Sunday, 29 August 2010

Revisionist history

Perhaps we all need it

If you are in the United Kingdom you may know that we are in the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

I write 'may' because, despite all the public attention, I gather that some younger people do not know what this was. We Brits – especially perhaps the English – can be very careless of our history.

It was all so different once. I was there, seventy years ago, under one corner of the Battle (Essex), not yet one year old and not therefore taking much notice of the goings-on in the sky above me, despite one near-miss that I cannot remember. It was different later but my generation grew up in the shadow of the War, the country just would not let it go, and the more our Empire slipped away the more important the glories of that recent past – all the way to Suez.

All a long time ago. Long enough for the old to grow old and all the belligerents in that European war of 1940 to be all Europeans together now. Long enough ago to have the myths of yesterday exposed by the harsh, factual, comparative light of revisionist history. So it seems no problem now in 2010 to thrill to those glorious myths of national (and international) destiny while at the same time being reminded that the RAF and its supply system were actually better organised than those of the Luftwaffe (i.e. we had greater reserves of aircraft). The clipped-voiced officer chaps who flew our fighters were just a minority, outnumbered by sergeant pilots and men from the Commonwealth and Empire and other countries of occupied of the world, including Poland, Czechoslovakia and other parts of occupied Europe The destruction of the RAF was not that critical anyway for the Germans' intended invasion of Britain – Continental waterway barges on the Channel: the Royal Navy could probably have swamped them by just sailing past at full steam. The major long-term effect of Hitler's turning away, to the East, was that Britain remained available a year or so later to serve as an American springboard into Europe. Anyway, Americans or not, the Western Front was only ever going to be a sideshow to the Eastern Front where the European War would be won and lost. And in the end, who won the War? Not Churchill and Roosevelt – Stalin.

There are still those (Brits mainly) who would find the above paragraph deeply insulting, grossly offensive etc. As a teenager and a young adult I should have felt the same. Now, while I can still thrill to the stories and deeply respect the reality behind them (on both sides), I see it all rather differently – and now there are many who do not thrill, and not interested or even aware that any of this happened at all.

History has been revised. It takes a time for this process to bite but it is a process as inevitable as history itself.

Revising the history of Conductive Eduction

If the British nation can come to re-understand its own history, and its place in world history, then as in relatively big things so in little ones. Time has also marched on for what many people around the world now call 'Conductive Education'.

There are some grand stories about about Conductive Education's origins, András Pető, the hospital-director, the  neurologist and mystic, for a start. Who/what was he? Mári Hári's still widely quoted outcome 'statistics'. What might have been the real figures? The extraordinary behaviour of all sorts of bodies and professionals, in Hungary and a lot of other places, in the years following 1986. Hidden scandals? Konduktív pedagógia – a Hungaricum. Really? The contribution of conductors around the world to the present situation of Conductive Education. Ah-hem.

Maybe if we knew differently, maybe we might act differently.

My own small role in some of these events is now drifting into history, and I have to revise my own history, as part of deciding what I do next.

How about you​?​

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