Thursday, 30 September 2010

Mention of Mária strikes a chord

A pictorial memorial on Flickr?

Mention on of Mária Hári on Conductive World always seems to cause a small, warm ripple of response in the world of Conductive Education, at least amongst ladies (and gentlemen) of a certain age who met her face to face, as conductors (and student conductors) or as parents, be they Hungarians or foreigners.

She has left some some warm, fond and easily rekindled memories around the world. Yesterday's posting showed this effect again.

There has been a small spiking of hits to this site (nothing spectacular, but enough to feel the wave), and this has been echoed on Facebook:

Susie Mallett has published a nice memoir of her own personal experience of Mária:

Norman Perrin has made a very interesting suggestion:

Mária on Flickr?

This is Norman's suggestion: our meeting room at Paces Campus hangs a picture taken at the 1993 Sheffield Summer School. I took it down and scanned it in.

There must be literally hundreds of (often treasured) pictures around the world. Does anyone agree it might be a good to set up a Flickr account to collect them in one accessible place?  (I only have this one picture of Dr Hari - but I'd be happy to set up a Flickr account if given the right encouragement.

Lovely idea, Norman. You certainly have my encouragement. I had better dig out some photos from my chaos and find somebody with a scanner.

If you reading this and have any photos of Mária that you would lie to share, then you can contact Norman at:

What would she have thought of this? In her later years she certainly enjoyed the emerging Internet technologies and was delighted to communicate by the then still novel means of email. Pictures of her, though, who knows?

I have pondered Norman's suggstion in this light. I would like to think that if ding this would serve to draw greater attention to the ideas and values that were so important to her, and now need all the help that they can get, then I suspect that she would pause, think for a few moments while she weighed up the political pros and cons (mainly the potential benefits or otherwise for the Institute) then say, 'Yes. That is good'.

I do hope so.

Würzburg Congress

More information 

From the Bundesverband der in Deutschland tätigen KonduktorInnen e.V. (the German Conductors' Association), Krisztina Desits offers further details of this event –

Forschung und Förderung für Kinder und Erwachsene
mit Cerebralparese, MS, Schlaganfall, Parkinson
und anderen neurologischen Dysfunktionen
 am 12.-13. November in Würzburg
im Tagungszentrum Festung Marienberg in Würzburg
Es ist der 7. Fachkongress in der Reihe der alle zwei Jahre mit wechselnden Partnern veranstalteten Kongressen des Konduktorenverbandes. Mitveranstalter sind diesmal sein 15 Jähriges Bestehen feiernder Verein FortSchritt Würzburg e.V. und ihr 10 Jähriges Bestehen feiernde Konduktive Einrichtung der Blindeninstitutsstiftung.
 Wir freuen uns wieder namhafte Wissenschaftler aus der klinischen Forschung und der Rehabilitation gewonnen zu haben. Wir wollen durch die Referate, Workshops und in den anschließenden Diskussionen über aktuelle Forschungsprojekte erfahren, bzw., wie dessen Ergebnisse in modernen Therapien Einzug finden und Zusammenhänge mit den Erkenntnissen András Petös und der Praxis der Konduktiven Förderung aufzeichnen. Wir wollen auch Zeit und Raum für Austausch und lebhafte Diskussionen schaffen und im Gesamten eine interessante Weiterbildung anbieten.
Das Programm, den Anmeldeformular und weitere Informationen findet Ihr auf der Kongresswebseite:

In English, this goes something as follows –

Research and intervention for children and adults
with cerebral palsy,
MS, stroke, Parkinson's
and other neurological disorders
12-13. November
Tagungszentrum Festung Marienberg
This is 7th Congress in the series of biennial conferences organized by different partners of the Konduktorenverband. This time it jointly celebrates the 15th Anniversary of the FortSchritt Club Würzburg eV and the 10th Anniversary of establishment of the Konduktive Einrichtung der Blindeninstitutsstiftung.
Once again we are pleased to have attracted well-known scientists in clinical research and rehabilitation.. Through presentations, workshops and in subsequent discussions about current research projects, we shall learn for example how results found in modern therapies correspond with the insights of András Pető and the practice of Conductive Education. We also wish to create time and space for lively discussion and exchange, and generally offer interesting continuing education.
The program, the application form and more information are available on the conference web site:

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Recession: English charities feeling pinch

(And worse may yet come)

A report by David Ainsworth in Third Sector will hardly come as a surprise:

Ainsworth , D. (2010) Quarter of charities 'have drawn on reserves', Third Sector Online, 29 September

As for CE, where does it go from here?


I do. More should

Hári megemlékezés

There will be a quiet ceremony at the Pető Institute next Wednesday:

Hári Remembrance

1923-2001The Institute of Conductive Education cordially invites you to a a quiet commemoration in the hall of the Villányi út Institute, starting at 3.00p.m on Wednesday, 6 October 2010.
Colleagues, followeres, children and students will remember her
Everybody welcome.

