Saturday, 31 July 2010

Summer again already

Then what?

A year ago Conductive World published a long posting welcoming the lazy, hazy days of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Nothing seems to have changed much at one level. There is certainly no reason to say any of it again: it is still there if new readers should like to see it, typos and all:


Just one song to add perhaps, before somebody jumps in and adds it for me, Nat King Cole's Lazy, crazy hazy days of summer:


Indian summer?

A couple of sentences amuse me. I wrote that, for me –

...there will be no 'new term' to serve as deadline and the 'holiday' stretches into an indeterminate future. There are no longer any work-imposed deadlines. Ever.

It did not work out that way. By October Conductive World was de facto a daily publication. It seemed reasonable to recognise this and accept it as a discipline. As Bob Dylan supposely said:

It's what I do: its my work.

Anyway, one can hardly just stand by watching while the rain crashes. Tom Jones (What good am I? just released) sings –

What good am I – if I know and don’t do
If I see and don’t say?


Dreadful doggerel but it makes the point.

Over the year I have got used to working for nothing. Over the year to come many will join me in that salary bracket. I do hope that some of them who come from CE will wish to find ways of continuing their contribution in some way, even though no longer paid.

The visual image of CE

Be so very careful with it, please

Back at the start of 1988, in Birmingham, England, we launched the first real conductive centre in the UK (whatever fantasist histories you read to the contrary!). The money to pay for this did not grow on trees. It had to be fought for, every penny. In those days this was done entirely through voluntary (charitable) fundraising – and this meant publicity, and publicity meant pictures.

In those days the pictures were mainly in the form of still photographs.

Conflicts of interest

The first problem of course was that anything 'still' is by definition a poor way of catching movement (unless of course you are going for some particular stylistic effect). In the context of motor disorders and Conductive Education, this meant that still photos could be outrightly misleading, snatching and retaining just an instant cross-section from out of a sequence, a period of time. Sports photographers are old hands at all this, both its pluses and its minuses! It was very hard to come up with photographic images that were both meaningful to the process and would have the sort of public appeal that might appeal to potential donors.

Secondly, then, came the second problem. Some still photos so obtined looked extraordinarily appealing. Perhaps they were 'cute', perhaps they showed a child apparently smiling, but actually they were awful. A conductor's typcal response might then be: 'My God, you can't show that, look where his leg is', or 'Look at that posture...' Mine would often be 'That's not a smile...'.

We had a golden rule: vet all photographic images before releasing them for publication (and that went for those of visiting photographers too, including from the press) – and do not let through the technically deleterious.

Intellectually and morally dishonest? Maybe. But we owed it to Conductive Education that its visual reputation should not be mired by images of our own inadequacies.

Still going on

I was reminded of this by an email received this afternoon from a conductor-correspondent, a most indignant email about a series of photographs that she had just seen published on line, recounting one of this summer's summer schools Inter alia, she wrote –

...the photos on the website below are some of the worst I have ever seen. What a mess!!! Why do conductors allow such photos to be posted in a website. It looks like torture to me!

Of course, we do not know the circumstances. Maybe these were simply snapshots that fond parents took of their work without the conductors' permission or even awareness. Maybe theconductors did know and did protest – but nobody took any notice. It remains, however, that here was a situation with no proper control of the CE's public visual image and I see what my corresponded means. What a mess.

Who knows, maybe the overall work of conductors the involved was brilliant,in which the effects both for children and families were correspondingly beneficial.

Let us hope that any such effects last a long time. Let us also recognise that those images might be floating around for years.

This problem was such a routine feature of our work. I know that other places subsequently experienced it too. Yet I have never heard or read it explicitly discussed. Does that matter? Yes, well actually it does.

Every year new people come on stream, organising that or organising that. Why on Earth should they be left to discover all this again for themselves? What are conductors taught about in their initial training to alert them to some of the in-practice experience of Conductive Education over the last twenty or so years. What responsibilities do those currently doing the work have towards the newbies around them? What are some of those grand-sounding organisations actually for?

Wasted opportunities. Conductive Education suffers and its future is the poorer for it.

'Pheasants, labradors & Nigerian dwarf goats'

Good luck to them … maybe CE should learn!

It is always nice to see the ways in which awareness of the term 'Conductive Education' seeps into a culture, here American culture.

American culture is highly commercial so, especially if you are American, you are probably well aware of the following sort of marketing.

Here is a straightforward way of doing it. You take a word, ('conductive' for example) and print a long list of phrases in which it commonly occurs and which people might conceivably search for on the Internet. Then you add this list to your website.

Presto! Lots of people visit your website who would probably never otherwise come. If enough turn up and you have an attractive product – Bingo, you have a sale.

Here is an inoffensive example: they sound like nice people and, if I wanted a Nigerian dwarf goat (I don't) I should be grateful for the contact:


It is an jolly and attractive site with some interesting onward links, more so in both respects than many within CE, and does no particular harm to Conductive Education – but it does represent one further example of how searches in the CE sector are increasingly clogged by 'noise' on the Internet, and in America of all places a lot of that noise is commercial!

By the way, does anyone out there know what this sort of marketing is called?

