Friday, 30 April 2010

Conferences and congresses

Can't they be developmental?

Yesterday Conductive World reported two weeks' grace for submitting abstracts to December's International Congress. In a Comment to this posting, Rony Schencker responded –

Working intensively against the clock... 'mentoring' abstracts for submission by others, and working on my abstracts, I'm proud to announce that six abstracts were sent for review, and hopefully Tsad Kadima will be able to hold a symposium in the upcoming congress with varied topics and presenters (conductors, parents and others).

I wonder how many such teams there will be fielded from around the world, and how 'isolated' people can find appropriate encouragement and help them break into presenting their life and work.

Maybe if these Congresses are to continue one useful way in which they might evolve better to suit the very nature of the field would be to adopt a more developmental role, with structures in place to ensure this.

CE's own zone of next development

After all, if people are undeveloped in some way it is not enough to accept them as they are, hen adapt the world down to them. One has to motivate them to advance and learn, and the best way towards that is surely to take them stepwise through experience of success.

Conductivists of all people should go with that!

En masse, though, those self-same conductivists may need much the same kind of intervention over articulating what they do. Something like this Congress (though there are other examples enough on a smaller scale) may suggest that CE as a body is not terribly advanced or forthcoming in this in this respect.

The appropriate response to low attainment is not to accept the present level of development but to work actively towards creating the next.

It is wonderful if Rony chips in with her considerable personal fourpenceworth, to nag and encourage and mentor – wonderful, that is, for those within her own particular bailiwick. But where do more isolated souls find someone like that?

If an individual learner attempts unaided to solve a too-difficult task, then not only will the task not be properly completed, or not completed at all, but also two other outcomes will ensue. First, any onlookers may form a rather poor opinion of what that individual is capable of achieving. Secondly, the individual may learn a very damaging lesson – 'Can't'.

Something needs to be done for next time

No one in Conductive Education should need telling this when it comes to individuals with, say, motor disorders. When, however it come to the whole body conductive – Physician, heal thyself.

The more there is to learn, and the more mis-learning and low expectations already accumulated, then the more planning and effort may likely be needed to turn the situation around. Maybe, if there are to be other such shows in the future, then the organisation of conferences, congresses and other meetings that are to have a genuinely developmental function for Conductive Education as a whole should include consideration of how people – more people – can be prepared to make the most of it.

In the case of these big international shindigs this cannot be expected of the local host organisation which will have more than enough on its hands organising the event itself. So what alternative ways might might be suggested towards creating more orthofunctional development in this respect for the conductive movement worldwide?

ICF – International Classification of Functioning

Did CE make it into the WHO survey?

I have just received this email –

Dear Dr Andrew Sutton,
We’d like to thank you for offering to collaborate in this global expert survey. As you know, only a random sample of participants received the web-link to access the survey. The data collection finished yesterday (April 28th, 2010); we will proceed to link all the answers to the ICF-CY. We hope to share our results with you soon.
Kind regards,
Veronica Schiariti MD MHSc PhD(C)
Global expert survey coordinator

I also heard this morning from a correspondent who received the notification..

What' it all about?

Check back to see. It seemed important at the time and perhaps still is, maybe more so:

16 September 2009

17 September 2009

23 September 2009

14 October 2009

How many people in Conductive Education, conductors, parents, ICF-believers or ICF-sceptics, have received the same email? Of course neither CE nor anyone associated with it has any right to be represented in this study, but it will be a shame (in both senses of the word) of there is no account taken of the voice of Conductive Education in this study.

Unless of course this is tacit acknowledgement from a paediatric rump within cerebral palsy that it has no further business with Conductive Education.

Now there's something that would be a terrible shame. Do please tell that you have indeed taken part in this study – and prove me wrong.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Hong Kong – Phew!

Closing date for Congress submissions extended

SAHK announces on its website today –
In response to requests for more time for abstract submission, it has been decided to extend the deadline for abstract submission to 17 May 2010 (Monday). Should you have any questions concerning abstract submission, please do not hesitate to contact our Conference Secretariat.

It has been quite a hectic week for those people rushing to get their submissions made for tomorrow's originally scheduled closing date, not least for those whom I myself persuaded at the last minute to write something and send it in.

And for me, since I have spent quite a bit of time this week myself on 'mentoring' abstracts for submission by the end of this week! I am pleased to say that most these have already gone off to Hong Kong.

This leaves me. I thought that as I shall be there anyway I should submit a couple of things but, as often seems to happen, my own purposes have had to give way to the needs of others. Now that SAHK has extended the deadline, I can take the next couple of days a little easier, and perhaps take some advantage from practice that I have with other people's submissions.

Never mind me, and never mind those who are now through the submission barrier. The extra two weeks offer the possibility of others' putting something together. Enough for the moment to announce the two weeks' grace but I shall be returning to questions of congress presentations and nagging people once more to consider doing something themselves.

Note the Secretariat's offer to help in this. Do take this offer up:

And, when I have my two out of the way, then I might be daft enough to mentor some more... I would like to hope that therr are others who will be doing the same.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010


Just when they thought it was all over

I mean Greece, specifically the Greek debt crisis. Portugal next? What dreary economic news to wake up to!

The situation in Eurozone looks pretty dire. The German government is putting off international decisions for local party-political electoral reasons, in Nord-Rhein-Westphalien. The UK political parties are in a conspiracy of silence about essential tough fiscal measures (simultaneous tax-rises and public-sector cuts).