This time nine years ago I was flying back and forth to Budapest, visiting Mária Hári during the closing weeks of her life. She died on 6 October 2001 (I have extensive notes on this and really ought to write them up and publish them...) 

Villányi út

The ceremony will be held at the Pető Institute's site in Villányi út. This building too has a story crying out to be told, from its construction by Communist Stakhanovites to its later rebuilding financed primarily by UK money authorised by Margaret Thatcher in the end game of the Cold War.

Suffice it here to recall that the rebuilding was done on the original foundations, so the  ground plan of the modern building seen there today echoes the plan of the original (one hopes with greater structural integrity!) So, for those who knew 'the old Villányi út', to walk round inside the ground floor of new building is to walk around inside the ghost of the old.

Here inside the front doors is the entrance hall, where Mária first greeted me in 1984. Turn left and walk down what despite its modern mien, is the same corridor, down to where Mária had her little office on the left. Further down, on the right, is the from of the office where András Pető worked – and died. In the mid eighties this was a bare meeting room where I met 'four big ladies' (conductors who subsequently followed remarkably divergent career paths). His wooden chair was still there and on the wall looking down on us was that well-known snapshot of András Pető himself, with a disabled child and a young woman in a white coat Who she was, Mária was not saying).

Remember her... 

Those who knew her certainly do: the bad as well as the good. Like the little girl in Longfellow's poem, Mária was a contradictory character:

There was a little girl,
And she had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.

When she was good
She was very, very good.
And when she was bad
She was horrid.

Just how contradictory, how good and how bad, I have outlined briefly elsewhere, in English and Hungarian. Others could doubtless offer far more telling examples.

Those involved in Conductive Education who did not know her personally must by now far outnumber those who did. They too, however, have cause to remember her. Everybody 'remembers' András Pető, though hardly anyone now involved in Conductive Education ever met him, there is no reliable picture of who he really was, and he wrote almost nothing to pass on his thinking (nothing certainly that most people have ever read). His name, however, is ritually invoked in almost every account of Conductive Education. 

Mária was a 'real' historical character, but she remains a shadowy figure in most modern accounts, if she appears at all. In part of course, she had herself to blame for this balance, belittling or denying her own contribution and surrendering credit for everything to her own cult of Pető. Disentangling what in Conductive Education is 'Pető' and what 'Hári' may throw considerable light on the development of the konduktív pedagógia and the konduktív nevelés (conductive pedagogy and conductive upbringing) that evolved during the exclusively Hungarian period in the history of Conductive Education, and  enable rather clearer discussion of the theortical bases of Conductive Education round the world today.


Information on ceremony
(nice photo)

Sutton, A. (2005) Hári Mária, akitől még mindig tanulunk, in Hári Mária (1923-2001), Budapest, MPANNI, pp.59-65

Sutton, A. (2007) Mária Hári from whom we still have much to learn, in Mária Hári and her Conductive Education, Budapest, MPANNI, pp. 60-66 (Keynote address to MOIRA's conference In Memoriam Dr Mária Hári, Budapest Technical University, 9 October 2004)

Obituaries of Mária Hári

(Bothe of these are in English. I have never found any Hungarian obituaries)

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Service-users at CE World Congresses

Policy of International Pető Association?

A parent writes –

I have been playing with the idea of attending the Congress after all.

It is, indeed, very much against the current world-trend, that parents seem to be disregarded as a force in this conference. As far as post-86 CE is concerned, it was we parents who brought about the present prestige of the Peto Institute – and with that the prestiege of those who work there and those who organise these world congresses.

Nowadays, no conference of this kind should be conceivable these days without the full participation of disabled adults, parents, carers and often disabled children too.

Should have been special grants offered for unpaid but active CE users so that they too could attend. Leaving our work and organizing proper “alternative care arrangements” are hard enough, without having also to pay for our willingness to play “expert witness”.

For “crazies” like me, it is not the money that matters, but the fact that this is going against all the currant slogans of “Equality” and “Human Rights” etc., as if there had been no intervening 25 years’ of development on this field. It is like being back in the 60s and 70s.

Can I ask you to find out whether my pride might be satisfied. Could I and others like me be entitled to some grant, or at least waiving the conference participation fees? Then I might be crazy enough to pay for the rest.

I missed the last couple of World Congresses. Looking back, however, I do not recall that the Internatinal Pető Association has made any big deal of attracting attendence of service-users to the ones that I had been to.