Maybe CE programs ought to learn from this and adopt the method themselves...

Friday, 30 July 2010

Hong Kong Congress

Early Bird Registration extended

This morning, SAHK made the following announcement –

In response to the request, we are pleased to announce that the deadline for early bird registration has been extended to 31 August 2010.  .

Following extension of the deadline for submitting abstracts, SAHK received a rush of late applicants. CE conferences are thin on the ground these days. ACENAs' upcoming conference in Toronto is possibly the one occasion at which some people might hear of this special offer – are there any others? It would be a shame if some people/organisations were to go to unnecessary expense. Do let folk know who are considering possible registration..

For registration, go to:


Remember, Early Bird Registration involves a significant financial saving!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Forum closed

What future for on-line CE-forums

Conductive Education Communications Center has solve its immediate forum problem – invasion by inappropriate Internet traders – by taking its forum off line.

The rest of Conductive Education Communications Center remains on line.

Presumably the old adage applies: use it or lose it.

A previous item refers:


Conductive Education's online forums

The only US-based forum left online is ACENA's – for members only. The facility has been barely used:


The Hungarian-language forum of the now suspended Konduktor web portal was barely used either:


The German-language forum of the Bundesverband der in Deutschland tätigen KonduktorInnen e.V. has just about ticked over, mainly as a conductors' job centre:


The English-language Conductive Community Forum also continues to ticks over slowly, but generates little steam:


Do people in Conductive Education really have no information that they want to exchange, is there nothing that they would like to learn from each other? Are there no problems to share, argue over, help each other with?

Online forums continue to flourish in other sectors in response to such communication needs. Is is the forum format somehow peculiarly unsuited to the fragile culture and insecure context of Conductive Education? Could it be that, to some degree perhaps, for the moment such a  peculiarity is better catered for by two newer online structures: social networking and blogging:
  • Facebook and others offer unprecedented opportunity to express one's view publicly with little chance of critical comment and discussion – the way things presently are, anyway.
  • In as far as there is any public, online informational function or debate happening in Conductive Education, this is presently done on the CE-blogosphere.
Both these have their advantages but they have their limits too. Go on, be bold, try out the CE-forums currently in operation – but nor for the purpose of dodgy Internet trading, please!

Poster presentations for the World Congress

Some guidelines and suggestions from the organisers

The following are suggestions only –
Guidelines for Poster Presentation
Location and poster panel
Poster sessions will be held at foyer area of the Congress venue. Each poster will be assigned a numbered display board (dimension: W 1000mm × H 2500mm).
Designated poster session
There will be a particular time designated in the programme for the authors to discuss their posters with Congress participants. Instructions about the day and time of the designated session and the number of the allocated display board will be given in advance to the first author (or presenter) of the accepted posters.
Poster set-up and requirements
Posters should be set up onto the allocated display board during 7:45am – 8:30am on 6 Dec 2010 (Mon). Poster size should be within W 910 mm (36 inches) × H 1830 mm (72 inches) in size and in portrait orientation. Adhesive Velcro dots or Blu-Tack can
be used to mount the poster on the board. Push pins are NOT allowed. NO multimedia facilities will be provided.
Presentation tips
When the time of the designated poster session arrives, the poster author/presenter will be expected to stand next to his/her poster for approximately 30 minutes, answering questions from those who stop to read his/her poster.
Planning the poster
1. Choose a poster style: one piece roll-up poster (e.g., A0 size of 841mm × 1189mm); individual columns (e.g., 3 columns of 280mm width); or individual pages (e.g., standard Letter size of 8.5 inches × 11 inches attached on colour card
board);
2. Suggested Font Sizes (for reference only):
Title: 96 pt
Authors: 72 pt
Affiliations: 36-48 pt
Section headings: 36 pt
Text: 24 pt
References: 18 pt;
3. Lots of fancy things can be done, limited only by time, energy, and creativity;
4. For one-piece poster design, there are collections of PowerPoint poster templates available as free download from the internet (e.g. www.PosterPresentations.com). Download the desired PowerPoint poster template, add text, images and graphics and send it to a printing company for printing. Roll up the printed poster and keep it in a poster tube for easy carrying....



As a poster-presenter myself I am aware of specific questions arising, For example: 'How high above floor level will the foot of the poster be, as this determines the hight of the top? If you do have further questions on poster presentations at the Congress, please do not address them to Conductive World, but to the Congress Secretariat:

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Center for Conductive Education and Cerebral Palsy Studies

Major development by Tsad Kadima in Israel

The Center of Conductive Education and Cerebral Palsy Studies opens its gates on 1 September, to provide for the first time an Israeli three-year course towards a Conductor Diploma.
The course is under the auspices of the Israeli Ministry of Education, with the collaboration of the Levinsky College of Education in Tel-Aviv and the Pető Institute in Budapest.
Nine graduates of Special Education (BEd/BA) have enrolled in the first intake of students.
Up till now, more than seventy Israeli conductors have qualified through through the Pető Institute in a variety of of collaborative arrangements with Tsad Kadima..
For Tsad Kadima this is another step forward in the assimilation of Conductive Education in Israel.
Tsad Kadima thanks all those partners who have carefully accompanied the process, encouraged and approved it.