The Americans are still trying to sort out the blame for the sub-prime crisis (Mssrs Goldman Sachs chaps are sounding very sheepish on the wireless as I write, denying everything).

Here we go again. CE faces a choppy sea. Time to get the head back in the sand.

Not much of a joke

I am reminded of the old Music Hall /Vaudeville joke (Groucho Marx's, allegedly) –

What's a Greek urn?
I don't know. About fifty drachmas a day.
Boom, boom.

Now Greeks earn Euros and the joke is being rewritten (try Googling the question).

But seriously folks...

Norman Perrin has already been blogging on this, some hours before myself:

He identifies one of the links between Conductive Education and likely further cut-backs, and one possible line for how to argue, or at least, defend Conductive Education's financial case.

He leaves open the further question of who will act.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

New conductive service in Austria

See how others get by...

The well established Mozaik organisation is inviting applications from conductors to join its considerable staff, at the Pädagogisch Therapeutisches Förderzentrum, Seiersberg, to begin in Spetember.:


Here is Mozaik's homepage:

Even if you do not speak German you might like to flick through Mozaik’s website. Just look at the pictures to see what ‘well established’ can mean in some parts of the world!

Tucked away there is a brief summary, in English, to show the scale of thing, nluding the following:

Information about us
Mosaik is a limited company in the non-profit sector. We offer care, consulting and aid for people with disabilities (children and adults.) Our main aim is to enable people with disabilities to integrate in the community.
Mosaik was established more than 30 years ago by a group of committed parents, who founded the 'Styrian federation for people with disabilities'.
Facts: 320 employees. 600 clients
In Styria we are one of the biggest private companies in this field of activity. Quality is very important for us. Beside the high qualifications of our employees, it is also important that they are willing to respond to the needs of people with disabilities. It is also essential that we enlarge our offers according to the changing needs of our clients.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Hungarian Election

Final score (nearly)

Results are nearly all in now, following last week's second-tier run-off voting, the (near) final score being:
  • Fidesz ('right-centre') 263 seats
  • Socialists (the former Communists) 59 seats
  • Jobbik (extreme Hungarian) 47 seats
  • LMP (green) 16 seats
Not only does Fidesz have an overall majority and will form the first non-coalition government since the establishment of democratic rule but this majority is so overwhelming (more than two thirds) as to permit changes in the Constitution to be driven through.

The result means that Viktor Orbán serves a second term as Prime Minister.

The rest is detail.

Sparks may be expected when Gabor Vona, head man of Jobbik, attempts to attend new parliament wearing the illegal uniform of the paramilitary Magyar Garda. Otherwise, Hungary's new government now faces the long, hard, political and economic slog of getting the country economically back on its feet. Strong governmental control may be important in taking some drastic economic steps, including in tax, heath and education.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Mickey Mouse

Coincidences: Mária Hári, Goethe and Walt Disney

Two days ago Conductive World mentioned Minnie Mouse, the female companion of Mickey Mouse:

I have never previously heard her name mentioned in relation to Conductive Education, but what do I know? Mickey Mouse, however, may be met often in this context.

Mickey Mouse pejorative

Mickey Mouse the animated cartoon character originated in the United States, though he is known around the world. Amongst English-speakers his name has a further meaning.
Mickey Mouse is a slang expression meaning small-time, amateurish or trivial. In the UK and Ireland, it also means poor quality or counterfeit.... In the United States armed forces, actions that produce good looks, but have little practical use (such as the specific manner of making beds in basic training or the polishing of brass fittings on board ship) are commonly referred to as 'Mickey Mouse work'.  In schools a 'Mickey Mouse course' or 'Mickey Mouse major' is a class or college major where very little effort is necessary in order to attain a good grade (especially an A) and/or one where the subject matter of such a class is not of any importance in the labor market... In the beginning of the 1980s, then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once called the European Parliament a 'Mickey Mouse parliament', meaning a discussion club without influence.
In Conductive Education the term may be heard used to refer to services, organisations, training, qualifications, publications etc. that manifest any or all such attributes. It is not a respectful description.


I do not know whether the term 'Mickey Mouse' is similarly used in other languages. Mária Hári's asked me the meaning of this English expression, having heard it used to describe a particular interpretation of Conductive Education that she very much disliked. She thought the explanation highly amusing, and told me that the equivalent Hungarian expression would be hokusz pokusz.

Exactly a year before yesterday's Minnie Mouse posting, to the day, Conductive World published a rather-too-long item on 'magic' in Conductive Education, in which I remarked upon Mária's analogy of Goethe's Sorcerer's Apprentice (der Zauberlehrling) to describe such practice, and drew attention to Walt Disney's coincidental linking of this with Mickey Mouse (the character) in his film Fantasia:

Great teaching material! I think that it was Becky Featherstone's mum who had came up with an old video tape for me to use for this purpose. Nowadays, of course, the clip is much more accessible, wanting no more than a click on YouTube to call it into life:

Too late to share this with Mária, I am afraid. Pity. She would have loved it!


Sutton, A. (2009) Conductive Education: it's magic, Conductive World, 23 April

Sutton, A. (2010) Minnie Mouse might understand, Conductive World, 23 April

I am afraid that I did not get round to completing a second posting on magic – on black magic. I must do so some time. Meanwhile I am left to reflect upon this magical coincidence of dates!

