Saturday, 7 August 2010

Look out for China

It has arrived

Here is a Chinese introductory account of Conductive Education, published on line six years ago –

In English, this says something as follows –

Xi'an Chinese Encephalopathy Hospital (2004), Conductive Education, Chinese Encephalopthy Network, 1 April
What is Conductive Education?
Conductive Education is a comprehensive integration of education and rehabilitation systems, targeting central nervous system impairments, such as children suffering from cerebral palsy, and Parkinson's disease or stroke in adults. The system was founded in the city in Budapest, Hungary in 1945 by the Hungarian Professor András Pető and applied at the Pető Institute. The originators of Conductive Education had the idea of the central nervous system that people should not be regarded as having a disability but; on the contrary, remain intact individuals who need need guidance and assistance to learn how to control their own bodily functions and be able to live like ordinary people.
Characteristics of Conductive Education
'Conductive Education' originated in 1945 in the city of Budapest, Hungary. It was targeted at the impaired nervous system, through functional integration of education and treatment into a holistic training system, to nurture development of disordered personality development.
Conductive Education' has the following characteristics:
1. It emphasizes the whole-person concept, namely that the human body and mind are inseparable, with the goal of fostering development of the disabled personality.
2. It evokes clients motivation, to encourage their active participation in developing their own individual functional correction – therefore Conductive Education is a process of education rather than treatment.
3. It stresses that all staff involved in the training program must work closely with the clients' own comprehensive assessment of individual abilities and needs – hence the success of the training programme, with 'team morale" playing a pivotal role.
4. It emphasizes training in groups, through group dynamics and interaction with other team members, so that clients learn the necessary skills themselves and are able to avoid becoming too dependent on the staff and professionals.
5. It stresses that the training day has a coherent plan, so that its every minute may be important for learning. The design of the training programme then uses a natural and effective mode, such as arrangements for clients during meal times (e.g. lunch /dinner) to choose their own food.
6. It emphasises the importance of environmental control, for example special furniture and arranging careful use of space.
7. It emphasises the use of words and rhythm to help clients coordinate motor function.
...This international leader in treatment modalities differs essentially from more traditional massage therapy, children are not passive recipients of external massage, but take an active part in their own treatment, hence its curative effect.

The China syndrome

Expect a growing number of items in Conductive World featuring Conductive Education in China.

This example seems fairly representative. It starts with due acknowledgement of the origins of Conductive Education's first origins, and concludes with the straightforward acceptance that today Conductive Education is the 'international leader in treatment modalities' for cerebral palsy. The article comes from a hospital. It seems to convey a fairly 'deep' understanding of Conductive Education, as a psycho-social and value-driven endeavour.

One cannot help notice that, despite differences in language, cultural and historical distance from the origins of Conductive Education, and a somewhat a shorter time in the game than potentially enjoyed in the West, the unnamed authors of this article from X'ian in Mainland China are already reaching for a deeper understanding of the processes of Conductive Education than do many in 'the West'.

Such articles are therefore of interest outside China not for anthropological and cross-cultural reasons (though they may be interesting in such respects also) but in their own right, for their own intrinsic value as analyses of Conductive Education that are as valid as many published elsewhere – or more so.


I speak not a word of any Chinese language, The above was brought to you with the help of Google Translate, plus a little creative licence! Please, if you know better, then do correct what I have written.


You can find the original Chinese-language article at:

I am sure that the English-language reference that I have offered at the top of this posting is open to question. Help required please to create a more accurate and more formal one.


Xi'an in Central China is no mean city, and an ancient centre of civilisation at that:

The stern terracottachap who serves as my image on FaceBook would have known it well:


  1. Andrew, search Google for 引导式教育

    Prompted by this post of yours, as I note on my blog, I deduced this was "conductive education" in Chinese.

    The result is astounding!

  2. I got 3.870.000 results in 23 seconds!!

    I have only read four of them so far and I am already reading some of the most informative pieces that I have ever read in the internet about Conductive Education.

    Amazing. Thanks Norman.

    I will be telling all newcomers to conductive ubringing to google it in Chineses in the future.

  3. Susie, one question came to mind: do Chinese writers on CE make the distinction between conductive pedagogy and conductive upbringing?

    In other words, do the Chinese have words for these?

  4. Norman, this is a very interesting question. I had already started to wonder about what the Chinese really say as I have been translating these articles first into German then into English then into Hungarian. There is a difference.

    Whereas in English translations I have only read about conductive education, in German translations konduktiv Erzeihung (conductive upbringing) is often mentioned, as well as Bildung (training), Pedagogie and Förderung (development). In Hungarian translations I have read the words pedagogik, nevelés (upbringing,Erziehing) and oktatás (training/Bildung).

    So yes, I suspect that there is a distinction made in Chinese that gets very lost in the English translation.

    It is not only from the German and Hungarian translations that I believe there is a distinction but also from the content of the articles that I have read so far.

    However, I will not rely on my instincts here. I have already written for some assitance on answering your question.

    I will let you know.


  5. My suspicion is that the distinction is evident in all these languages except English!

    Surprising really since one of the glories of the English language is the sheer size of its vocabulary.

  6. Yes it is surprising.

    This discussion has been on the CE blogosphere before.

    I have asked who coined the title conductive education very early on in English, and why? And why did it continue to be used over the past twenty-five years even when many people knew that it was not actually a correct translation?

    In Germany the many names, the Petö Method, Petötherapie, konduktiv Förderung and Erziehung that "CE" receives are usually to do with who is providing the finances. Was this also how the title conductive education came about and stuck in the UK?

    Why did nevelés not get translated correctly into English? Conductive education does not actually exist in the German or the Hungarian languages, as far as I know. Rarely in the English language is a distinction made between upbringing conductively and the pedagogy that influences this upbringing. It usually all comes under the one umbrella - education.

    Yes, this distinction is evident in all these other languages but Is it also evident in the understanding of what conduction is? How do the words used instead of conductive education influence this understanding in other cultures?

    I believe an awful lot.

    I am quite happy when my school children simply say they are off to "Petö". They know what they will do when they get there and it is not therapy! Every minute will be learning and living.


  7. One of the challenges: from our beginnings in 1992, we were intent on bringing CE into the UK mainstream; that is to say, in part, into the educational mainstream.

    The risk, which we have not entirely escaped as you will be aware, is that "conductive upbringing" having been narrowed as you say to "conductive education" then becomes further narrowed to "conductive schooling", the schooling becoming more important than the upbringing, its focus on the professional or the institution rather than the parent and the upbringing of the child.

    A subject for further study maybe?

  8. Norman,

    As promised in my last comment I am sharing some information with you that I have just received about the Chinese language and education.

    "Each Chinese word bears single syllables (a unique feature not found in any other

    Chinese words, like alphabets, combine to form its vocabulary and
    there are over 2,000 commonly used words in Chinese. Each word is, in fact, emerged from drawings; and can be decomposed into components to search for its in-depth meaning.

    'Education' in Chinese is made up of 2 words: '教育'. The former word refers to 'teach' and the latter one refers to 'raise'. Thus, education in Chinese means 'teach' and 'raise'.

    When talking about the original meaning of 'teach' and 'raise' in Chinese, we should trace back to our great educator (Confucius) and his Confusianism."

    Yes, that the focus has moved so far away from upbringing and parents in so many countries certainly is a subject for further study as you suggest.

    A subject for discussion in China perhaps. I wonder how many people will touch upon it in their presentations.