Further information


This runs something as follows –

This course is sponsored by the Ministry of Education Special Education Division, in conjunction with Tsad Kadima, the Levinsky College of Education and the International Pető Institute, Budapest, Hungary.
The programme
Special education teachers will specialise as conductors to work with cerebral palsy and with limited motor skills.
A conductor is a special education teacher specialising in .Conductive Education' for cerebral palsy, drawing expertise from the theory of Conductive Education and bodies of knowledge from the educational, rehabilitative, therapeutic and medical fields. The conductor's practice offers those with cerebral palsy an integrated developmental environment for optimal learning, personal development and functional integration.
The program comprises three years' academic courses of study, to include practical experience combined with broad theoretical understanding. Studies include an exciting variety of courses in such fields of knowledge as the theory of Conductive Education, medicine and rehabilitation, and psychology. Theoretical and applied learning will be completed by acquiring on-the-job skills....
The programme's instructors are professionals, experts and academics from Israel and abroad. Teaching methods include lectures, observations, workshops, and personal training experience.
Successful completion of the course will confer the certificate of Rehabilitation Educator.
Among subjects studied
• guide to educational theory
◦ History, basic concepts and principles
◦ the Conductive Education environment
◦ guidance and leadership
◦ evaluation and documentation
• biology, medicine
◦ neuro-anatomy, anatomy
◦ cerebral palsy and related defects
◦ medical issues in people with cerebral palsy
• rehabilitation
◦ [something beyond my translation skills!]
◦ assistive technology devices
◦ health professions
• psychology
◦ life-span developmental psychology of the people with paralyses
◦ the core of learning [translator's guess!]
Eligibility
Special educators with a bachelor's degree (BA or BEd) and at least a teaching certificate in special education.
Special education students in their final academic year (internship)
Applicants up to age 30
Personal interview
Practical experience briefly
Admissions Committee
Scope of programme
• The program runs over three years of study  (two + one year internship) totaling approximately 30 hours a week (pure and applied theoretical studies)
• The school week is five days and includes two days' theoretical learning (courses + observations) and three days' guided practical learning.
• The third year is a one-year supervised internship of mainly practical learning.
Scholarships
Scholarships will be awarded to students in the program during their studies.
Proficiency
The plan will be submitted for recognition of proficiency (120 hours a year) through the the Ministry of Education.
Commitment
Programme graduates will be committed to work in education/special education in Israel for six years from the end of their studies.
About Tsad Kadima
The Tsad Kadima  Conductive Educationorganisation was founded by a group of parents of children with cerebral palsy and professionals in 1987. Tsad Kadima's approach has led to transfer Conductive Education from Hungary across to the education and rehabilitation system in Israel, has developed educational-rehabilitation settings throughout the country, and dealt with training of conductors for many years.
Tsad Kadima is a young and dynamic organization, constantly evolving according to the changing needs of its customers, who are children, adolescents and adults with paralyses, parents, families and students.
Head of Programme
Dr. Ronnie Schenker, Professional Director of Tsad Kadima. Dr. Schenker has a Ph.D. in occupational therapy at Hadassah Hebrew University of Jerusalem... Dr. Schenker specializes in cerebral palsy and has extensive experience of practice in this field, and of teaching and research applications.
For more information and registration:
Tsad Kadima
Tel: 02-6540062
Fax: 02-6540069
Levinsky College of Education, Graduate School
Tel: 03-6902482/3
Commencement of the program depends on the number of students accepted.
Download Registration Form

The above translation

Do not take it as gospel.

My main qualification for making the above translation is not knowing a single word of Hebrew, other than the names of the first two letters of its alphabet.

I do, however, know how to cut and paste into and out of Google Translate, I have had a lot of contact with Rony over the last couple of years so I knew the general outline of what is described here before I read it, and I have translated from foreign languages enough in the past to risk a little creativity!

Where these three have failed me, then I have left a blank.

I would be grateful for any corrections etc. that those many better qualified would like to offer.

Meanwhile, put them together for Rony and her colleagues, and for all those who have stood behind and contributed to the development of all this for more than twenty years now.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Dangerous hulks

Toxic cargoes
Cyberspace has its own Sargasso Sea of derelict, abandoned, wrecked, dead websites. Round and round the current swirls, picking up ever more cuber-junk and, terrible to see, even  rotting carcases just won't sink. Instead the flotsam piles up higher and higher – and floating amidst the small stuff are the wrecks of some big ventures, some of these are potentially perilous to the incautious cybenaut.

Earlier today there was reason to mention the big, sombulant Hungarian site Konductor. This is a benign wreck, a Marie Celeste, abandoned by its crew for no apparent reason, its clock still ticking. It is not a danger to anyone, more like a tended tourist attraction. Climb aboard to see a sad might-have-been:


Three weeks ago, mention was made on Conductive World of the Conductive Education Communications Center, now seemingly moribund – apart from its Forum, which is filling up with already approaching three-thousand links to financial offers, gambling sites, dodgy pharmaceuticals and pornography:


Since then I had reason to look at the site of the Inter-American Conductive Education Association. It too seemed abandoned, but I saw that its Forums page was still running and had been taken over by a similar motley crew.