By the way, the URL for the Sorcerer's Apprentice given previosly now flags up 'due to copy right claim by Disney... etc. the video has been removed from YouTube'. There are of course embargo-busting 'mirror sites' and the URL for this Fantasia clip given above is one of these. Enjoy, while you can! And if you go to YouTube and find that Disney has got round to blocking this one, just search for Mickey Mouse sorcerer's apprentice whether find further public-spirited sanctions-busters have stepped into the breech with other ones.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Go on, take a chance

Last chance to submit to Hong Kong Congress

If you cast your eyes down to the foot of this page you will find a notice of how many days there are left till the start of the World Congress of Conductive Education in Hong Kong. As I write these words this stands at 'only 224 days', a long time indeed it might seem. In as far as the future is given to any of us to know, that date is fairly certain (DV, Inshallah etc.)

What I cannot know is how many of those who read these words will be expecting or intending to be going to Hong Kong themselves at the start of December to take part in this big occasion. After all, such things cost a lot of money, many people cannot be sure what they will be doing (or earning) for more than a few months into the future and – let's be honest about it – congress-going is not, as we English say, everybody's cup of tea.

So why mention it now? Because there is an immediate date coming up to do with this Congress that is of considerable importance to those particular people (and institutions) considering, however casually, that they just might present something there. That date is the final day of April, the closing date for submitting summary proposals for consideration for inclusion in the Congress programme.

Submit before the end of the month, and your proposal might or might not be accepted. Fail to meet that deadline and it certainly won't be! That is certain.

The closing for submissions date falls next Friday. If you are gong to submit, to 'get something in', you have as I write just six days – and counting.

Who me?

– Yes, you.

– No, surely not me.

– Yes, of course, not everyone who reads these words, but some of you – no excuses.
  • You are not 'an academic'? Never mind, many of those who do present to these World Congresses are not academics either, and that includes some of those who have pretensions to be so considered. You may have a qualification far more important for the needs of Conductive Education: you may have experience or a viewpoint that needs to be heard.
  • You have never done anything like that before? So what? That goes for everything else that you have ever done. That's of the essence of human learning and development: there has to be a first time for everything. And you will find that such events are a friendly accepting sort of gathering, usually a long way from home, a great place to make your first stumbling steps into the public arena. And by dead reckoning I suspect that you will never find a friendlier gathering than the one in Hong Kong.
  • Why should you bother? Interesting question, and there is ultimately only one really telling answer to this, especially when one considers the expense. Oh yes, Hong Kong is an amazing place to experience and well worth dipping into if you ever have the chance. And yes, the Congress itself will be great fun, you will meet lots of people in CE (how else do you propose to do this in concentrated form?) – and once you have seen the conductivists on the hoof you will have perspectives from which you will never view individuals in the same way again (in most cases, they will look smaller). But these are extras, luxuries.
The real reason to shell out money on such scale is enlightened self-interest.
  • Maybe you are a parent with a strong desire that new generations of parents should not go through the dreadful experiences as you have had to face – and along with you have strong ideas about how things should be dome differently. If you don't put your ideas, and your name, and your face about, how do you expect to make the contacts that could make all the difference? There may be other ways to do this (the Internet for example) but – err – if that is the case, where are you ? It may be deplorable to admit, but there seems no a priori reason to expect Conductive Education to be any different from other field in that the best way to meet and 'do business' is face to face.
  • Maybe you are a 'young' conductor (what's 'young' in this sense?). What is the conductors' career ladder? Is there a conductors' career ladder. Jobs 'further up' are often filled by people who, perhaps for no fault of their own, have nowhere else to go. You advancement is not a matter of your virtues but subject entirely to dead men' shoes (more usually here, dead women's shoes). There is nothing ignoble about spending the rest of your working life doing just what you do now (well, as long as your back permits it) but what if you wish to diversify, involve yourself in new practices, do things differently, develop into new fields? In that case the same applies as in the case of parents above. There are a few (a very few) conductors who get out there on their own and create their own thing – and there are other ways than congresses to latch on to what others are already doing or put about your own notions. But again, in other fields congresses, conferences, colloquia are important ways of floating you on to the consciousness of your peers (and of others too) outside the hierarchy that might hold you trapped in the workaday world of work. I know this from my own personal experience in another, previous life – get out there and build yourself a reputation: you never know where it might lead (oh dear, it led me ultimately to Conductive Education!).
  • I suppose that I should add other groups here – like 'researchers', but they already know more that enough about climbing the slippery pole without any help from me. It would be nice, though, for them and for everybody else, if their slippery pole might be better linked to the interests and concerns of those whom they might regard as their subjects. And what about the 'center-managers'? And the young people who have experienced Conductive Education first hand...?
Just do it!

I have a couple of people whom I know to be on the edge of submitting to the Congress. I have a few days more to nag them into getting their acts together and sending something in. Can I nag you too?

