Monday, 25 October 2010

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Who is in charge of those in charge?

Yesterday Conductive Word took up and extended a question from a few days ago on the Conductor blog. Who, it had been asked on the Conductor are CE congresses for? Who, it was asked on Conductive World, is Conductive Education for?

Here is an extended question arising from consideration of this – perhaps an altogether separate question, perhaps interwoven Who is safeguarding Conductive Education, who is in charge, and who is checking on those who are – who is making sure that they are making a decent job of it?

Conductive Education's 'four estates'

Disabled people. There are precious few disabled people 'in' conductive Educaion at all, and many of those that are are attend short-term for sessions and then move on. For those who are left there have emerged no mechanisms whereby disabled people may take any ownership of Conductive education.

Families of motor-disordered children. A larger population – but, again, a substantial proportion of this has only a fleeting contact with the system before moving on, having 'done Conductive Education'. Again too, those who stay, the conductive upbringers and long-term proponents, have no mechanism for developing common positions, never mind for expressing and pressing common analyses and demand.

Conductors. How many are there worldwide with reasonable claim to be considered actively involved in Conductive Education? In the ordwe of three or four hundred of all ages? I honestly do not know. Nor do I know what proportion of this number has long-term involvement in the system, though this is certainly a higher proportion than is the case for two above-mentioned groups. There are formally constituted, participatory conductors' associations in Hungary, Germany and New Zealand. Maybe in those countries these organisations have actively appropriated some authority over how Conductive Education develops. Perhaps not – nobody tells so nobody knows. As for the rest of the world, there is no sign of conductors collectively seeking to take some public possession of their work. Perhaps they do so non-publicly, but if so then by definition this goes unseen, and the likelihood is that it does not exist.

Centres, programs and other providing/employing institutions. Of all three estates these have the strongest case for ownership that money grants. They take money from the clients (or from the state or insurance companies on their clients' behalf) and pay it to the conductors. Further, in so far as CE has a public-relations wing, they control it – in so much that CE seeks to exercise any political influence at all, then this tends to be through them too. But they too have no mechanisms for mutual communication, no mechanisms for collective action – or if they have, again nobody has been able to hear of it, so de facto it does not exist.

The 'four estates' suggested here are not water-tight compartments. Some parents, for example, may become employers; some conductors may become parents or employers; and there way be other ways in which membership of these estates might interweave and interact. The classification proposed above is merely a notional tool.

Are there any other estates within Conductive Education? It would be nice to hear their claims argued. The only ones that spring immediate to mind are 'the researchers' and 'the funders' In either case their links with each other, or often even to CE itself may, may need powerful advocacy. I leave this task to others.

Big assemblies, conferences and congresses

Every now and then, not that often, there are big get-togethers, national and/or international. These are not academic meetings in the contemporary sense of this term. Nor are they parliaments in the old sense of that word (the one to which the term 'estates' relates).

Such meetings demonstrate five striking features:
  • they assemble a mix of all four estates (though not in proportionate numbers)
  • participants are self-selected (not delegated or elected)
  • they do not serve to crystallise knowledge/awareness
  • they do not make decisions (or even take public stances)
  • they do not control or safeguard Conductive Education (or, of they do, they do so exceedingly discretely).
Others may wish to challenge or add to these. Please do

So, who is is in charge, and who is watching them?

These big get-togethers are not in charge – and nobody is in charge of them. They do their thing.

With perhaps local (that is national) exceptions, the 'estates' mentioned above have no structure of their own, and no corporate mechanisms to exercise internal control or discipline on anything, and no mandated authority to act externally.

So, in a vacuum, individuals and institutions all do their things, the best that they can aspire to in their given circumstances, with little or no idea – or worse, wrong ideas – of what the rest of the world is up to.

As far as Conductive Education is concerned, to Juvenal's question quis custodiet ipsos custodes ('Who should be in charge of the people who are in charge?), the present answer seems a simple, one: Ipsi cives ('Let the citizens themselves be in charge').

There is no foreseeable alternative to the present situation. This you may, according to your choice, regard as a true commonwealth of endeavour and a favourable realisation of the word 'anarchism – or as a recipe for isolation, anomie – anarchy.

When I was a lad, about the only concept that we were offered to explain how our society worked was through the mechanism of 'checks and balances'. Every group of significance took a hand in deciding how things should be, but everyone was subject to having to take account of the interests and the influence of all the others. I suspect that Conductive Education may not be alone nowadays in preferring a more formalised constitutional settlement!

To return to the specific issue that set off this line of thought, if the body that governs the CE World Congress does not in stipulate normal standards for disabled attendance, then whose job is it to step in and bring it to task? Quis custodiet?

You should. You are as entitled as anyone to do so and, if you do not, then nobody will.


  1. Once upon a time, long ago it now seems, as a parent and the founder of a CE organisation in the UK, I looked to the "National Institute of Conductive Education" for leadership and as the rallying point for CE in the UK.

    Has the Institute withered on the vine? Seemed like a good idea at the time.

  2. I have come to learn that in Britain every profession has an "Institute" (some are"chartered" or "Royal")which is at the same time a regulatory body, too. Regulatory bodies have rights and obligations, codes of ethic, and also legal powers. These days of devolved government practices they are also expected to invite participation not only from the professionals themselves but also from those people (if it's a profession concerned with humans)who they are working for, as professionals...

    So, I agree with Norman, the National Institute of C.E. AND the Foundation for C.E.- together, maybe - could be expected to work out a form to continue to offer framework for the "estates" Andrew enrolled.

    By the way, disabled adulsts - who used to be children "in families practicing conductive upbringing" -also constitute part of the conductive world.

  3. Norman, this was not an idea, it was the intention. The institution in question was the Foundation for Conductive Education and you can see what it was set up to do in its Mems. and Arts. The word 'foundation' was an intentional pun!

    The National Institute was just a building to house some of the Foundation's activities.

    Emma, actually the majority of such bodies are associations or societies (there are other words too) but you are correct in spirit.

    Both (and others), Sorry if I appeared to omit children who have grown up... they are disabled adults too in my own way of looking at things.

    Both (and others), I haven't forgotten pledge to finish the above but computer presently even wonkier thn myself.