Checking back on this Forums page this evening I cannot get in, so maybe the owners have taken this matter in hand by closing it down.

Sites set up with the best and most noble intentions in the world are vulnerable to unwelcome stowaways if they are left unmonitored and unmanaged, These large, unchecked websites are very visible, with prominent positions within their subjects on the major search engines. At the every least their unintended content must give a disturbing public impression of Conductive Education to anyone who explores them.

Conductive Education has no corporate identity and therefore there is no one with responsibility to act on such situations.

Three weeks ago I suggested that ACENA might do something. about the Forum pages on Conductive Education Communications Center. Maybe such action falls by default to individual citizens – presumably in this instance American citizens as the site in question is based in the United States – to make their own representations to its owners..

Conductive World has readers aplenty on the USA. Over to you. 

Recent mentions of these three sites

Lost in space – II

A true Marie Celeste

Drifting empty and abandoned in Cyberspace is the empty hulk of the once lavish Hungarian website Konduktor:


This ran from 2006 to 2008. Its design was extraordinarily lush and it carried a wide range of informational pages, a blog and a forum. The language was Hungarian.

It is still there for anyone to find and tiptoe aboard. Most of its informational pages are no longer available but its forum is still there (last entry, June 2008). The clock ticks on but most systems are closed down (I have just tried to register for example: I could fill in my details but it would not accept them).

The last job advert was dated 31 March of this year:


This 'portal' looks just what Hungarian conductors might have needed – and perhaps still do. That is is still up there at all, shipshape and tidy (not invaded by pirate adverts for porn, drugs and the like, as are the two big, derelict US sites), suggests that Gabi might one day reactivate it.

I do hope so.

Gabi? Gabi who?

I don't know. Can anybody help?

What happened?

Psychological testing

Come on, this is 2010

A couple of evenings ago, quite late, I received an email from a friend. It was even later for her, a couple of time ones so, but she is a bit of a night owl. She simply sent me a URL for a abstract of a research paper just being published:


I do not know why she sent me this but, if it was to tease, then she certainly succeeded! I wote back immediately, with a quick, off-the-cuff spoof:
ABSTRACT OF ABSTRACT
Aim The aim of this study was to describe, then go beyond the data.. 
Method  The usual ritual measurements were taken, wholly of the state of how things were when they were found, using at least two measuring procedures of exceeding dubiety. 
Results The usual sums were done to justify proclaiming the self-evident. 
Interpretation For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. This age old adage is followed by what look like non sequitur  suggestions that require a quite different research paradigm, and that we all know will not work.

Of course, on the basis of the Abstract alone I might be misjudging the study!
PS   It's too late at night to check these people's disciplines. Why, though, on the basis of the details given, is it considered satisfactory for non-psychologists to study psychological causes and psychological effects whilst a mere psychologist would be hooted off the court for trying to do their jobs (quite rightly too).  I qualified as a psychologist in 1966 and this study of psychological phenomena would have been slow-hand-clapped off even then. The Vineland and the Leiter (the latter for children with motor disorders!!!): this isn't a refereed journal, it's a conspiracy...

Then I felt a little guilty... and wondered how unreasonable I might have been. So before switching off for the night I did a very quick dip into Google, to see what it says about the Vineland Social Maturity Scale (one if two antediluvian psychometric instruments used in this study), and sent her the following URL as a PS:


In the cool light of day, had I been unreasonably brusque about this study? Why, however, does it bother with the 'obsolete' Vineland Social Maturity Scale, already obsolete when I first met it in the mid-sicties. As for the Leiter International Performance Scale, this had first appeared in 1929, boom years for psychometrics in the hay-day of US racist immigration policy. I see that it is presently enjoying an Indian Summer in testing children with motor disorders. Presumably somewhere this has been justified psychometrically But in what other sphere of your life would you expect to use an 'instrument' designed in 1929 – or even 1943 – for whatever purpose, without at least questioning closely whether this would really be a sensible thing to do?

Maybe I was being too brusque, and this harmless-in-itself little study deserves no such response. If so, I apologise for any offence. Maybe, however, I was not being brusque enough and one should be prepared to fire a broadside at every minor sloppiness as the only way to raise standards all round.

Personally, I incline towards the latter – but I cannot be bothered. Surely there are those out there who would find it to their benefit to clean this Augean stable. Just maybe, though, where something impacts directly upon Conductive Education, then perhaps I shall try both barrels.

Monday, 26 July 2010

A job for a conductor

But not as a conductor

I knew a bloke once. He said that he hated psychologists. He called them parasites upon society and upon more productive people. He regarded the professional skills of those who earned a living as psychologists as bogus and self-indulgent. He did not put any of this as politely as I have here, indeed he used to be quite rude about them.

He was a psychologist himself, which granted him a certain entitlement to speak in this way. Indeed, he was head of a large psychology department at a British university.