There are two things that you could do at the Congress, an 'oral presentation' or a 'poster'.
  • An oral presentation means that you stand up in a small room in front of what may be a dozen or twenty people and you tell them something. Call it a 'lecture', if you like. You may like to use visual aids but please don't be one of those sad people who believe that you must do PowerPoint. Very occasionally, very occasionally indeed, I have seen this done well. Most often it is an excruciating waste of time. If you want to present a picture, or a diagram, than so very often the best and most vivid way to paint or draw it is in the minds of your audience. If you have an idea or a narrative (story) to put across, then I cannot see any other way. I am not much of an example, but I have got by over the years even though I have never used PowerPoint. I do not know whether the outcome has been all that great, the best judges of the effectiveness of this must be my audiences. I report this solely to exemplify that talk (plus maybe some chalk) can be fit for the purpose of what you want to get across.
  • A poster presentation means that you are allocated a space to post up what you have to say on a wall or a display board, in the form of a poster (or small posters), in a public area which everyone in the Congress will pass through. This has the great advantage of being potentially visible to every single Congress-goer – and, if you prefer it this way, it also frees you from the obligation of having to give a lecture. Your obligation at a personal level is to stand by your poster at a pre-announced time and chat, converse with those who would like know more: hardly an ordeal! It will be up to you, then, what additional leaflets, brochures, whatever, you hand out to interested parties. 'Posters' are often regarded as being of lower-status than oral presentations but they are a great way in for beginners and, actually, certain kinds of information are better conveyed this way than through oral presentation.
So 'just do it' – OK, just do what?
  • Work out whether there is anything that you (or your organisation) has to say to the world of Conductive Education.
  • Decide whether this would be done best – or easiest – as an oral presentation or as a poster.
  • Think about what might be in this for you (and/or your organisation).
  • Give a thought to whether you might be able to afford to go (though do note that you don't have to decide that by Friday).
  • Go to the Congress website, read the instructions, and have a go at filling in the submission form (always easiest if you do this alongside somebody, even somebody from a totally different field, who has filled in such a form before.
  • And get it sent off in the email, pretty damn quick!
Work on the basis that you only need a maximum of 500 words, and you should not spend more that a couple of hours over the actual writing of the submission.

And yours truly...?

I shall be going to the Hong Kong Congress anyway, for other obligations. While I am there, it has occurred to me, I ought to take the fullest opportunity of the occasion, possibly my last such. So I too will be writing and submitting forms this week, one for an oral presentation and one for a poster.

I have also been asked for something else, much harder to do, a personal biography (in the third person) of between 100 and 150 words.

I expect to be able to get these done in the next few days. So could you – and you won't need do the biography!

I hope to see you in Hong Kong.

Submit your summary proposal

Friday, 23 April 2010

Minnie Mouse might understand

Me, I just don't know what it is all about

The Tree of Hope Charity
The Tree of Hope offers hope to the families of sick and disabled UK children who need specialist surgery or additional medical treatment and therapy, in order to save their lives, and to give a better quality of life, and to help free them from suffering, by funding the treatment required...
Sometimes the lack of knowledge, facilities and equipment in this country means that treatment is better in other countries. Most Treatments and Therapies can be found in the United Kingdom, but, some Treatments are only available abroad....
We fund the Treatment, but we also urgently need funds for a treatment clinic and therapy centre.
The Pető Institute connection

A lady from Hastings has just raised £300 by running in a local half-Marathon –

Well done Nicola!

Nicola Tapsell representing ABT Plumbing ran in the recent 2010 Hastings Half Marathonand completed the race in 2hrs 40 minutes dressed as Minnie Mouse – and raised over £300 pounds.

Never mind the quantity, feel the width

Why do people go to the Pető Institute?

The chap with the hair is, I think the Crown Prince of Japan. More interesting (to me) are the four links at the foot of this page:
  • two of these are to photograph collections (the lady on the front of one of these was HRH Diana Princess of Wales)
  • one is to CBS News' Mind and muscle newsreel
  • one is to the well-known CE-sceptical article by Robinson et al. from the British Medical Journal, from 1989.
This article was mentioned on Conductive World earlier this month:

It is interesting to see the article in the BMJ being displayed to justify what it did not consider necessary. Never mind evidence-base: what about evidence-use?

What does the money buy?

Here's an example –

Funds already raised have recently enabled Bethany to complete an initial 3 month course of therapy at the Institute where she made good progress towards acquiring the skills necessary to improve her quality of life. However, this therapy must be maintained in order to retain and build upon these improvements. We therefore need to raise more money to enable her to return to the Institute twice a year for a month at a time over the next few years, at a cost of around £2000 per month.

That's a lot of money. A lot of Minnie Mouse fundraising and whatever else it takes to raise this.

The Tree of Hope Charity is based in Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex. How many CE services of different kinds are there within a fairly short drive away? How many in the UK as a whole?  

Minnie Mouse might understand. Me, I just don't know what it is all about.

Scientists, doncha love'em?

So many clever people

The Organising Committee of the ISPR 2010 writes –

Dear Andrew Sutton:

As you know, only 8% members of the Scientific Research Society agreed that 'peer review works well as it is.' (Chubin and Hackett, 1990, p.192). 'A recent US Supreme Court decision and an analysis of the peer review system substantiate complaints about this fundamental aspect of scientific research.' (Horrobin, 2001). Horrobin concludes that peer review 'is a non-validated charade whose processes generate results little better than does chance.' (Horrobin, 2001) This has been statistically proven and reported by an increasing number of journal editors. But, 'Peer Review is one of the sacred pillars of the scientific edifice' (Goodstein, 2000), it is a necessary condition in quality assurance for Scientific/Engineering publications, and 'Peer Review is central to the organization of modern science… why not apply scientific [and engineering] methods to the peer review process?  (Horrobin, 2001).

This is the purpose of the 2nd International Symposium on Peer Reviewing: ISPR 2010 (, being organized in the context of the SUMMER 4th International Conference on Knowledge Generation, Communication and Management:, KGCM 2010 ( which will be held on June 29th - July 2nd, in Orlando, Florida, USA.


