Wednesday, 30 June 2010

A line of thinking

Ten points

The recent posting on muscular dystrophy on the Conductor blog has generated a couple of further Comments, from usual suspects Gill Maguire and Becky Featherstone –

Thank you to Becky, whose contribution to this discussion sent me spinning off along a line of thinking that goes something like this...
  1. Perhaps it is of little surprise – as there is so little 'CE-literature' in general – that, within what little there is, a minority interest is likely to generate none at all.
  2. There seems a considerable implicit assumption within CE (reflected without) that 'proper' or 'pure' CE is ideally definable by what has been done at the Pető Institute within living memory. Muscular dystrophy has not been done there over this period – ergo it lies beyond the Pale.
  3. More fundamentally, there is an again usually unstated presumption that CE is classifiable and sub-classifiable by medical conditions rather than an educational/developmental understanding that human learning is created out of interactions with the environment, particularly the social environment – which goes for everyone. To distinguish a diagnostic group as different per se at the pycho-social level is to set CE wholly apart from the rest of special education. Deaf or blind children are not defined as eligible for appropriate kinds of deaf or blind education according to their diagnosis, and one would hardly expect a Feuerstein or a Meshcheryakov to decide eligibility on the basis of aetiology. Note that it is not conductive pedagogy/conductive upbringing as such that is the oddball here: only 'Conductive Education' as defined under points 2 and 3 above.
  4. Until CE shakes off medical delineation of its applicability then it will remain outside special education and, since is is outside medicine too, it will remain in Limbo. Limbo is not necessarily a bad situation in itself but it has on-the-ground implications that limit CE's application in the real world and, more importantly, in the long run it cuts CE off from carving out a future niche in its more 'natural home': education.
  5. There is another major gap in the cosmology of CE's knowable universe. It has often been remarked that a dangerous Black Hole within Conductive Education is that conductive pedagogy is not often explicitly described – never mind investigated. But bigger still is the Dark Matter that is everywhere, unseen. For want of a better word from elsewhere I refer to this as 'conductive kinaesiology', probably not a very good expression but the best that I have. By this I mean Conductive Education's knowledge of movement.  I suspect that most of knowledge is implicit, be it from whatever source. learned from Nelly or even autodidactically. It is not written down and the question must remain open whether CE even has a specifically conductive knowledge base in this respect, to share with and/or distinguish it from other intervention approaches (I rather suspect that it does).
  6. If there is a conductive kinaesiology, then I presume that this is conceptually distinct from conductive pedagogy but interacts with it both practically and theoretically.
  7. Granting point 7, then conductive kinaesiology may rather more related to diagnostic condition (though no necessarily linearly so) than is conductive pedagogy.
  8. Nit picking? Perhaps. But the present alternative of blanket terms lets down CE and its potential beneficiaries (clients) – and rnders it almost impossible to discuss. Of course, as with developmental stages for example, CE may be 'done' differently according to different physiological manifestations which may show a tendency to reflect broad diagnostic categories – and sometimes a surprising capacity not to! If CE is to confront such distinctions and tease out its own corresponding distinctive responses, then perhaps it would help not simply to distinguish the conductive from the pedagogic but also the pedagogic from then kinaesiological (please, do help me with a better word here, if there is one).
  9. Why just 'motor disorders'? Presumably the answer this lies in point 2 above, that is these are what the Institute for Motor Disorder (State or Pető) have done in Budapest within living memory. There is, however, nothing written down – no history – to say what it did before, and how,nothing published, anyway. Out in 'the West' slight breaches have been made in the motor-disorders position, for example by those who have worked with so-called 'dyspraxia' and motor delays, but there has been no radical move out into other, more distinct areas. If there is indeed a discernible 'Pető method' within the broader body-mind approach to healing that his work appears to have represented (and believe it or not, even this has yet to be adequately described), then perhaps it is time for those with experiences and implicit skills/knowledge – for the most part focussed within application to a single motor disorder – to get on their bikes and see what might be profitably exercised  exercised in pastures new.
  10. And stop limiting what they might potentially achieve by talking first and foremost about conditions. They are first and foremost pedagogues, after all.

Mallett, S. (2010) Muscular dystrophy and a conductive upbringing, Conductor, 21 June

Sutton, A. (2010) CE and muscular dystrophy, Conductive World, 29 June

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