The last big CE bash that I attended was Tsad Kadima's Twentieth Anniversary Conference, in Tel Aviv, a couple of years ago. This picture there was spectacularly to the contrary. Both the programme and the crowd were redolent with participation and inclusion, a real family fest. Since then the only national conference that I have been to (not a CE one) was Cerebra's annual bash – the same sort of thing. These mixed lay + professional events are not easy to arrange, but they can be done and are the better all round for the effort's having been made.

If there are to be any further World CE Congresses, then the International Peto Association might start by considering contemporary expectations within the fields of disability, caring and parenting, and what was achieved in Tel Aviv in 2008, and ensure that in future it organises and budgets accordingly.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Families and conductors getting it together

The basic cell of sustainable conduction?

Two blogs from British Columbia in Canada, one by a parent and the other by a conductor. A posting on each over this last couple of days, each on its own topic and both generating comment:

Together they pose a question that has arisen so many times in different ways over the last twenty or so years: in the modern Western world, what is the appropriate size of arrangements (sometimes askes in terms of tghe minimum size) to ensure proper conductive life and learning?

Here is a range of notional responses:
  • a family alone faces enormous difficulties, not least being that success brings not knowing what to do next
  • a conductor working alone is a vulnerable organism on too many, too familiar counts to be elaborated here
  • two conductors together are stronger but may be prone to the same vulnerabilities
  • as the size of the unit increases then so increase the risks of change of direction, at board or management level, or both – perhaps resulting in a commodification of what is done that results in a facility which understands neither what its clients are there for nor what its vital staff are trying to do to meet such needs.
Károly and Magda Ákos  who were the first to pose the distinction between institutional and family conductive upbringing favoured the model of family ubpringing supplemented by review and intervention by a large conductive institution as need might arise. That is fine, if your family has a large, flexible conductive institution handy for when it is needed. Most people may never have this.

Tsad Kadima, the Israeli Parents' Association for Conductive Education, has a different model, with parents (and grandparents) very much in control of the organisation itself and the notion of 'family' having the status of ideology in everything that it does. This model seems unlikely to be widely exportable, though maybe one might build towards it.

An ideal resolution?

What are the real-life choices for most parents seeking consistent personal conductive input and for conductors looking to work somewhere their chosen field. Workplaces may be:
  • too small and vulnerable, or
  • too big and detatched.
There can of course be no ideal or universally applicable solution to this dilemma but maybe the very nature of the two blogs that sparked this chain of thought, reinforced by successful experiences reported from around the world – and unsuccessful ones too – offer a pointer to a different way of posing the problem:

  • one family trying to follow a conductive road is a lonely family

  • one conductor working alone in a family oriented way is lonely conductor

  • a conductive family in long-term association with a family-oriented conductor is a group of people, a collective to be fuzed around a common goal and common labour to achieve it.
In the third of these options, people, fellow adults, are defined in this situation primarily by working together, collaborating to achieve a common purpose, with different roles and tasks and contributions, different backgrounds and different financial requirements/obligations. They are not on the one hand primarily parents and on the other primarily conductors. They are united within a conductive cell.

Such an approach may at least diminish some of the problems of aloneness and vulnerability that one family or one conductor might experience, since at the very least there are now a least two adults involved. And if such a collective were to grow, bringing in more families and/or more conductors, then in such a context there could be better solutions tried for how to do this than the common one of creating acentre and/or an organisation, and hiring help.

Crudely put, I am sure, and certainly not a novel formulation, but one that does not presently stand as a common icon for how one might create sustainable and secure conductive services for children, adults, parents and carers.


It has not escaped me that 'getting it together' is one possible English translation of the Latin word conductio.

Willy-nilly into the future

What practical choice is there in England?

At the end of last week I wrote less than warmly about the Government's consultation on special educational needs and inclusion in England, as a 'charade' – offering a somewhat negative summary of what I think it actually says:

Over the weekend Norman Perrin has delivered a deserved rebuke in the form of a Comment appended to that posting:

Nevertheless, willy-nilly, we must work only with what is there.
Two links (both from the Times Educational Supplement) which readers might like to follow up:
1. Sir Robert Balchin says in June that the review is set to be the most significant since Warnock 30 years ago
2.The Minister (Sarah Teather) says legislation may be necessary and urges parents to respond to the consultation.

I do not agree

Norman wrote –

'... willy-nilly, we must work only with what is there.'

I am sure that Norman does not apply this position to human development. I suspect that he does not favour it as a general position on social matters. I think that I know what he means in the present context but I find it hard to find the exact words and, anyway, I can hardly put words into his mouth, not least when I find it hard enough myself to express my own thoughts on this. I am very glad that I no longer work in the sort of position that Norman holds, and very pleased that I need think of all this now just as words, rather than myeveryday reality.

Granting that, and of course waiting to see what the Government comes up with, my inclination would be to keep my powder dry in anticipation of the possibility that, willy-nilly, one might also be obliged to oppose what is there, on the basis that there are always new forces that can be brought to life in human affairs, personal and social.