Chubin, D. R. and Hackett E. J. (1990) Peerless Science, Peer Review and U.S. Science Policy; New York, State University of New York Press
Horrobin, D., 2001, Something rotten at the core of science? Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, vol. 22, no 2, February  
Goodstein, D., 2000, How science works, US Federal Judiciary Reference Manual on Evidence, pp. 66-72 (referenced in Hoorobin, 2000)

I just wanted to share this... I do not have anything to submit and could hardly get to Florida to deliver it if I had. Never mind, it is nice of them to keep me in touch.

Barmy boffins

And by the way, in case you are wondering, this is a ‘proper’ academic conference so, were I indeed submitting something, I should have to bear the following in mind (from a footnote to the above letter) –

All submitted papers/abstracts will go through three reviewing processes: (1) double-blind (at least three reviewers), (2) non-blind, and (3) participative peer reviews. These three kinds of review will support the selection process of those papers/abstracts that will be accepted for their presentation at the conference, as well as those to be selected for their publication in JSCI Journal.

So many clever people...

More on this

Autres pays, autres choses

Different trends in US and UK?

On 17 April Judit Roth wrote here on Conductive World

There are only a handful of CE organizations in the US who have been able to mark a 10-15 year anniversary.

I have heard similar statements elsewhere, from David Dvořak for example. It does seem that, whatever else might characterise CE centers in the US, it is not longevity. I do not know why 15 years has been picked as a particular watershed or landmark figure, but yesterday, only five days later, I was reminded of this by the following report from Middle England, from the small CE-centre Steps:

Steps 15th Birthday Celebration

Steps is a hive of activity this week as we prepare for our big 15th birthday bash on Saturday 24th April. The party starts at 4.00p.m and finishes at 7.00p.m. The website is also going live and it is looking fantastic! We have come such a long way and this week is a massive landmark in history for us...

CE-centers (US) and CE centres (UK) seem collectively rather different organisms but, out of the wide range of agencies that employ conductors in the UK, I suspect maybe half have been doing so for fifteen years or more. It would be interesting to see more formal, empirically based information, comparing the provision of CE-services of different kinds in these two large English-speaking countries

Steps, a small, grandmother-founded service, expects to expand in September.

What does any of this tell us? Not a lot. It does serve as reminder, however, of the power of different circumstances in different countries to push the development of Conductive Education down diverse (and largely undocumented) paths


'Old' website:

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Go to sleep

Course on a common problem

Sleep Practitioner Training
for health professionals, PAMs, etc.
working with families of disabled children
14 and 15 June 2010.
Bonhill House
London, EC2A 4BX
As part of the Handsel Trust’s ongoing Sleep Initiative to tackle sleep deprivation in families of children with disabilities, we are offering two-day Sleep Practitioner training workshops. The workshops will be an introduction to the principles of sleep assessment and management. Suitable for: Frontline health professionals, professionals allied to medicine, and psychologists who work with families of children with disabilities / special needs, including such Public Health Practitioners as Health Visitors, Community Children’s Nurses, School Nurses and therapists. Cost: £300.00 to include lunch and refreshments. For full programme and booking form contact:

And while you are at that site, have a look at two other upcoming events from the same orghanisation:
  • When ‘fewer people’ means better early support for young children with complex needs and their families
  • TAC System Training – to make the best use of limited resources and to take the strain off infants, families and practitioners

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Feldsher (barefoot) conductors

Continue the thought experiment

Coninuing the line of thought introduced in two recent postings on Conductive World, look at the further two items in Nursing Times. Again substitute 'conductors' for 'nurses', 'Conductive Education' for 'nursing', to generate an interesting possible scenario for the future if our own sector:

Adams, G. (2010) HCA regulation cannot be based on pay band alone, Nursing Times, vol. 105, no 12, 30 March, p.21

McGowen, G., Campbell, K. (2010) Training assistant practitioners to deliver clinical care in specialist services Nursing Times, 30 March, Nursing Times, vol. 105, no 12, 30 March, pp. 18-20pp. 18-20

Previous items on feldsherism and barefoot conductors

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Ilí Szekély in 1972-3

A parent reminisces

Mention of Ilí Szekély has prompted a personal reminiscence from Emma McDowell, who writes about when she first took her son George to the then State Institute in Villányi út, in April 1972 –

Székelyné (as I always heard her referred to) was an attractive-looking woman even when I first met her. (she must have been then about fifty). Székelyné had enemies within the establishment. I know that because it was she who was made responsible for admitting George [to the State Institute] in spite of the fact that he had a British father and name. George, at three years of age, attended the toddler group and then I myself went back in Belfast. Then in November 1973 my mother was called in to 'remove' George because he was there 'illegally' (in other words, free), as a Hungarian child.

My mother found Székelyné in her office, looking over dozens of pictures of George, that have been taken regularly at the Institute to follow his development. She was nearly in tears: 'I only looked at the child and not at his passport,' she told my mother. My mother had to go with Székelyné into the group and take George home. (He was crying at being taken out like this!)

