Friday, 29 October 2010

Transformation. Time. Testamonio

Not a lot of people know that

Norman Perrin has drawn attention to an interesting item on Julian Dobson's blog, posted on Sunday and called 'Ten things we didn't learn about regeneration':

This blog is called Living with rats. It concerns the regeneration of towns and cities and is about the complexities of life, making mistakes and learning, inspiration and humility:

Sound familiar?

The Conductive Education movement worldwide might be viewed as a desperate attempt to regenerate an intellectual and human slum, if that is how you chose to view how contemporary societies continue to deal with disabled children/adults and their families.

Norman obviously does, enabling him to ponder whether there might be lessons for CE's own institutions from Julian Dobson's ten points. Theey are certainly contain some well-crafted observations/interpretations. I particularly liked this one:

... partnerships – a collection of sworn enemies united in the pursuit of funding...


And I liked a nice rule-of-thumb given in response to the degeneration of a once perfectly good word increasingly into meaningless tosh. The word in question is 'transformation'. I use to use this word myself, to express qualitative change in human mental/social development, relating both to its occurrence and the means that might bring this about – hence, for example, the little book and the much-bigger series of TV documentaries some twenty years ago, The Transformers.

By this analysis Conductive Education could be productively viewed as part of a loose family of theories/practices dedicated to the mutability of human learning, development, personality etc. The family included the approaches of Feuerstein, Heywood, Friere, Wallon, Zazzo and co., and of course the huge panoply of the Soviet psychological/ pedagogic/defectological complex.

In this age of bioligistic determinism, there is no longer much call for that sort of thin . This seems to go for CE too, both internally and externally.

In Germany, by the way, also about twenty years ago, conductive pioneer and campaigner Gabi Haug took her cue from Goethe and used the term Metamorphose in the context of what was still then called konduktive Pedagogie

In English, the word 'transformation' has soldiered on, attracting a rather vitiated meaning. … Julian Dobson devotes the eighth of his ten points to this --

8 Transformation is a dishonest way of describing short-term change. Political cycles, funding programmes and upward accountability create incentives to over-egg the pudding – to make exaggerated claims about the changes our activities have produced. Among the hackneyed and sometimes mendacious expressions used of run-of-the-mill activity, ‘transformation’ is the most glaring. Nobody should be allowed to use it until at least 25 years after completing a project.

I love that last sentence.

Transformation takes time

Twenty five years, a human generation... never mind the exact quantitative tine-span, what is important here when one regards transformation (or otherwise) of human development is the qualitative index of children's growing up – or, if you think dialectically, bringing up your child.

There's a lot of talk about 'branding' in Conductive Education. If you really want to brand anyone with anything (using a very hot iron, that is) you could start with that final sentence, searing it into the consciousness of those who want to experience, provide, market or even 'research' qualitative, transformative change, through Conductive Education or any other means, in some developmental blink of an eye.

The testimonio

This week I am rushing to conclude the final editorial overview of a further new book on CE, this one comprising fourteen testimonios written by parents who have been involved in Conductive Education in the long term, their children now being children no more but young men and women in their twenties.

Research? That depends upon how you regard the testimonio and the tradition(s) that it represents. Anecdotal evidence? Or a long-overdue light upon the transactional and transformative processes and outcomes of conductive upbringing, upon families and much as upon children? If plans turn out, you will be able to judge someting of this yourself when Intelligent love in published in time for the World Congress in December.

The notion of testimonio was first mentioned on Conductive World on 30 March 2009:

This posting quoted the definition given in the 2000 edition of the Handbook of Qualitative Research:

A testimonio is a first-personal political text told by a narrator who is a protagonist or witness to the events that are reported upon. These tellings report on torture, imprisonment, social upheaval, and other struggles for survival. These works are intended to produce (and record) social change. Their truth is contained in the telling of events that are recorded by the narrator. The author is not a researcher, but rather a person who testifies on behalf of history and personal experience.

Understood this way, a life history document is an entry into life, a portal into a culture different from that of the reader. Such texts become vehicles for self-understanding. They connect memory and history to reflexive political action. They create spaces for the voices of previously silenced persons to be heard. In this way the post-modern historian-ethnographer helps create liberating texts.

Conductive World has so far had reason to mention the testimonio in all five times. If you want to look through these enter the word “testimionio” in the box with a magnifying-glass symbol at the lop, left-hand corner of this Blogger page .

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