Saturday, 9 October 2010

More from South East Asia

This time it's me!
No, not really

From the Cerebral Palsy (Spastic) Children's Spastic Children's Association of Penang, in Malaysia:–


I cannot remember where I wrote this. There is no attribution and no reference given, but those are my words right enough – though I certainly never spelled 'practice' (noun) in that way! And apart from that 'practise' used as a noun it looks like it has been correctly quoted, in full,with no funny bits slipped in from other sources, as sometimes happens. I cannot remember when it was written, not recently, that's for sure. The passage describes Conductive Education rather in its institutional form and, were I writing this now, I should be putting a little less emphasis upon conductive pedagogy and rather more upon family conductive upbringing. This shift in emphasis is important in this particular context, because of the latter's possibly greater potential relevance to the curcumstances of developing societies.

That apart, I can't complain.

Oh yes I can

This is what the centre says that it actually does under the rubric of Conductive Education.

Conductive Learning

Intensive Motor Skills Development (IMSD) Programme

This programme is based on the principles of Conductive Education developed by Dr. Peto of Hungary. The conductive education is not a treatment but a system, the success of which is influenced by several factors which includes the conductor, the group, the rhythmical intention, the task-series and the daily programme. The system focuses on training the activities of daily living skills as early as possible since it focuses on early intervention


Good luck to them, I suppose I ought to say, but as this example shows people often do not really listen to what ones says, or writes. That somebody, somewhere might have said something or other, anything,  may seem enough reason to quote it as legitimation for what one does, even if it says something altogether different.

Hardly an incentive to write and to publish.

A question of branding

I have no reason to think other than the centre in Penang is doing wonders in enhancing the care, upbringing and well-being of children and families through whatever it is that it does.  Indeed I have no way of knowing anything about what it does at all (other than the suspicion that it has adopted Cottonist practices).

If my own account of what constitutes Conductive Education has any validity (and you may of course wish to dispute all or any of what Penang association quotes from me) then  one might look at what is happening here – and what has happened for years and continues to happen in so many places around the world – is as a question of branding. Please do not think that I am directing any particular opprobrium to the people in Penang. Blame, if that is the right word, must lie further back in the food-chain of knowledge about CE, not in Asia but in Europe, where what are called here 'several factors' were branded Conductive Education. Once done, and passedo down to others,this often ends up being defended to the hilt.

By coincidence, Norman Perrin and Susie Mallett have just been a discussing the question of branding in Conductive Education over on the Paces blog:


I suspect that they will find plenty more to think about in this respect when they are in Hong Kong this December.

For the record

This is the passage that I wrote, somewhere,sometime, for some purpose –

An overview of Conductive Education

Theory and practice

At a theoretical level, Conductive Education recognises the essential human unity of teaching and learning, of the emotional (affective) and the intellective, of the mental and the bodily. It therefore has much in common with the developmental psychology of L. S. Vygotskii and the developmental and pedagogic psychologies of his successors in the then Soviet Union, though attempts to establish a direct link go beyond the evidence. It also of course bears much in common with the neuro-psychology of A. R. Luriya and lends itself readily to explanations in terms of contemporary brain sciences, not least in respect to brain plasticity.

Conductive Education may also be regarded amongst the cognitive educations, such as Brightstart (Heywood) and Mediated Learning (Feuerstein), in that it holds that learning is not dependent upon existing abilities but rather that new abilities are created out of teaching.

Thus children should not be left to ‘fulfil their potential’: rather it is up to teachers (and other adults) to work with children and mediate the world for them, to create new abilities and new potentials. To achieve such transformation any cognitive education requires three essential factors:the belief that such transformation is possible on the part of those who teach; a repertoire of flexible and powerful pedagogic techniques; an organisation to maintain and nourish them. Conductive Education therefore offers neither treatment nor cure. It is a psycho- pedagogic intervention, operating upon learners at the psychological level, upon their emotions, motivations, awareness, skills etc, upon their minds and personalities. It is not a therapy, other than in the sense of a ‘psychotherapy’. Conductors regard themselves as pedagogues.

‘Conduction’ is the linked process of teaching and learning, manifest as emotional and intellective, mental and physical, which characterises conductive pedagogy. The conductor leads (‘conducts’) learners into discovering that they can have new goals, which they themselves can discover and which they themselves can solve in their own ways. The word ‘conductive’ therefore refers to a particular teaching style in which a prime goal is to bring learners to the realisation that they can direct their own learning and moreover share in the joy of their doing so. Satisfaction in learning, ‘learning how to learn’ will be a vital factor in solving problems arising from motor disorders.

The conductive pedagogue aims to avoid the learned (or taught) helplessness that may come from inappropriately directed help for disabled children, doing things for them rather than teaching them to do things for themselves, increasing dependence rather that independence, confirming that they can’t rather than leading them to discover that there may be a way for them, if they can be helped to find it.

To that end Conductive Education uses minimalist aids, be these physical or psychological, and is on constant alert to withdraw or lessen these as soon as they are no longer needed, at any time being sure to provide no more that the ‘least necessary help’. Success is rewarded by appreciation – not necessarily success in the sense of achieving a defined concrete goal but success in terms of trying to make a step along the way. The appreciation is not just that of the conductors but of fellow learners, for conductive pedagogy makes conscious use of the group, the community of fellow learners plus conductors, as a means to generate and confirm new intentions and motivations in the individuals who make it up.

Specifics of conductive pedagogy vary considerably according to the age and conditions of those being taught, the particular task in hand and the circumstances in which it is being taught. The pedagogy has also to be regulated from minute to minute according to both the emerging progress, problems of individual learners and the shifting events and relationships within the group as a whole. All this requires continuous vigilance on the part of the conductors, exercised through an active observation not just of what is happening amongst the learners but also of how the group and its individual learners adapt and learn in response to different pedagogic input and what new inputs prove successful in meeting new challenges to learners (again both in individuals and in the group as a whole). In cognitive education, this would be called continuous dynamic assessment; in Conductive Education, it is ‘conductive observation’.

For all its faults, if it is being published on the Internet, I should rather that this were done under my own name and imprimatur.

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