Monday, 15 November 2010

CE's New Wave – creative, not beholden

Independent, small-scale action
Towards 'transcendent purpose'

On Thursday last Conductive World drew attention to a 'graphic' lecture published on line by the RSA – the Royal Society of Arts – as recommended to me by Ben Sutton. Readers' responses suggested that this was appreciated. Yesterday Ben suggested another one:

This is a lecture by Dan Pink, very germane to Conductive Education's impasse over its own initiative and creativity impasse. Dan Pink's theme is organisation to motivate for transcendent purpose.

Watch this before going on to read my own responses below (oh dear, this sounds a bit like a lecture!). The video takes only ten minutes or so but, I warn you, you may want to watch it nore than once!

How does this chime with me?

With some immediate personal clang responses –
  • this is how the modern movement to extract Conductive Education from Hungary first got off the ground, through the work of the 'Birmingham group' (Philippa Cottam, Jayne Titchener, Ronni Nanton and myself) in the early nineteen-eighties
  • this is how the explosive force of RACE – Rapid Action for Conductive Education – was ignited in the Unite Kingdom in the late nineteen eighties
  • this, I suspect, is what got Tsad Kadima so effectively off the ground at around the same time
  • ditto, somewhat later, for the start-up phases of a variety of local and in rare cases national initiatives in other countries
  • fast-forward to the present time, this resonates with how Gill Maguire, Elliot Clifton and I have started Conductive Education Press (though none of us have 'day jobs')
  • you can feel it echoing in the words of parents and conductors, in the pages of all three books that CEP is publishing over 2009-2010
  • it is certainly there in the small conductive initiatives described recently in Conductive World as the 'New Wave' – you know who you are
  • there is a sense that, every time an individual and/or a family discovers the conductive cause, there is a potential (private) start-up phase that accords with Dan Pink's analysis
  • and not to forget history, fast rewind to the early beginnings of the late-life work of András Pető, in the late nineteen-forties and early nineteen fifties, when he began what we now call Conductive Education – him too
If you too recognise something relevant in Dan Pink's analysis then this is because you already have your own such list.

What about the big battalions?

Victory belongs to the big battalions. So said Napoleon Bonaparte. Is this true in Conductive Education?

Tghis posting not a denial of the place and purpose of larger organisations withing Conductive Education, though in all truth a 'large' CE organisation (with the anomalous exception of the Pető Institute) is still small beans. There is indeed a lose dynamic realtionship between the two sizes, as many acorns wish to become oaks (though some do not wish it and most do not attain it) – and all oaks had an acorn in their life stories!

Perhaps it all depends on the battle that you are fighting.
  • If you wish to provide services to as wide a population as possible, then maybe growing larger organisations is an effective way to go about achieving this – though you might have to argue hard from the track record to date to specify precisely how this has been done, and there are possibly other ways of achieving this goal.
  • If you wish for flexibly and creatively, to develop the enormous potential for Conductive Education to make the world a better place, and do this globally, then perhaps Dan Pink's analysis had someting importantto say to you.
Personal experience colours my own understanding. I remember back to the end of 1986. Victory. We were on the road. But euphoria was more than tinged by the awful realisation that we could only cash in the fairly large sums of money pledged, and slip through the (fast shrinking) opening that the English state system then had open for us, if we had committees, management, 'line management' even, job descriptions etc., etc. – then,  later, goals and targets and all sorts of other such stuff. I recall looking aghast into a future that I could not understand and where what we migh create could prove enemy of initiative and creativity.

I take my hat off to those very few people and institutions in any field who manage to square this circle, resolve this contradiction – put it how you want. You too know who you are.

So thanks again Ben, you certainly hit the spot with this one.


Pink, D. (2010) Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us, RSA Animate

Sutton, A. (2010) Great graphics – and some relevance, Conductive World, 11 November

Sutton, A. (2010) The new wave – personal, family-based conductor practice, Conductive World, 12 November

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