Time will tell

Norman may be wrong, and he may be right. Time will tell.

How much time?
  • It took only a few years for the harmful effects of Warnock's repoty to become apparent.
  • It took fifteen years for her to make her own admission (and all credit to her that she did).
  • It has taken some thirty years for Government to get round to doing something about this.
  • How many more years for all the damage to be undone.
Getting it right would of course have lead to a different future dynamic but go back to the previous big watershed (1944) and you find no precedent for getting such a thing right there either. Putting it differently, not in living memory does our country have experience of getting this sector right, nobody living has experience of being served by a wholly well functioning system, nobody has worked in one. Sweeping generalisations, I know, and of course there will be all sorts of individual islands of good that can be reported, but what is at stake here is the system as a whole.

When things go wrong, why does it take so long to unpick them? One reason, surely, is that there are so many who 'willy-nilly, work only with what is there', creating new vested interests as they do, defending what they have created or what employs them in the world as they find it, becoming part of the problem, not part of the solution.


Robert Balchin (what judge of such matters, he?) considers the forthcoming Government review the most significant since Warnock's. At the level of ideas and understandings, what was the great significance of Mary Warnock's report? That it was 'naïve to the point of idiocy'. Not my words and judgement – her own (I was there in Buxton in 1992 when she first came out publicly with her admission of the damage to which her report had opened us all). Her report brought together and legitimated much of the woolly. unchallenging thinking of the time and left the sector without a backbone (sorry about the metaphors!). That was what it meant, its great significance.

For those too young to remember, idiocy used to be the lowest grade of mental deficiency. Where on such a scale might the 'most sidgnificant since...' stand? One of the deleterious effects of 'Warnock' has been to create open season on ideas and practices even woollier – or in her terms, even more idiotic – than those that her committee allowed to stay upon the table. Looking at Robert Balchin's own report, a document and process that might be later looked back upon as a run-up to what the Government has in mind, then indeed the door is wide open for something at least as 'significant' as Mary Warnock's report, and perhaps even more so

Yes, I too feel that this coming review might be a 'Warnock 2' or, to put it differently, I fear that it might be so.

We shall see, when its effects – quite literally – come home.

An earlier look at the review process

...with links to more.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Spaniard in the works

Fly in CE's international ointment

From Spain, a list of professional services offered by people qualified in physiotherapy, which in Englih goes something along the following lines –

Physiotherapy is the science and art of physical treatment, including a set of methods, approaches and techniques through application of physical agents to prevent and cure diseases, enhancing, restoring and improving the state of health.
Within the powers granted, the qualification in physiotherapy refers to professional care by implementing physical agents through various methods and techniques. The therapist also develops research activities, teaching and management within physiotherapy units as part of the multidisciplinary team
Constant scientific and technological advances have expanded and perfected the field of knowledge of the physiotherapist, adding to the basic knowledge provided at initial training, through continuing education and graduate study.
Use of different physical agents implies knowledge of the various forms, techniques and methods of application.
This present document, prepared by the Committee on Education and Research of the College of Physiotherapists of the Professional Community of Madrid, aims to arrange therapeutic agents, forms of application and techniques, understand the actions that comprise the physiotherapist's skills, and schematise and arrange them according to various topics and fields of action, based upon the university curricula of the Colleges of Physiotherapy in the Community of Madrid.
It also encompasses the various training areas that provide common knowledge shared by all health professions.

You hardly need read Spanish to understand section 14 from the lists that follow:

1.   Método de Bobath
2.   Método de Brunntrom – Técnica Cutánea Sensorial de Feedback de Brunnstrom
3.   Método de Vojta – Locomoción Refleja
4.   Método de Rood
5.   Método de Kabat
6.   Método de Temple Fay
7.   Método de Doman y Peto
8.   Método de Perfetti – Ejercicio Terapéutico Cognoscitivo
9.   Método de Facilitación Neuromuscular Propioceptiva de Voss y Knott
10. Técnicas de Reaprendizaje Motor de Carr y Shepherd
11. Método de Cotton y Kinsman
12. Método de Reeducación a base de Reflejos Posturales
13. Ejercicios de Coordinación de Frenkel
14. Método de Phelps
15. Método de Eirene Colling [sic]

Oh dear, 'neurological'!

And one hardly needs draw attention to number 7. Método de Peto does not even merit a complete entry of its own – and what extraordinary bedfellows to regard as compatable. What a bizarre coupling! What depth of misunderstanding...

How many years, how much hard work and hope, and how many hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Euros have gone into getting CE going in Spain? And in 2010, how tiny and distorted its impact upon professional awareness.