I was visiting him one day some years back to talk about a PhD student whom we were jointly supervising, and over lunch he had his usual rant about psychologists' being a total waste of space. 'But,' I protested.'you have just been boasting to me that your own psychology department now churns out more psychology graduates each year than any other psychology department in the country.'

'Ah yes', he said, 'but hardly any of them go on to jobs as psychologists. They get all sorts of jobs, in all sorts of fields, doing all sorts of things – and they do them all the better for having a good undergraduate education in psychology. I'd hate it if they became psychologists, what a terrible waste that would be' (again, expletives deleted).

I have to admit despair when I come across so much of the work of psychologists, where it abuts on to the CE sector, and elsewhere too. What appalling tosh most of it is, made all the worse by a singular lack of moral fibre. What criminal misuse of public money. All this notwithstanding, I retain a sneaking regard for a psychological education – and I have my own entitlement for this, from a very long time ago.

I still try to keep abreast, I look at The Psychologist most months to see what psychologists are up to. My flesh crawls when I see the preposterousness and futility of so many of their preoccupations, and it has granted me considerable Schadenfreude to see the appalling, disastrous consequences of their naive, expensive political campaign to become 'recognised as professionals'. Even so, I still find things of interest there in the rag. I still feel an affinity...

A month ago I met a former (psychology) student of mine, now retired. Our paths have diverged widely but is was so easy to talk. I felt an affinity. I was with with one of my own.

Even so, for a very long time now, when someone says – as people do – 'But you're a psychologist', I have whipped back with 'I am most certainly not. I have not done any psychology for years', by which token I stopped being a psychologist around 1984 or slightly before. After 1984, I was an odd-job jack-of-all-trades in Conductive Education, to which role the discipline of psychology certainly has made some sort of contribution, however much I deprecate persisting biologistic and deterministic tendencies within Western psychologies.

A job in New Zealand

I have been told about an interesting  job going in New Zealand:

Lifestyle Coordinator / Community Connector
Location Waikato
Date now
Exciting New Role
Do you want to be part of an organisation whose purpose is to help people be 'the very best they can be'? IRIS is an organisation that is driven by the courage and persistence of people who deal with the challenge of disability every day.
Community Connector
The Community Connector position is a dynamic role that requires a person with a high level of energy, patience and someone who wants to make a difference to people's lives. You will be a member of our Hamilton Community Living team, working between 30 and 35 hours per week.
One of the key responsibilities of this role will be helping clients to develop and then achieve their personal goals. This will involve building strong relationships with leaders, teachers and influencers within your local community.
Specific areas of responsibility include:
  • Assist in the development of person centred plans with each person in the service
  • Supporting people to achieve their goals
  • Working across multidisciplinary teams within IRIS
  • Building relationships within the community
  • Working with different groups, associations and clubs in the local community to create opportunities for our people to attend classes or courses
  • Working with community groups to develop specific activities that will meet the needs of our people
Planning and coordinating each day and week to ensure our people can take part in all activities.
You will have experience in working in a community setting together with an advanced knowledge and understanding of disabilities. You will also be familiar with your community and the resources available.  Preferably you will have a health or social service related qualification.
If this sounds like the opportunity you have been looking for, then apply online today!


There could be nobody specifically trained for such and odd-job, jack-of-all-trades job. The right person, from all sorts of backgrounds, could make a good fist of it – even a psychologist.

But the right conductor might do it better than anybody.

Report from Vietnam

Latest stage in Stephanie Driver's work

Stephanie Driver fell in love with Vietnam on a spur-of-the moment visit in 1999. She was back in 2000, teaching English, and visited an orphanage for children with physical disabilities.. She volunteered to help out, started leaning the language and realised that what she wanted to do. Two years later she came home to England, to become a conductor.

During her training at the National Institute she returned to Vietnam whenever she could, to broaden her experience and advance her language. Her dissertation was a feasibility study for CE in Vietnam (a very nice one, I know because I had the pleasure of tutoring it). She graduated in 2005 and was off back to Vietnam, an English-speaking British conductor in a country that was already changing fast but where services for disabled and other needy children have such a long road ahead of them...

How long a road? Glimpse this from the latest issue of CHIA News from the charity Children's Hope in Action, which includes a brief report on her work.

As in many countries (not just developing ones), every principle, everything that conductors do is about as opposite as can be to the local culture for understanding and dealing with disabled children. Stephanie's task includes this, the problem of finding an employment/institutional niche to support development of what she wants to do, and material and other conditions some of which may be gauged from the rest of CHIA's newsletter

Conductive Education may think that it has a hard time of it, and wonder how it is is going to manage during the age of austerity. Stephanie and these others who extend CE far beyond its usual bounds around the world offer a salutary message.

References

Driver, S. (2009) Vietnam: a chronicle, in G. Maguire and A. Sutton (eds) Just do it! Young conductors make their way in their new world, Birmingham, Conductive Education Press, pp. 51-60

Nhu Thuy (2010) Practical and life skills, CHIA News, June
http://www.childrenshopeinaction.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/CHIA-June-2010-Newsletter1.pdf

Stephanie is on Facebook –

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1540593482#!/profile.php?id=544341226&ref=ts
Scroll down – and down – and down – for a fine-grained account of her life and work in Vietnam, and lots and lots of photos.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Karóly and Magda Ákos

Give them the due due, do

As part of the continuing discussion of the mysterious Chinese posting on conductive upbringing, Susie Mallet has pointed out its affinity to the position of the Ákoses' book Dina. My own comment in return is published below –

Thank you for mentioning Karóly and Magda Ákos in this context.