Upon my mother’s frantic telephone, I then took trains and ferries to travel to Budapest and tried my best to plead at the Andrássy Útja (then called Népköztársaság Útja) Office for Registering Foreigners, for George to be allowed to stay, since all his papers were valid and my mother was 'officially' looking after him, and 'officially' receiving an allowance from me to do this (my father was dead by then.). I was coldly told that George and I would have to leave immediately but, upon obtaining some totally different papers and paying a huge bill for the time that he had already spent at the Villányi, he might be allowed to return…

We flew back to Belfast. It took me another year – and strong Party influence through my sister’s colleague’s husband who had a military rank – before we could go back to the Institute, with an official assurance that 'George can attend the Institute free as long as he needs to do so'. No money was asked, until 1988.

Please take this as a graveside speech for the late Head Conductor.


Indeed, I can go a little further, since Emma's email reminded me of an article that she wrote a little nearer that time, back in 1988, with a little more to capture that decisive day from the mists of memory –

George's assessment was undertaken by a lady in her mid forties who concentrated on him during the whole time. Questions, medical history, etc. were taken down by another, younger girl, also in a white coat, at a corner desk. My father asked this second lady beforehand what we should call the lady in charge (in Hungary professional persons are always addressed by their professional title).

'She is the Head Conductor', came the reply. This title, however, being totally strange in sound and usage to my father, he continued to address the nice, energetic auburn-haired woman as 'Head Doctor'.

Whatever she was, she performed magic over George. Turned over on a low, blanket-covered bed he stayed on his tummy without crying. Then she turned up the blanket, manoeuvring him on to the wooden laths underneath till he actually pulled himself forward. He crept a few inches for the very first time in his life! I as definitely won by the Pető system!

The lady seemed as happy as we were when she announced that George showed every sign of 'wanting and willing to be taught' and promptly offered us a place in their 'Mother and Child' group the next day.

After the interview my father stayed behind a minute: 'Doctor, do you believe he will walk?' he asked her, and the answer was a very confident Yes.

My father died a year later of heart disease and I am to this day very grateful to that Head Conductor for the hope and trust that she gave him for the future of his first grandson.


McDowell, E. (1988) Standing up for George (Memories of a Pető parent), The Conductor, vol. 1, no 1, April, pp.14-15

Monday, 19 April 2010

Szekély Ferencné (Ilí)

Mass tomorrow in Budapest

Ilí Szekély died on 31 March, aged 86 years, following a long illness. Long before there were any conductors she had been the first of András Pető's 'handling ladies'. Times then were very hard in Hungary after the War. Here is how she later told of her first encounters with András Pető –

It was 1948. My husband worked for the Institute [of Special Education], he was the odd-job man there: he heated the building, took the laundry to the launderette, reglazed the windows, and tidied the garden and so on.
We didn't have a flat; I stayed in the garden of the Institute with my baby daughter*. Pető told my husband to bring his family inside and they would make a flat for us there. My husband carried the coal out of the cellar and made room for us there. Ildí my daughter, was ill...
[Over that Christmas] Bárczi**  touched my daughter and realised that she had a fever. Bárczi – I have respect even for his memory – stated that it was otitis and talked to Pető (I only learned about this later), and they got penicillin for my daughter, which was an almost non-existent treasure at that time. My daughter recovered very well after that.
A few days later I met Pető and he told me to take my daughter out into the fresh air every day. Ildí couldn't yet walk, she was only ten months old. Before that I had seen Pető every day, I always greeted him but he never said Hello. But then one day Pető was walking there and I greeted him, and he stopped and asked: 'Do you have no other work than this one child?'
'No, I don't Doctor Pető, ' I said.
'Well then, come in to me, I'll give you work.'
'But where am I going to put my baby?'
'Bring her in,' he said,' or solve it however you can'.
(as retold by Judit Farrai, p. 93)

Ilóna Szekély stayed on. In 1968 she was with Pető when he died (ibid., p. 96). In the early seventies she contributed to the 'scientific studies' publications (mentioned earlier this month on Conductive World and Conductive Education Information). She did not train formally as a conductor (as her daughter did) but was made an 'Honorary Conductor' when she retired.

It has been announced today on the Pető Institute's website that there will be a Mass tomorrow evening, followed by a further service at the cemetery the next day.

Further details:


*    Mrs Ildikó Kozma, later Director of the Pető Institute and now Secretary-General of the International Pető Association

**   Gusztáv Bárczi, otolaryngologist and deaf-educator, then principal of the Institute of Special Education


Forrai, J. (1999) Memoirs of the beginnings of conductive pedagogy and András Pető, Budapest, Új Aranjhid, and Birmingham, Foundation for Conductive Education

Sunday, 18 April 2010


A new start

It is just over a year since many around the world of Conductive Education experienced the major shock of Gill Maguire's leaving the National Institution of Conductive Education:

One of several proposals for how to make up up for this loss whas been an 'electronic library'. One has to suspect that there was little idea what precisely this might entail or what might be produced as a result – and inevitably the question of resources is a vital factor in deciding what can be done.

In default of any other offers, and despite or because of there being no financial resources, Gill Maguire has come up with and implemented one simple solution:
  • harness the written material on Conductive Education now beginning to proliferate on the Internet, by linking to what is already there and formalising this information through the cataloguing system that she devised for the 'hard' collection in the National Library.
The result is the New Library of Conductive Education, to be reached since yesterday, for the moment anyway, at:

How extensive might this grow? Who knows? Gill has made a start.

What sort of Library? A new one

In one respect, Gill assures us that she will be continuing a noble, liberal librarians' tradition:

Please note that none of the items will be evaluated for quality. That is a job for readers: it is not the role of a library. Inclusion in this catalogue indicates solely their existence on the Internet.