Not just a Spanish fly

From inside CE, the conductive movement may seem huge and consequential. Is what the Spanish physiotherapy establishment thinks, however, a fair and better representation of how actually the world now sees it, some little fringe thing, something 'neurological' that omniscient physios might dip into should they wish? In a world apparently obsessed with the quest for biological explanations for every aspect of human consciousness and learning, feeling and activity (despite such explanations' inevitable inability to deliver practical benefit), is this as good as it gets? There are even conductors with the same biologistic expectations – even some of CE's own paid operatives acting to place it down in a corner of the 'therapies'.

Is this the real state of the vaunted 'revolution in the care and welfare of the motor-disordered'. If so, then that revolution has faltered, failed.

No need particularly to single out Spain of course, or even physiotherapists, other than this particular document has just drawn attention to itself by being published (and already much republished) on line. The fly in CE's ointment is its failure to broadcast what it is – and what this implies. This fly is international and affects equally would-be users and to those who are paid to know better ('the professionals').

So, what to do...? Perhaps a new generation can recast its goals.

Maybe we were wrong to hope for that revolution. Maybe noble enough is the more realistic goal of keeping small flames of transformative pedagogy and upbringing alive where we can, by means of successful exemplars through what we call 'Conductive Education'.

Maybe James Forlitti's last surviving goldfish is a good icon!


Comición de Formació e Investigación (2010) Descriptor de servicios profesionales ofertados por los titulados en fisioterapia, Madrid, Ilustre Colegio Profesional de Fisioterapeutas de la C.M.

Forlitti, J. (2010) Goldish... Conductive Education in B.C., 26 September 

Saturday, 25 September 2010

International consultancy is big business

Selling to the Gulf

Piscari is a consultancy business.

It has a Board of Directors:

It has an Advisory Board:

It does educational things:

Piscari Associates works in partnership to deliver extraordinary programmes that enable improved outcomes and measurable impact for both the private and public sectors. We inspire our clients to raise the bar and achieve best performance and best practice in everything we do, with continual impact assessment carried out along the way. We achieve this with a talent pool of over 100 hand picked, experienced professionals who all have a passion for their work, a belief in transferring skills and a drive to deliver excellence.

We believe in equipping people to solve their own problems and embark on every programme with sustainability at the core. Solutions are locally driven and locally led with Piscari Associates building capacity and capability along the way, working with proven processes, tools and extensive shared learning.

One of its products is Conductive Education, particularly for states in the Gulf, Kuwait, Bahrain and Abu Dahbi:

It must know a thing or two about business that people in Conductive Education do not know. This is what it knows about Conductive Education:

Business must be good. It advertises for new conductors widely and continuously, this week for example:

I wonder what they are like, the work and the services provided in this way.

Friday, 24 September 2010

England: invitation to a charade

Government 'consults' on special educational needs and disability
All to be submitted, analysed and published 'by the autumn'

I have only just picked up that Her Majesty's Government is undertaking a consultation about 'special educational needs and disability' in England. This first went out on 10 September so the scattered world of English Conductive Education may already be well on its way to making its own several or concerted responses.

The present Government has inherited from its predecessor mechanisms for dealing with public consultation in a truly industrial manner. You can see this particular example – and if you wish participate – at:

Here in summary are the highlights of this document –

...wellbeing and achievement of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, as well as the support for their families... meeting people who know a lot about what is and isn't working … particularly keen to hear about areas or examples where things are working well...

Why A Green Paper? all children - unique gifts and their own particular contribution to make to society... amongst the most vulnerable members of society... failed by the services designed to help them... current economic climate difficult decisions... most effective use of recent substantial investment... work together, with the available resources and expertise... some parents feel they don't have sufficient choice or confidence in the schools their children attend or the services they receive... can feel they need to battle the system to get the support their child needs

Guiding principles
  • greater transparency... child is to be supported...
  • involvement of parents in decision-making... partners in the system...
  • effective use of limited resources...  best value from investment...
  • less bureaucracy... professionals to spend more time with children and families...
  • high expectations of participation in society and the economy...
  • more local solutions... best use of staff and specialist resources...

  • better educational outcomes and life chances...
  • better early intervention to prevent problems...
  • greater choice for parents…
  • needs of the family and child in the round...
  • streamlining assessment...

How you can help us now
  • want to hear from anyone... opportunity to influence our future direction...

Questions (these are only a guide)
  • statutory frameworks... what changes could help? …
  • identify children's special educational needs earlier...
  • support they need as quickly as possible…
  • improve the processes that professionals can spend more of their time with children and their families...
  • high expectations... develop the skills for employment...
  • improve the choices of schools and services... parents... to be involved in decisions that affect their family...
  • improve the transition from school to adult life for young people with special educational needs and disabilities and the support provided for their families throughout…
  • ideas and examples of what's working well... Summary: 150 words...or... Examples:150 words...