This gives me opportunity to say, again, what a privilege it was to have known them, thoroughgoing representatives of the intelligentsia of Hungary of its time. Such a terrible shame that, though they lived in Vörös Hadsereg útja only a mile or so away from the PAI's spanking new HQ in Kútvölgyi út (which they never visited), they were effectively excluded from Conductive Education in Hungary: another terrible example of the what-might-have-beens of Conductive Education.

Dina

As for their book Dina, now there's another strange story. Gabi Haug published the original German manuscript, in Germany, through the tiny poetry publishing house of Alabanda Verlag. It did not sell. It appears in German-language bibliographies but its effects upon practice and understandings have been negligible, and Gabi's attempt to establish the parental self-help network that the Ákoses had advocated are now lost in the mists of history.

I published an English translation of the German text through the Foundation for Conductive Education. That did not sell either. This was long before the days of print-on-demand publishing and, if I recall, we were left with some seven or eight hundred copies on our hands, Gill Maguire and I tried to push the book over the years that followed but sales were at best only a tiny trickle. The Foundation lost quite a bit of money over this adventure and the Ákoses never made a penny from their efforts. There is no apparent sign of its existence in present-day CE in any of the English-speaking countries.

Gabi and concluded that the rival image (icon) of Conductive Education, comprising some amazing things that conductors did to children on parents' behalf, was just too beguiling. In social-policy terms, the image of 'institutional Conductive Education' as the Ákoses called it – in contrast to parental Conductive Education, has proved a disaster. Its 'solution' to the Conductive Education's availability problem is self-evidently unattainable: that all that is needed is more and more conductors, and more and more centres/programs for them to work in. Realistically, there will never be enough for all but a privileged minority.  The Ákoses' sterner vision, of something that is primarily the responsibility of parents themselves, may be more attainable in terms of social policy but ultimately could not compete for the attention of the conductive world with the siren songs of 'find a conductor' and 'open a centre'. .
The English translation of Dina was also published in Chinese translation, by what is now SAHK, but does not appear to have penetrated the Chinese CE culture. There was also a Russian translation, produced in Moscow by the publishing house Uliss. I have found no trace of Uliss for some years now. I wonder what happened to the copies that it had printed – pulped, or mouldering in some warehouse? I have certainly see little sign of the book's existence or influence in Russian-language Cyberspace.

There was never a translation into Hungarian and I suspect that most Hungarian-trained conductors will not have heard of it. In Hungary, as elsewhere, the Ákoses' names seem to have been effectively struck from the cartouches!

Potentially one of most influential and important books in Conductive Education has vanished almost without trace. Talk about lost chances and what-might-have beens!

Thank you, Susie, for helping bring them their due.

References

Ákos, K., Ákos, M. Dina: a mother practises Conductive Education (Pető System), Birmingham, Foundation for Conductive Education, and Ulm, Alabanda Verlag
Quite a lot of this book are available free on line, through Google books:

Mallett, S. (2010) How to 'ignite children's enthusiasm', Conductor, 23 July

Sutton, A. (2008) Poetry, and philosophy of science, Conductive World, 29 March
(There have been plenty of mentions of the Ákoses on Conductive World.)

Saturday, 24 July 2010

I do like a nice allegory

Is this one instructive?

It dates from not too long ago and recounts the transfer of production to China of Hornby, a major British (and European) model-train manufacturer.

Economics have changed somewhat over the last five years but the shortage of conductors worldwide has not, and the persisting failure of 'the West' to solve its own supply problems in this respect should now be apparent to all.

Read the following, with Conductive Education and the production of conductors in mind, rather than model railways and train sets:


After all, the notion of a foreign workforce is now an implicit given in the provision of CE centres/programs around the world, and there is no a priori reason why CE practitioners should hail from one country rather than any other.

The Conductive Education movement's grasp of China in the West has been remarkably limited, seemingly extending little beyond sponsored walks along the Great Wall to raise individual sums for small local charitable projects – or the possibility of selling personal consultancy services. Already in the real world outside, however, there is already extensive experience of a quite different scale and quality of involvement. Tim Moore of SGAI, Tech of Cambridge and Hong Kong,put it like this –

China is a train coming down the track fast. You can either get on, or stand in the way and get mown down. We chose to get on board, and have really benefited.

Or, as V. I. Lenin might have put it –

Conductive Education is a big red locomotive.

Conductive Education had certainly seemed to promise just this in the West twenty or so years ago. Not any more. Maybe it is in China, though, and there may just yet be ways to couple CE's train to this prime mover, to mutual benefit as in the example of Hornby. 

Something else for CE folk to think about, and it should not take the International­Congress in Hong Kong in December to make them do so.

