Germany for years, but it is published I cannot change that. What I and others involved in the conductive world can do is to influence what we publish and this is what concerns me. Especially when every thing we publish, or discuss on forums like this is on a very public stage we can reach a lot of people in this way.

    I read this morning on your comment to Becky that you would not state out loud any more your belief that there are good and bad conductors, but you are willing to tell the whole world on Andrew's blog that this is your opinion. I am not questioning this, just as Becky says it is so in all walks of life, but what I am saying is that this is a very public stage, it is the same as saying things out loud and I still believe that this stage needs to be more positive.

    In my work I have found very few customers who read research, they gain what information they can from other parents and from the conductors they come in to contact with. It is only in the last few years with wide-spread use of the "web" that this information is so readily available for everyone to read. The problem was here before the internet reached the masses and valuable information was made available to us and our customers.

    As for the title that Andrew gave to the posting where he posted my comment "Looking on the sunny side of life, always looking on the sunny side? If you have a question about this you will have to ask him about it. I think that discussion about the title is actually what he wishes, that could be why he put a question mark there.

    By actually mentioning the sunny side one indicates that there is a dark side to life too.

    Yes, it is my philosophy to look at the sunny side as looking at the brighter things certainly does give me more energy to deal with the not so bright stuff that life deals us.

    I also believe that taking positve action is the only way to get out of a deep hole.

    This is why I love conductive upbringing it is why I love my work as a pedagogue. It fits so well to my own personality. I look every day on the sunny side of what is in a customer's life. I look at what motivates someone to learn. I cannot imagine anything brighter or sunnier in life than doing this.

    As I said the sentence and the song both indicate that there is a dark side of life too. This is the whole reason for the sentence's existance, to make one aware that positive thoughts are usually stronger than the negative, that in a stormy sky there is often just enough blue sky to make a sailor a pair of trousers.

    I actually found both the title in its questioning form and the song that Andrew chose very appropriate and I wait with interest to read the thoughts that he had craved time for.

  8. Part Two

    I end with some of the words of the Carter Family song in question.

    There is a dark and a troubled side of life,
    But there is a bright and a sunny side too.

    Though you meet with the darkness and strife,
    The sunny side you will also may view.

    Though the storm made its furied rage today,
    Crushing hope that we cherished so dear.

    The clouded storm will in time pass away and the sun again will shine bright and clear.

  9. Susie, my comment to Becky about 'not mentioning' the 'good and bad conductors' came with a smily face, which means I intended it as a joke. It just made me smile to see the exact same thought that I had at one stage, that I, in fact, put into some forum years ago almost word by word the same way. The reason I 'don't mention it any more' is because I think it's trivial. Didn't we all go to a bad doctor, or met a rude salesperson at a store?

    I am as positive as anyone can be, I'm helping children and families on a daily basis, in fact I just finished up typing up a long letter to a parent full of support and it's the middle of the night here. I really don't need to be sold the 'sunny side of life' because i bought into it years ago, I'm a conductor. I put all the support that I have to where it needs to go. That is what all the other conductors do, I believe, at least that's what my experience is.

    What I now see as certainly 'negative' is that raising concerns about critical matters, daring to imply that there might be a problem brings such vehement bashing down with it. I'm at loss now as why is this necessary, neither I understand why a person who raises valid concerns is labelled as one who can't see the 'sunny side'. I can. And i can see the other side, too. And we have to do something about it, other than keeping looking at the sunny side. Doing our daily work with the children and families, no matter how great we are is not enough because it hasn't shown to bring us recognition from the academic world, which we do need asap.

  10. With the spread of conductors and their limited numbers it is very difficult for them to have any sort of discussion, analysis, whatever you call it, whether privately or publicly, I would think. At least via the blogs there is an opportunity to communicate and this should continue, surely?

    Those who have commented on this posting seem to share similar concerns and this should encourage others to contribute, to work towards and maintain the true aims of Conductive Education. There is no leader, no Association or body standing up for CE - someone must do it.
    Parents want the best for their children and anything that will help CE to stay on track must be good.
    Don't all professions have similar discussions?