The feedback from this call for views will be used to inform the content of the full Green Paper to be published in the Autumn

The closing date for responses is 15 October.

The last day of Autumn, by the way, when everything will have been done and dusted, is 20 December, so it will be all over by Christmas.

Summarised in my own words...

...this would run something as follows:
  • The Government appears to consider itself somehow to own children and their childhoods and be the primary agent in society to direct these, though it does say that it likes the idea of the children's parents acting as 'partners' in this. The government knows that it has a problem over services that it provides and there are serious charges being made that require some sort of response. It is about to sort out the education of certain undefined groups, to whom it will offer 'support', also undefined. It has no real idea what it might do and would welcome any bright ideas, but intends to go forward within the limits of present resources, both financial and intellectual. There is no such thing as pedagogy (not at least to the degree or relevance to make it worth mentioning here). Solutions will be managed top-down, with outcomes defined instrumentally, particularly in financial terms. What happens next will occur within existing paradigms and, given the time scale and the nature if the consultation document, the substance of what happens next is likely already worked out, hoi polloi being invited to offer some nice soundbite-sized quotations to embellish the forthcoming Green Paper. Job done.

Have I missed or misrepresented anything?

And I was daft enough to think of a Royal Commission!
By the way, I did notice the notion of professionals' spending more time with children and families', possibly just careless drafting, possibly a hint of the scale of public-sector cutbacks soon to be announced!

The future

Not what it used to be

I had been sneaking a long, fascinated look at this week's Special Issue of Scientific American on the newsagent's shelves, and a very good collection of articles this is too, not just for sic transit buffs. The issue's title is 'The end'.

I walked out into the street with my purchase and almost knocked over a thin young man who was walking by in as big a dream as myself. As we do in our culture, we mumbled apologies to each other and immediately went our preoccupied ways.

I had just time to read the slogan on his T-shirt:

The future isn't what it used to be.

How so very apposite in 2010 – though hardly new. I have checked, and the expression is a very well established one (various attributions) and goes back perhaps at least to the forties, its full form being versions of:

The trouble with today is that the future isn't what it used to be.


Careers for life, pension plans, technologies, familiar institutions, society itself, never mind the climate, economics, population shifts, politics... and tossed around in this swirling mass, li'l ole Conductive Education, trying, as they say, to 'plan for the future'.

Whatever next?

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Ah, 'the Continent'

Time to pick and crush the grapes

Even in chill and dank England we are having a lovely September. The latest blog from the CE day centre in Rosenheim in Germany offers reminder that it must be even nicer further south:

When in Rome

I recall a similar blog posting from Pouilly-sur-Loire in France, reporting a similar bit of conductive living that had happened there a year ago from now, almost to the week:

Fin Septembre à Pouilly sur Loire, le village vit au rythme des vendanges...
Upbringing has to be an integral part of family and social life. Here in the British Isles we have no Weinlese and no vendages (well, so little over the last centuries not to have become essential to a way of life – though perhaps now this will be  be increasingly changing!).

Maybe it would take a foreigner looking in to say what we do have.

Climatic, cultural, economic and social contexts

Autres pays, autres choses... surely we all have great rhythms according to which we live our lives, even in the technologised and homogenised twenty-first century, and surely conductive upbringing adapts to and reflects these. Doesn't it?

Conductive Education (to varying degrees and definitions) is spreading across an extraordinary range of climates (from Tromsø to the Gulf) and embedded within a perhaps less extraordinary range (though still a wide one) of cultural, economic and social contexts.

Much of this effort does not amount to conductive upbringing but, even granting this, there is a noticeable lack of reports, however oblique (like the two referred to her) to draw attention to how bigger, more fundamental circumstances might be incorporated in the emerging mix.

A complete articulation of what constitutes Conductive Education will surely have to begin at the macro-level. No doubt holding December's big Congress in Hong Kong will really force this to the forefront of attention.

(Or maybe not. The fifth Congress was held in Japan. If  left any impression at all upon the field of Conductive Education, this vanished without a trace.)

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A very naughty boy *

Aplologies for confusion

The Great God Google has been playing up again, not the search engine but two if its off-shoots, vital to Conductive World, Blogger and Gmail.

Yesterday Blogger particularly was being a very naughty boy. It so mangled a posting that today I have had to take it off altogether and replace it. You will find it (still misplaced!) at:

One infuriating problem, the uncalled-for line pacing in the heading of this posting, just refuses to go and must leave its scar till the end of Cyberspace.

Emails are also doing some odd things.

Or maybe a bad workman is simply blaming his tools. As anthropologists and mythographers well know, ignorant people may make sense of strange and powerful forces and phenomena in their world by personifying them, from which it is but a short step to attributing them malevolent intent. Hence my primitive and animistic view that there are Cyber-gremlins out there, intent on confounding my every intention. I am surely not alone in thinking this way!