References

Keenlyside, H. (n.d.) On the right track, Chinese-Britain Business Review Archive

I am indebted to Susie Mallett for sending me this URL.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Manufactured gobblegook

As if there were not enough already

The poor old Internet. Such amazing technical advances, and such idiots (well meaning as well as evil) eager to use them. And there is no reason why Conductive Education should not take a share of all this.

Look at three of this morning's new blog postings on Conductive Education, as notified by Google Alerts.

Two of these have been posted on Wordpress, and both look like they are machine translations into English from foreign languages. The third is something different.
  • The first, the longer one, just might be sensible and interesting. It concerns family conductive upbringing – or maybe it does not! It might be transalated from Chinese.
  • The second, is about Parkinson's. Who knows where the second comes from. Mária Hári becomes 'Mary Day', a clue there for somebody multilingual.
  • The third is possibly from a Romance language – it speaks of 'EC' – and seems offered as a cribbing service!
The production process is presumably to cut and paste from some text that is available electronically in whatever language, put this through a machine translation to render into English, then post the result as your own work. The whole job need take no more than twenty seconds or so, with results that look satisfactorily convincing if you do not speak English.

You could knock up a storm of these things in no time at all. But why? There must surely be a motive. Is there money to be made here? The third site also offers to introduce me to Ukranian ladies, so maybe there is. Let us hope that whatever the motivation it is will pass before we all become heartily sick of this new kind of cyberjunk.

References

– (2010) How to ignite children's enthusiasm, Chanelbags, 23 July

– (2010) History of Conductive Education, Cardboard Institute, 23 July

Miranda, D. (2010) Free content for your website or blog, Article Ally, 19 July

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Expansion blocked

Petition raised

Times may be hard but there are still CE organisations seeking to expand – and money is not then necessary the only problem. Legacy Rainbow House in Lancashire, England has had ambitious development plans turned down by the Chorley Council's planning committee as constituting over-development within the Green Belt.

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=643047174#!/note.php?note_id=418295529118&id=44392608429&ref=mf

Legacy Rainbow House is now inviting signatures to a public petition:


Reference

Byrne, M. (2010) Plans to create new rehabilitation unit at The Legacy Rainbow House rejected by Chorley Council, Ormskirk Advertiser, 1 July

CE administrators again

Not CE's only marginal group

Taken for granted within Conductive Education, marginal, lacking coherent identity or audible voice, not a a matter for explicit consideration, of low priority compared with other elements that go to ensure the continuance of the worldwide Conductive Movement... I wonder whether just one 'administrator' will even see these words.

Yet this week Iris Conductive Education in Auckland, New Zealand has been putting considerable effort and presumably expense into advertising to find the right person to serve as one:


And today Conductive Education of Dallas, Texas, lends its name to the cause of their affordable training:


Just a coincidence, but a happy one in drawing attention to an important sub-sector.

Who are they, what do they do, what are they worth...?

One wonders whether there will be a single presentation, oral or visual, about administering Conductive Education centres and programs at the World Congress in Hong Kong this December, or will everyone else be just taking them for granted (as usual)?

Administrators are not of course the only 'invisible' group, without whom in many cases little might be possible – assistants (variously termed) spring immediately to mind – also with little or no voice at the table of the mighty.

Previously mentions

Administrators have been mentioned but once on Conductive World (shame):


Assistants have fared rather better. Here is what a quick search brings up:


Looks quite a lo but it is all about assistants, nothing from arising assistants themselves.

Most disenfranchising. Typical.

And what about all those hundreds and hundreds, some paid but most of them volunteers, who raise so much of the money that keeps the whole show on the road... Isn't everybody else lucky?

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Signing the pledge

It seems to fit, mainly

BLOG WITH INTEGRITY
By displaying the Blog with Integrity badge or signing the pledge, I assert that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is important to me.
I treat others respectfully, attacking ideas and not people. I also welcome respectful disagreement with my own ideas.
I believe in intellectual property rights, providing links, citing sources, and crediting inspiration where appropriate.
I disclose my material relationships, policies and business practices. My readers will know the difference between editorial, advertorial, and advertising, should I choose to have it. If I do sponsored or paid posts, they are clearly marked.
When collaborating with marketers and PR professionals, I handle myself professionally and abide by basic journalistic standards.
I always present my honest opinions to the best of my ability.
I own my words. Even if I occasionally have to eat them.

I think that all the above terms have been consistently fulfilled implicitly by Conductive World, so the pledge has been signed and the badge displayed to make these explicit.

Terminological caveat

Just one little problem. I can hardly 'handle myself professionally' since, whatever 'handle myself'' means (a most unfortunate choice of phrase, certainly for speakers of British English), I do not get paid a penny for it. I am not therefore a professional, paid for my services, but very much an amateur – I do it out love.

There is a tendency, especially amongst those who advocate the virtues of 'professionalism', that use of this word implies necessarily superior skill or even greater moral worth. I could hardly subscribe to such a harmful myth!

Instead, I take it that this part of the pledge's wording has been written in all innocence, with the offending clause meaning simply 'I act openly and honestly' (hardly a characteristic mode of behaviour for many of the paid professionals that life has brought my way)..