Gill and I used to joke that some ninety-five percent of accessions to the National Library were junk and that this probably reflected the corpus of written material in the field of Conductive Education. Actually, when one takes a long view, we used to think in the early days that ninety-eight percent fell into the junk category, but that over the last couple of years or so this was perhaps dropping to ninety percent or below!

And here's the rub. An Internet-based collection will 'lose' a large proportion of some of the dreadful stuff of yesteryear (which will probably never ever make it on to the Internet). Yes, it is very important that such stuff should remain archived for scholars, but for the future it will remain – very literally – 'shelved!

Of course academic journals and other sources will continue to put some of their old stuff on line and, as is frequently remarked on Conductive World, all sorts of new junk continues to be published. But the junk quotient within the 'literature' of Conductive Education may continue to fall, we must hope, to well below ninety percent!

From now the on-line corpus will be much more readily accessible than real-world hard copies could ever be, and the facility of Gill's developing categorisation and linking will make it much easier to spot potentially useful documents in the the Sargasso Sea of the Internet.

How to sort the good from the bad? Readers will have to read around and find ways to develop their own critical sense – and the 'quoters' learn to recognise that just plonking a reference in a text does not necessarily confer authority, it can simply make one look daft.


Meanwhile Gill is appealing for relevant URLs (links), in any language. Any other suggestions and comments will also be very welcome.

Find out more about the New Conductive Education Library from Conductive Education Information and from the website of the New Library itself:

And do note out that this important contribution to the wellbeing of Conductive Education is being carried out as an act of personal charitas.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Letter from America

The Center for Developmental Differences

One way for Conductive Education to succeed long-term
in the United States

Judit Roth

My new center, the Center for Developmental Differences, is not CE-focused. We will always provide Conductive Education to those who will benefit. I love CE and I am always going to be a CET. and my passion is definitely. to work with children with cerebral palsy) but, based on my 13+ years working in the United States, I came to the conclusion that the CE centers that we all tried very hard to build are just not the way to succeed long-term. I know that this is a harsh statement but we have to realize that this model is not working long-term. There are only a handful of CE organizations in the US who have able to mark a 10-15 year anniversary.

We have to face it: there are so many facts that are against the small centers that exist in the United StatesTo name just a few such problems – and ways through them:

Small centers

Potential problem areas: lack of visibility, lack of credibility, lack of support from other professionals (medical and educational groups)

Keys to success: excellent marketing and PR, outstanding professional relationship with area agencies

Parent-organized groups

Potential problem areas: lack of business skills, lack of management skills, lack of effective communication skills with other parents and employees

Keys to success: strong, diverse (!) and effective boards, admit and treat your progra- administrator position as a full time job

Most CE centers in the US are set up as not-for-profit organizations

Potential problem areas: lack of time to fund-raise, lack of knowledge and experience in event-planning, weak PR, lack of grant-writing knowledge and experience, ultimately lack of funding

Keys to success: large group of supporters (workers), strong PR, healthy financial state of local area (current recession has killed many initiatives)

The list could go on…

All kudos to those who have succeeded in establishing and running their centers long-term! If you take a closer look at them, you should find the above ‘keys to success’ list implemented in their business plans (in the non-profit world we call these ;strategic plans'!) and in their daily operations.

I am not saying that it is impossible...

A different model

I have recently opened a new center for children with disabilities. At this time, I re-invented my vision and focused on a different model. This center ( serves children with all types of disabilities. We not only provide CE but have expanded our team and services with other traditional and somewhat experimental treatments and services., to provide therapeutic, educational, and recreational services under one roof, for example peech therapy, music therapy, Conductive Education, a study-skill program, and self-defence for children with special needs.

The logic behind this model:
  • childhood disability is not a diminishing trend
  • city and state government agencies are slow to react to new trends and parents' demands
  • local service-providers have long client wait lists
  • families need and want convenience (schedule, variety of programs and location)
  • families are more Internet-savvy and look for treatment options on line
Children with cerebral palsy

1. Numbers. The numbers do not change: approximately 1 in 500 live births will result in a child with cerebral palsy. I reviewed many census-based statistics and most areas in the US do not have ‘enough’ children with cerebral palsy to keep up and run an 'only CE' focused institute! I may be attacked for this, saying by those who say 'Even if we help five kids, we make a huge difference”. That is correct. I agree. Right now, in this letter, though, I am focusing on a business model that would more successful help deliver CE to those who might benefit.

2. Advocacy. There are not many effective agencies in the United States advocating for children with cerebral pal. In my opinion, UCP – the United Cerebral Palsy organization – has lost its focus and is helping everyone, left and right. Helping is nice but our kids are not represented and their issues are not pushed hard enough in any platform. Of course, this includes advocating and backing effective, cerebral-palsy-focused treatments (including Conductive Education).

3. Conductive Education and conductors in the US. Unfortunately, Aquinas did not graduate enough American conductors to make a really good wave in this country for Conductive Education. We Hungarians (and others, of different nationalities) keep pushing CE on our own small scale but we keep hitting the problem areas that I have already briefly mentioned

The Center for Developmental Differences

At CDD we are building a team that is responsive to changes in demands and acceptive of new ideas, – and of course open to Conductive Education I believe that families who bring their children with cerebral palsy to our center to receive speech therapy from an American, board-certified, state-licensed speech/language pathologist will look much easier upon and accept our Conductive Education program hosted in the same building and supported (idea-wise) by the other therapists (to clarify: our Conductive Education program is delivered by a Conductive Education teacher only)

Time will tell if my vision and my way of thinking will yield good results.