I was very rushed yesterday. Festina lente! Perhaps I should simply blame myself.  Sorry.

No supernatural being

Help me if you can...

Will you, please, please help me * 

In just over seven weeks I shall be in Hong Kong fulfilling one of several pleasant obligations to the Seventh World CE Congress. The one that I find hardest to prepare for is my plenary address on the Congress's opening day. It is not standing up and performing that concerns me. In the event, I anticipate, these plenary sessions will run like clockwork:

My title will be:

Historical, Social and Political Issues of Conductive Education

If you are one of the many who for a host of good reasons will not be attending the Congress I shall be posting the prepared text of this presentation as soon as I have presented it to the plenary session (as soon, that is, as I can get myself to an inexpensive Internet point!).

I hope to broadcast all my own presentations in this way, along with a blow-by-blow account of what I observe in Hong Kong, and what I think about it. I do hope that other presenters take the opportunity to 'broadcast' their presentations in this way, either on the websites of their own organisations or through the facility of Conduction Depository that is soon to be established. (Further information on this means of publication will soon be published: to be informed of further developments, on this and other matters, register your email address at I also hope that some of the other CE-bloggers attending will also run their own commentaries of events and impressions.

Mixed audience →  mixed media

These plenary sessions in Hong Kong will bring together a very mixed audience, probably with a wider variety of experience, understanding and goals than any previous gathering on Conductive Education. How to deal with this?

In all my prepared presentations to the Congress I shall be trying to do so by offering everybody who sits there and listens to me the chance to have done a little preliminary reading, by courtesy of the Internet. Everyone in the audience will therefore have had opportunity to get up to speed on my topic. You can lead a horse to water, of course, but I can do no more..

As part of this process I shall be updating my paper 'Towards a history of Conductive Education' (2006), which has been on the Internet in its present form since 2006, published as a Google Knol:

I have not managed well with Knol and eventually I have had to admit defeat in trying to get it to obey my formatting instructions. Now, however, Conduction will soon be offering the world of CE (not just myself) a much easier way to post documents. This paper will provide a useful field test for the system:

That paper was published in its present form four years ago. There may be all sorts of details to amend about CE's 'olden days' or, as some like to see them, its 'golden days', but there is also the question of what has happened in the four tumultuous years since 2006, and the need to revisit the hypothesis on which that paper ended, that Conductive Education is entering a new historical crisis.

Help, please

Please do let me know if you have any data, observations, analyses, suggestions  etc., that I might consider in revising this paper:
  • on the specifics of events
  • on the historical periodisation proposed
  • on the question of a historical crisis
  • or indeed on any aspect, big or small
Do remember, a history of CE is not just about András Pető, or even just about what has happened in Hungary! CE's modern history, now sone twenty-odd years in the making, is potentially just and important and interesting for the present and the future. Some of this modern history is still of course happening in Hungary but the big historical trends may in retrospect appear now to be happening elsewhere, in Western Europe, North America, China and other places too (including in the extraterritorial land of Cyberspace)..
Comment below to any of this, if you wish, or write privately to:

*  Surely no reference needed! But just in case:

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

On upbringing

An historical contribution

I have responded to Susie Mallett’s invitation to contribute something to her new blog Conductive upbringing and lifestyle. Partly I did this to see how such a contribution to an open blog might look, partly because the topic that I chose is one dear to my heart: Soviet vospitanie (воспитание) and its possible relevance to conductive upbringing.

Vospitanie occupied me considerably in the nineteen-seventies and eighties, and perhaps naively I expected and hoped that adapting the upbringing (nevelési) aspects of CE would be a conscious and exciting part of  adaptation to new social contexts. Instead, this aspect rather dropped out of explicit consideration. People have made all sorts of stabs at Vygotskii-style and Luriya-style analyses (though almost wholly ignoring all kinds of associated matters, not least Leont’ev’s activity and the leading activity that may help define the pedagogy of developmental stages). There is no need to call for slavish adoption of Soviet models to see that they are extraordinarily heuristic and hypothesis-forming. So is the whole field of vospitanie! We are much the poorer for ignoring it.

It is amusing to speculate about the causes of this. Suffice it here to state that we may have created ourselves a problem.

If you would like to see what I have written on Conductive upbringing and lifestyle, then I guess that it will probably be up there sometime this evening:

That is if she accepts it! I have to remember that this is notposting on my own blog, but more like submitting something to an editor. She might not want it, so in a few hours’ time I shall be watching out anxiously, like a mother hen!

Maybe this process gives a bit of a clue as to what she has created, a sort of free, open-access house magazine (an e-zine or maybe an on-line scrap book) for the upbringing fans within CE. An interesting precedent that others might consider...

