Saturday, 3 April 2010

Classic? Yes..

Scientific? Hmm...
Studies bibliographic and biographic

Ákos, K., ed. (1975) Scientific Studies on Conductive Pedagogy, Budapest, Institute for Conductive Education of the Motor Disabled Conductors College

This week Gill Maguire posted up the eighth in her occasional series 'Conductive Education Classics', that highlights from time to time some of the more prominent texts in that meagre English-language 'literature' of Conductive Education:

Gill admits herself rather bemused by this little publication. She is not the first and will not be the last! Myself came across it on my first visit to Budapest, in the spring of 1984. I had taken a small group of 'experts' with me to report upon and a lot hung on what we came back with (in the even this amounted specifically to a couple of hundred of thousands pounds (a lot of money in those days), free conversion and use of use of a school building and all d=sorts of other material benefits). There were four of us, one (Ronni Nanton) was predisposed, two were sceptical and requiring 'scientific' documentation. Maria Hari proudly presented us each with a copy of Scientific Studies.

Let me say simply that it was a terrible disappointment, to all four of us. I like Gill have no idea why it was written but, in the context in which it was presented, it was toe-curlingly awful. In the event the mission did report favourably and the project to extract Conductive Education did begin to roll forward, but this was despite the Scientific Studies not because of them.

Mária had a goodly stock of them and I know that she proudly handed out copies to all and sundry who visited for some years. Afterwards, as Gill reports, they were available for sale. There must be quite a few floating around the conductive world still. I suspect that when it comes to arguing the case for Conductive Education, most people have kept them under a discrete veil. I do hope so.

Elsewhere on Conductive World mention enough has been made of the non-equivalence of the Hungarian word tudomány and the English word 'science'. Certainly, this little book falls under Hungarian rather than the English usage, though I suspect that Hungarian academics might be loath to admit claim it as one of theirs either.


None of this is to deny Scientific Studies its place as an English-language 'CE classic' and Gill's list would be remiss in not including it. for some considerable time it was the only book on Conductive Education from its country of origin and, over the years, it turns up as a reference in the literature (though one does suspect at times whether all those referring to it have really read it).

Look it up in Google and you will get almost a hundred hits.

Whatever might be said of its content this book is a bibliographic fact, and it speaks of something very important in the conductive movement, the nature of its knowledge base. Thank you Gill, for including it. Most salutary.

But the bibliographic story does not end there. The is another book, beige and not blue bit otherwise companion to this volume:

Ákos, K., ed. (1973) Tudományos Közlemények, Budapest, Mozgaszserultek Nevelokepzo es Nevelointezete. Budapest: Conductors' College

This earlier book is in Hungarian. Its title can be rendered into English as 'Scientific Studies' and the agency in Budapest that published it is the same Conductors College that went on to publish the English-language book two years later. The two books were both edited (or should that be 'lektored') by Károly Ákos. They are not, however, the same book. The authorship of individual chapters in the earlier one is not specified and there were apparently more people involved:

A kötet szerzői:

Gyenei Magdolna
dr. Mária Hári
Hideg Pál
Horváth Jantje Emőke
Horvátné Nogradi Julianna
Kozmáné Székely Ildikó
Szlay Zsuzsanna
Székely Ferencné


Dr. Ákos Károly

Both books end with a host of uncaptioned and unexplained black-and-white photographs of children and conductors – what on Earth does one make of these images? Both include tables of the same familiar 'statistics' that caused our party so much bemusement in 1984, and which one still hears echoed in quoted 'success rates' of Conductive Education even now. And both include the same page of references.

But there is yet more. I also know of a Tudományos Közlemények dated 1971, from the same source. At the moment I cannot lay hands upon a copy to comment further.

Perhaps there have been others.

Serous bibliographic research is but one area of 'Conductive Education research' that has been allowed to lie virtually fallow (not least with respect to the Hungarian and German CE classics?


Never forget that every article every book has had to be written and has had to be published. There is always a story behind it, which may be rather more interesting that the actual written content! This can as true for academic and professional books as for any others – perhaps especially so!

What was a given book written, how did its particular authors come together to do this, what were they after, what were the relationships between, what happened afterwards? One rarely know inless directly involved at the time, but such matters might have been as important and significant as anything in the written matter on the pages before us.

Just who were these people?

One hears amazing stories? What further amazing stories might be told by those who remain?

It is the fate of most professional and academic writing to have no effect upon the world whatsoever. Most articles are probably never read (except by the authors and their enemies!) and if is a frequently demonstrated fact that very little indeed of of then mountains of publications that come out each tr are ever cited by subsequent writers.

But the authors were real people, actors upon life's stage, they did things (or they did not do things), they affected others, the world changed and in part this was as a result of what they did.

Never mind the bibliographic side of things, what about the biographies of those who contributed here?

Something else that we do not know about in Conductive Education, not just for those dim and distant years in Hungary in the early seventies, but before then and – of ever increasing significance – in the more recent, international years of Conductive Education....

There's another job for you, Gill...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this, Andrew. I did obtain copies of the other scientific studies you mention (although I had no idea there was a connection as my Hungarian is practically non existent)for the National Library of Conductive Education and assume a copy is still there on the shelf.

    As to the suggestion of another job, your ideas are always welcome, so maybe when there is more time, and the chance to track people down!