Thursday, 28 October 2010

CE's Hungarianness: I disagree, maybe

Not at all like football or pizza, perhaps

Yesterday Conductive World threw down a bit of a gauntlet about the usually unquestioned Hungarianness of Conductive Education:

This has been been picked up and challenged by László Szögeczki on his blog –

Tehat akkor a konduktiv pedogia nem lenne magyar?
Igazsag szerint errol mar beszelgettunk egyszer Andrew Sutonnal, ha emlekezetem nem csal, akkor talan nehany comment erejeig irasban is hozza szoltam ehhez az oltlatehez. Andrew legutobbi bejegyzeseben azt feszegeti, hogy a konduktiv pedagogia igazan nem is magyar, mert... olvassatok el.

Oh, see the rest for yourself at:

I am afraid that this all a bit beyond my limited Hungarian. I do see that Laci makes a point that football started in England and pizza in Italy, and that the first manifestations of what we currently call CE occurred in Hungary, but I cannot tell what he draws from this (not your fault, Laci, my Hungarian's).

I am not sure how far that this really relates to what I was struggling to say and I do hope that those with better access to Laci's argument will be able to help the discussion along.

Yes, this is a hideously laborious process. No wonder one hardly ever comes across any attempt to hammer out shared understandings on vital matters across the Hungarian/non-Hungarian linguistic divide. Think of this – what a bloody disgrace.

All the greater credit to László Szögeczki therefore for trying to argue across this divide... whatever he is saying.


  1. Hi Andrew,
    He says that even if Peto was a jew with Hungarian-Austrian ancestry, he definitely was born and lived in Hungary until his late teens, so the Hungarian environment and circumstances influenced his personality.
    Then despite he got Austrian nationality, and worked there, he started the actual Conductive Education after the 2nd WW in Hungary with Hungarian participants, Hungarian children and Hungarian staff, as well as he started the conductor training in Hungary, and the course obviously was in Hungarian.

    Maybe Andrew you could find information on why certain people from certain "claesses" tended to go to university in Wien, Paris, etc. from Hungary.

    And my personal opinion is that I am not convinced that he had a definite Asutrian ancestry. His father Ármin was a Hungarian jew from Körmend, working as a trademen, and his mother Szidónia Wiener was a Hungarian jew, working as a teacher, and came from Rábakisfalud, which as far as I know today is a part of Szentgotthárd.

    The name Wiener sounds Austrian but this does not mean that he was Austrian, looking at the history of the two countries. (I have an Austrian name although my family lives in Hungary since the end of 1790. This does not make me Austrian at all.)

    I haven't read your article/post on Pető's ancestry, and CE being not Hungarian, but I felt I need to react to this post ASAP.

    ps: Laszlo doesnt state that pizza is Italian or futball is English, he actually questions them, as futball comes from the Arabic world, for example.

    ps2: why is it so hard to comment on this blog without a specific Google Account or Open ID. I didnt know what are these...


  2. Thanks, Prezli, that is really interesting.

    First, though, the mysteries of how Blogger works are outside my comprehension. Sometimes there are simple ways of commenting, sometimes it it near impossible. It does what it does.

    I am not querying where Conductive Education first made its appearance (though I think it could be questioned how clear is our understanding of its appearance through the fog of memory, myth-building and teleology, but that is not my prime interest here). What I am seeking to understand is the origins of the idea(s), the concept(s), the theory or theories that represent and perhaps underpin what we now call Conductive Education. Where did this (I suspect that most would now settle for 'these') come from. Twenty-first-century CE is an amalgam, a blend. What of?

    I have suggested here and elsewhere that this blend represents a folding together of at least the following: Central European Heilung (chiefly German?), certain Jewish philosophy of the turn of the last century, and possibly Oriental medicines, mixed in later with aspects of Soviet-style pedagogy and upbringing, and (a process as yet far from complete, if it continues) incorporated much later still with the aspirations of independent and forceful parents in the Western world. I am sure that I will have missed things out, but I do not think that any of these elements may be omitted in understanding the present mix.

    (By the way, like K. Marx, I have deliberately sat to one side the history of the Orient!)

    In te Wsest, t mixing was, has been and will be a dynamic process. I cannot see a particular catalytic point or points. For example, going back to when there was just AP himself, presumably the Heiling, the Jewish stuff (I am assuming that he was influenced by Buber) and the Orientalism had in 1945 already been present in his mind to some part for some twenty-odd years – and blending there. The work in Budapest did not surely start out of a conceptual vacuum. Similarly, his institute's absorbance into the Hungarian education system much have also been a process, possibly a far from easy one, stretching from the end of AP's own active life and on into MH's watch. And now all around us, as Conductive World has tried to illuminate, another painful process is under way...

    Tracing the development of CE is an exercise in the history of ideas. It is very interesting, perhaps at times it is vital, to know who has held which particular ideas at given points of this process. To some of this (and I count myself amongst these) the real and undiscovered human story may of of supreme importance. But there are others (and I count myself amongst these too) for whom the ideas themselves, generalisable to other practical contexts, are the precious essence of this history.

    Thanks, Laci and Prezli for fanning this discussion. Keep it going, please.


    PS It had not occurred to me that AP's choice of university might be class-based. I have heard (though I know no details) that he intended initially to study in Budapest, and not medicine but journalism. I do not know why he changed. Such matters would be very interesting if one were preparing that much needed biography but I suspect that they are not of relevance here. (I should still love to rad that biography if it ever prepared!)

    PPS Footie, Arab? Well what do you know? I suspect that there is a history-of-ideas thread to be spun there too!

  3. Much to my own chagrain, I cannot leave this discussion without saying a few words, too. That Pető WAS magyar is certainly not subject of arguments. The most inhumane hurt that Fascism caused to a Hungarian (or German)person of Jewish ethnic origin was to suddenly tell them that they were not what they believed themselves to be,i.e.a full (and mostly very patriotic) citizen of the country where they were born and with whose culture they were imbued. Was perhaps Franz Liszt an Austrian?? - by blood, maybe, but there never lived a prouder Hungarian! So, I take it, this is not the point at all.- The particular pedagogic system (nevelés)that has been hallmarked by his name came about in Hungary, too, in the so called Communist society that was forced upon Hungarians for several decades after the Soviet invasion - but certainly for the whole of the rest of P's life after 1945. Where did his ideas come from? What were the philosophic etc. origins of the start of the practice he, and follower Mária Hári created? It can and should be researched along the lines of regular "Geistesgeschichte" - and is being done wonderfully by Andrew Sutton (although we are eagerly awaiting the full publication of his findings. I may add, that in spite of all his self-effacing modesty, A.S. is the 3rd leading person in this row, without whom Pető's work (and name)would never have become "global". As for myself, I am a parent,a Hungarian, who was brought up and educated in Hungary up to half-way through of my university studies. As a result,I cannot help but think dialectically! What I appreciate most of Conductive Education is the synthesis. What it is able to do if properly practiced. Wherever it came from.

    P.S. And it came from Hungary.

  4. Dear Prezli,
    Thanks for sharing with us your knowledge about Peto. It was nice to read about his background, about his parents and childhood.
    Please can you share with us the source of this information? I would love to have a reference and read about this in more detail.
    Many thanks,