Perhaps, by the way, it is time to stop using the now historical word ‘Soviet’. A quick glance in Google, even using the Latin alphabet, will show that vospitanie, both the word and the concept, is alive and well in Russia, not least in the minds of parents, who expect there to be technical information and advice on bringing up their children – at home, in school, everywhere – and that conscious direction of upbringing should be an essential feature of childhood and parenthood.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Rave on, it's a crazy feeling *

Towards CE-blogging 2.0

I have been contemplating the section called Selected Blogs on the new website What is a 'CE-blog'? Which ones are appropriate to select? Who decides?

The answer to the third of these questions is the easy one. For the moment, I have to. In the longer term, however, one will have to look to develop criteria, both out of principle and out of practice. Meanwhile, it is early days and important to get started.

So what is a 'selected CE-blog'? A blog that deals in some part with conductive pedagogy/upbringing, and relevant matters. And comes out fairly regularly (and still does). And has something to say.

Yes, these is still some way short of firm, quantifiable criteria!

A social role

CE-blogs are important not least because for some time now the CE-blogosphere has been the only means whereby new ideas, information, experience, etc. are publicly shared within this sector. Whatever great discussion or wonderful practice happens in the privacy of people's homes or centres, this is rarely shared in other ways.

There is a ginormous World Congress coming up and it will be interesting to see how effective this is in sharing ideas, information, experience etc. Maybe it will be fantastic at this, maybe not. Maybe it will generate an exciting and energising flurry of new ideas and formulations, though previous such Congresses have not. Whatever it does, however, it will do so out of the gaze of the wider community of people who might benefit – or contribute.

The new CE think tank Conduction aims to create a structure whereby a variety of knowledge systems and processes might be brought together ( One contribution is that of the CE-bloggers (hence the exercise that has prompted this posting – selecting CE-blogs for particular public attention). Not to put too fine on it, the CE-blogosphere is presently the liveliest feature of the public persona of Conductive Education (no different in this respect, I am sure, as in many other fields). This list of Selected Blogs should prove a lively destination.

Towards 2.0

So far there are seven blogs listed under Selected Blogs (in addition, includes two further blog links, both to blogs by Gill Maguire that are already in stages of being absorbted into Conduction itself.). It is to be hoped and expected that the number od Selected Blogs will grow.

Things are changing. Norman Perrin has announced that he is rejigging aspects of his Paces blog. Conductive World has announced the intention of major changes. Anna Wittig's Moving aHEAD offers a window of the growing 'consulting' sector. Susie Mallett's new 'offspring' blog, Conductive upbringing and lifestyle, was announced only yesterday and will try and bring in anyone with something relevant to share. Ben Foulger's Geek offers this blogging renaissance its technical helpmate.

The 'old' blogosphere remains (and for the time being at least will remain listed in the left-hand tool-bar of Conductive World). I hope soon to move some blogs from there into the 'Select' list – oh dear, that does sound awful but all that is meant is that if they meet the loose criteria stated above.

What it takes

CE-blogging is public. It can be very testing indeed to write down your stuff and publish it for critical (and not always friendly) examination by the world at large. Some people find it quite daunting to to do this, and in confronting this demon, they are being very brave and are themselves transformed. Along the way they may help transform the field.

If CE-blogging has a discernible achievement to show for its existence to date, this is long overdue emergence of 'upbringing' (to use the English word) as a serious matter for attention and debate. This is one fairy out of the box that is unlikely now to be shut back in! Its discussion has come from no one source, its emergence has been a matter of synchronicity of concern, mutually reinforced.. There is some way to go till the topic coalesces as a coherent position within Conductive Education, but a process has been started that is unlikely to have happened otherwise and is unlikely to cease.

Plenty of other processes and positions within CE are very much in need of such display and knocking around in the light of day. Without such attention, then it is hard to see how old and erroneous understandings and practices will be kicked around and then kicked out, and how new ones can become established. CE-blogs are not the only potential mechanism that we might have to do this, but it bears the distinction of being up and running.

CE-blogging needs YOU!

More new voices are needed to swell this second generation of CE-blogging. Those who have already trodden this path will gladly offer advice and guidance.

I have heard it said that a blog should be the following:
  • entertaining
  • instructive
  • useful.
Well, maybe. There can be no hard and fast guidelines and the main advice is perhaps 'Be yourself'. Be personal or 'professional', in whatever measure suits you, popular of academic, human or technical, cool or passionate. Be all of these if you wish. If you do have something to say, just,get out and add your voice to the growing selection.

And that applies no matter what role you play in the big wide world of Conductive Education, and in whatever the language you chose to give voice.

* The little things you say and do

Added together and expressed aloud and in public you may find these apparently little things resonating with those of others. Try blogging it and see. You can always let a blog drop if other things press in on your life, then take it up again as it suits.

You might even find it addictive.