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

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