It is in this understanding that I have subscribed. I will of course withdraw from this scheme if I my assumption proves wrong.

Reference

– (2009–) Blog with Integrity

Nothing to do with CE-blogging

And everything to do with it

Read this brief item, and watch the embedded video from NBC's Today news programme of 9 April.


They do help see the extraordinary US disability blogosphere in context but they do something else too. The phenomenon aired here – or rathert the fear of it – applies not just to the US and not just to Moms. Others may experience or fear it too, in which case the measured advice of the two ladies interviewed should prove reassuring.

Reference

– (2010) Mommy meanest? The dark side of mom blogs, Today Moms, 9 April

Nothing to do with Conductive Education

And a lot to do with it

I know that I am not the only person concerned for Conductive Education to have stumbled across items in Polly Palumbo's  critical blog:
Polly Palumbo, Ph.D.
I'm a child-research junkie who cringes at botched, stretched, and simplistic media accounts of the latest study. As a psychologist, former researcher, and mother of three I believe parents deserve more nuanced evidence about children's health and well-being. Nothing irritates me like the flawed studies that get as much attention as the good ones. I pledge to set the record straight and tell you what the science really says - whether it contradicts famous pediatricians who write best-selling books, behemoth parenting websites, celebrity moms/activists, or sloppy researchers with their scientific mumbo jumbo. To this end, Momma Data is an independent, non-profit educational organization that does not accept any funding or advertising but welcomes reason, respect for science, respect for a mother's gut instinct, and let's not forget, a sense of humor.


She has some useful onward links too.

There is nothing that applies to all children that does not arise for children with motor disorders and their families. At this specific level, if you bring up or work with children with motor disorders, you should find something of interest here:

A check on the science behind parenting advice and news: What studies really show about breastfeeding, autism and vaccines, peanut allergies, ADHD, sensory perception disorder, cyber-bullying, plastic baby bottles, eating disorders, obesity, day care and other controversial issues.

More generally, she demonstrates the sort of positive, public, critical voice that is now up and running in Conductive Education – but is still so very much in the minority. CE needs much more of this sort of thing:

The unpolished, non-partisan, non-politically correct, no-nonsense science behind the claims.

Reference

Palumbo, P. (2007–) Momma data: debunking children's heath news

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us

To see oursels as others see us

No I have not succumbed to the typos and mispellings that characterise my written style, this is Rabbie Burns, writing it as it sounds –

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An' foolish notion
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us
An' ev'n Devotion

This may be translated into Standard English as –

Oh, that God would give us the very smallest of gifts
To be able to see ourselves as others see us
It would save us from many mistakes
and foolish thoughts
We would change the way we look and gesture
and to how and what we apply our time and attention.


And here are some thoughts about Conductive World found on Facebook

...@PacesCEO offers some optimistic blogging to balance out writings of Andrew Sutton... Andrew Sutton, the conductor who runs the blog, Conductive World... Andrew Sutton doesn't rant and rave in this latest post. He actually found some useful information and shares it here... This blog by Andrew Sutton is sometimes all over the map. You sense a certain amount of frustration sometimes...


Oh well, that's me to a T (except that I am not a conductor, heavens forefend!).  I do admit it, though, I am a miserable old git. I wonder why. I was not ever thus, something must have changed me.

So come on folks, accept ACDAT's challenge. Balance things out! Let's have some really good news. Let's have lots of it!

(And by the way, ACDAT, your Fb. page has been going quite some time now, long enough to follow up on what has happened to some earlier, optimistically reported ventures...)

Fundraising

Something completely new?

There is nothing new under the sun but here is a fundraising scheme that may not have been utilised before in Conductive Education. It comes from Legacy Rainbow House, in Lancashire, England:

Corporate Team Building Days

The Legacy Rainbow House is now offering as part of its range of services, the chance to participate in an inspiring and uplifting Team Building day with your work colleagues and managers.
Each day can be tailor made to suit the size of your company and the number of attendees.  We are able to accommodate groups from 6 to 100 people.
TESTIMONIALS
I enjoyed the whole day from start to finish. The variety made the day very enjoyable – JMW Solicitors
My favourite part of the day was seeing the children in their therapy sessions – Friends Provident

http://thelegacy-rainbowhouse.blogspot.com/2010/07/corporate-team-building-days.html

Congratulations to Rainbow House for this nice two-pronged attack up on the two linked problems of sustaining income and widening awareness, especially perhaps the local awareness on which so much successful financial support depends.

Others may wish to look into this approach.. It would be welcome if the people at Rainbow House could say more about what is involved in such experiences and what outcomes are achieved. What are the pluses of doing this, and what the minuss? Money is ever harder to come by, competition for what there is gets tougher and tougher, established mines are being worked dry, and old ways of doing are just that – done. New ways are desperately needed and this one capitalises directly upon Conductive Education's most valuable. property its peopleand what thye do and become.

So especial congratulations in these competitive times for sharing this simple but powerful idea so openly amd generously. Not a lot of people might do this.
Do any other centres or programs have relevant experiences to share? Or is nobody telling?

(BTW, what does it take for participants not to go away testifying about 'children in their therapy sessions'?)