Saturday, 4 September 2010

There's an awful lot of blogging in Brazil *

Stimulating, fresh and lively

Not only is there a lot of it, but Brazian postings seem to be met with flurries of responses, expressed more warmly and enthusiastically than can be the norm in northern climes. An important and influential example is the blog InfoAtivo.DefNet, run by Professor Jorge Márcio Pereira de Andrade, its catholic scope spanning a humane range of interests: textos, informações, comunicações, editoriais sobre Artes, Acessibilidade, Análise Institucional, Bioética,Cinema, Direitos Humanos, Educação, Ecosofia... ('text, information, communications, editorials on Arts, Accessibility, Institutional Analysis, Bioethics, Cinema, Human Rights, Education, Ecosophy …').

On 1 September Jorge Márcio published what looked to be a fascinating and much-needed reflective essay on the history and meaning of the expression 'cerebral palsy', called Freud e a 'invenção' da paralisia cerebral. This was too fascinating in its entirety for my limited grasp of Portuguese but, towards the end of the piece, I saw something familiar that I think that I understand well –

Já dizia, András Pető, criador da Educação Condutiva, lá em Budapeste, nos anos 40, sobre sua principal descoberta, aliada aos seus conhecimentos de Piaget e Luria, que:" tanto a criança como o adulto são capazes de APRENDER e QUEREM APRENDER apesar de seu sistema nervoso poder estar severamente lesado, no sentido anatômico, como no caso das Paralisias Cerebrais", assim como todos e todas queremos aprender. E nós queremos aprender a aprender um novo modo de desconstruir a concepção paralisada no tempo sobre estes distúrbios da eficiência física?

I understand this as saying something as follows –

It is said of András Pető, creator of Conductive Education in Budapest in the early 40s, that his main discovery was linked with his knowledge of Piaget and Luria, that 'both the child and the adult are able to LEARN and WANT TO LEARN though the nervous system may be severely injured in the anatomical sense, as in the case of cerebral palsy ', just as we all of us want to learn. And we want to learn how to learn a new way to deconstruct the stuck-in-time concept of these motor disorders?

I would appreciate a more precise translation but I got the gist, enough to risk commenting back –

Yes, people often speak about András Pető's debt to Luriya [Luria].
The chronology and the history here are very interesting. Pető certainly began his 'conductive pedagogy' from 1945, by which time the features of it that people associate with Luriya seem already to have been in place. If these were in any way connected with Luriya's thinking then where was Peto before 1945 in order to have learned about these? Not in Nazi-occupied Central Europe, surely?
One also hears from time to time about some sort of debt to the Swiss structuralist Piaget. I cannot see where in Pető healing and his conductive pedagogy this is reflected.
I would be very pleased indeed for any information that might shed light on either of these questions.

Jorge Márcio replied –

I'm glad with your message and I say Piaget and Luria quote is taken from texts already read about Conductive Education, which is András Pető stargazer with the ideas of other thinkers on the potential of a child, beyond any reductionist view of the potential of a human being. I think Freud might also have contributed to the Conductive Education had he been born in Budapest ... I will keep spreading your "letter to the Brazilians"about Conductive Education ... keep in touch and receive a loving embrace and best regards
Dr Jorge Márcio from Brazil

There on his blog the matter rests. Does anyone have any comments here?


(2010) Freud e a 'invenção' da paralisia cerebral, InfoAtivo.DefNet, 1 September

Letter to the Brazilians (Carta aos Brazilieros)

It is nice to see that this is still going the rounds, but now that ithis has been brought to my attention I suspect that it is rather out of date. I guess that I ought to take steps to update it!


I am endebted to conductive blogger, Leticia Búrigo Tomelin Kuerten, herself a warm and enthusiastic Brazilian blogger, for drawing my attention to this interesting posting.

*  For those too young to remember

Et encore, à propos de rien...


  1. Andrew,

    I have being reading about Luria at the Library, and i wrote on this post. Please if you have any comments about it, i would like to know.

    And as well, i read that they have being visiting Peto Institute:

    This is not true?

    Thanks for helping.


  2. I have looked back at the two URLs provided, and read them I am afraid that I missed them at the time. They add the further tid-bit of a visit by Piaget.

    A lot of people who try and find out about Conductive Education, and like you, Leticia, may be bombarded with all sorts of uninformed nonsense!

    Vygotskii died in 1934. Pető was at that time living in Austria, allegedly, doing whatever it was that he did. He began the sort of work that might today be called Conductive Education in 1945, in Budapest, eleven years after Vygotskii's death.

    Vygotskii never visited Austria or Hungary. Ever. soon after he died, all his publications were withdrawn from publication, libraries, bookshops. They were (partially) rehabilitated from the mid- fifties. I do not know when they began to find their way into Hungary but by the mid-fifties onwards the building blocks of conductive pedagogy appear to have been already well in place and András Pető was an increasingly sick man (sometimes very sick indeed) and the days of conceptual innovation were probably over.

    In 1934 Luriya took the wisest course of action, self-imposed internal exile, doing medical training in Kharkhov in the Ukraine. He graduated as a doctor and the War drew him into rehabilitation of brain-injured soldiers. With the war over, he continued to keep his head down, working at the Institute of Defectology in Moscow (an increasingly dangerous city for a Jewish doctor under Stalin). His rehabilitation also came in the mid-fifties, after Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalinism, and was intertwined with that of Vygotskii. It was only then that he could begin publishing his work again. There is no way in which AP cold have read of this before that.

    Luriya had died in 1977. Did he ever visit the State Institute for Motor Disorders (there was no 'Pető Institute' till 1985). Well, yes, actually he did. I was told this in 1984 or 1985 by Maria Hari, who told me almost by accident. She would not later amplify on it.

    She told me that when Luriya was a famous Soviet scientist he was allowed out (of the USSR)to go to Budapest to speak at a conference. He had a couple of minders with him, to make sure that he behaved himself, did not speak to the wrong sort of people, and, above all, make a dash for the West. One morning Luriya slipped out of his hotel very early, when the two minders were still asleep. He came to the Institute, talked with AP and was then back at his hotel by breakfast time,with the goons none the wiser.

    I do not have a date for this reported event

    You may make of all that what you wish – as long as you see that on the basis of the knowable facts, the relationship between Conductive Education and Vygotskii/Luriya has been imposed by later commentators, rather than being something that was played out in historical reality.

    As things stand, there are interesting parallels and analogies to be drawn. Mo more.

    I think that I have told Maria Hari's little story before on Conductive World, but it is important enough in its implications to bear telling again. Thanks for giving me the pretext!

    Con amor,


    PS. As for Piaget, yes I have also heard that he went to see Pető at the Institute (again Maria Hari was the source). I know no more than this., though I am not sure what parallels/analogies can be drawn between the two men's work/ideas, and I have not seen anyone trying to do so..

  3. awsome!!, how to spell it? sorry my bad english...

    nothing important... there is no word in portuguese finishing in N...

    Com Amor,

  4. Jorge Márcio Pereira de Andrade writes:

    Andrew, thank you for your attention with my blog, please connect the real adress - without / in the end of this link...
    Best regards from Brazil