Center for Developmental Differences
4000 Virginia Beach Blvd
Suite 136
Virginia Beach, VA 23452
ph. 757486.0585
fax 757486.0586

US CE: two empirical enquiries

Judit's view of the CE scene in the United States is in part founded upon two empirical enquiries, reported in 2003 and 2007. For more on the first of these, see a recent posting on Conductive World:

Judit presented the results of a follow-up study at the last World CE Congress, in Sweden in 2007. She would be happy to share these. Contact her direct via CDD.

It is such a pity that the content of so many of these World Congresses has blown away like chaff in the wind the moment that they are over, perhaps reflecting something of an attitude towards knowledge that is still too prevalent within Conductive Education.

Friday, 16 April 2010

It’s pedagogy, Jim, but not as we know it

To boldly go...

This is not the first time that I have used this 'pedagogy, Jim' headline! I used it eleven years ago, trying to explain Conductive Education to an audience of headteachers in terms that they might understand – to no apparent effect!.

Now Captain James T. Kirk himself steps forward to speak up for Conductive Education (well, a mature William Shatner does), in an online video appeal for funds towards the Conductive Education programs run by March of Dimes (Canada):

Canadian actor William Shatner has acted as spokesperson for March of Dimes for three years now.

Also on line from March of Dimes is a TV report by with Susan Hay from Global TV, from 29 March 2010:

Conductor Mhairi (Vari) Watson does the honours.

Shame about the infinitive...

Putting aside that famous, jarring split infinitive, the opening words of every episode of Star Trek would make quite a nice motto for Conductive Education!


Sutton, A. (1999). It’s pedagogy, Jim, but not as we know it. Managing Schools Today, October, pp. 14–15.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Blog on

Emotion and upbringing

One thing that you can do with Conductive World, never mind its own published text, is use it as an instant guide to the CE-blogosphere.

Glance down the left-hand column of this page to see the current blogs included in this category. They are presented in the order of their most recent posting, the latest always going to the top of the list. Click on the top heading of an entry to be taken to that blog's homepage, Click on the second one to be taken to its most recent entry.

These blogs certainly are a mixed bunch. A few f them post at least once a week. Some post for a while then rest – but are kept on the register in the expectation that their authors will suddenly get the urge again, and write. If they do, then the automatic system will raise them immediately up to the head of the list.

Don't be fooled by the blog at the very bottom of the list. It represents an ingenious use of blogging technology to run a CE 'out-patients' (ambulancia) system and is updated frequently, but for technical reasons this does not show!

More, please

There may be other blogs up there in Cyberspace that are not featured here. Two I know of, but these are 'private blogs' and one has to have the authors' permission to access them. If you know of any public blogs not included on the list to the left of this page, do please send the URL (Internet address) to:

Particularly, it would be interesting to include more in Hungarian, and anything in German, Hebrew, Spanish or all the other languages in which Conductive Education is now being developed.

And it would be so very, very nice for more people to take the plunge and write their own.

Something completely different

Why bother about the CE blogosphere?

Partly because this is about the only place where you can find regularly updated writing on on and around Conductive Education. To put it the other way, most of what else you can read ion this topic is moribund.

The living organism of this blogosphere does what all living organisms do – it evolves (moribund things on the other hand decay).

The naïve newcomer to CE on the Internet might become aware of increasing divergence between how the CE-bloggers – whatever their specific differences – think as a body about CE, On the blogosphere you will read very little about wooden furniture and 1-2-3, and a great deal about emotional factors and about family. Indeed, the newcomer might be forgiven for wondering what these two interpretations have in common.

Not just the newcomer!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


Not a usual stomping ground
'Prestige and recognition of diplomas in Hungary'

Divat-Trend is a Hungarian fashion magazine. A little mystery on the Internet this week (7 April) has been what Hungarian fashionistas are reading about Conductive Education. It is a mystery in that the site refuses to open (for my computer, anyway), which is intriguing probably for its being irretrievable and in such an unexpected location:

Divat, stílus és minőség fórum blog
Divat ruházat, sztár érzés, stílus és minőség vizsgálati fórumok, érzelmes hozzászólások a blogon, hogy a pamut, modal, lycra, gyapjú, selyem, viszkóz és ...

In English, this means...

Fashion, style and quality forum blog
Fashion clothing, celebrity sensation, style and quality testing forums, sentimental comments on the blog, about cotton, modal, lycra, wool, silk, viscose and …

It is an incomplete fragment that is quoted here because, try as I might, I just cannot get the site to open. I have tried to do so only because Google Blogs tells me that there is an item in here somewhere that apparently mentions Conductive Education –

Diplomák presztízse, elismertsége Magyarországon
A diplomák elismertségének meghatározása összetett feladat. Saját tapasztalatok és a 2010-es Educatio kiállítás után is azt tudom mondani, hogy a...

In English...

Prestige and recognition of diplomas in Hungary
The recognition of diplomas is complex. My experience at the 2010 Education Exhibition permit me to say that...

This item also includes the contact address of Franz Schaffhauser.

Any further information?

This is possibly of no significance at at but, if you manage to get in, it might still be interesting to hear from you what it says. Inter alia, what an intersting contribution to student-recruitment, not at all a usual image for working with the disabled...

Inaccessible links on Google