Thursday, 29 September 2011

Cherish parents

Is this breaucratically possible?

Some definitions
  • Cherish verb  to hold dear, treasure, embrace with interest; indulge, encourage; promote, protect and aid, treat with care tenderness and affection; nurture, care about deeply, have highest regard for: recognise the worth, quality, importance of...
  • Antonyms  not care, abandon, forsake
I think this definition enough for present purposes.

Suspicion of parents

Anne Marie Carrie from the charity Barnardo's was on the radio this morning talking bout the recent fall in the rate of adopting young children in England. She said that one factor in this was that 'we do not cherish parents' the parents who come forward wanting to adopt a child. Instead, we (that is our child-care institutions) treat them with suspicion.

Adopting a child is about as human and humane an activity as you can get.. So is bringing up a disabled child. One might similarly say that we do not cherish parents who bring up disabled children. Instead we (that is the health-education complex) treat them with suspicion.
  • The result for young children awaiting adoption to rescue them from developmentally destructive limbo? They may wait, and wait, and wait... and maybe in the end just sink from view.
  • And disabled children and their families awaiting developmentally appropriate and cherishing services to rescue them from developmentally destructive limbo? They wait, and wait, and wait... and maybe in the end just sink from view.

What do they have in common? Of course causation is multifactorial in both, but through the distracting smoke screens of 'care', 'safeguarding', 'professional experise' etc. one may glimpse that – despite all the talk – that in both we (our governing and managing institutions) simply do not cherish and trust parents enough, indeed we distrust them, and care too little for their 'instincts' and what they understand might be best for their children.

What distinguisheds between the two? Well, at least adoption is something that is talked about, it is on the public agenda, failure to get it right evokes public concern.


Parents of disabled children may experiences 'differences' about the services to be provided for their children when they approach the responsible authorities.
  • This is not just, as may be the more readily expressed, a matter of cognitive difference, intellectual disagreement between on the one hand parents' understandings and choices and on the other those of the 'authorities' (both meanings, hence the inverted commas).
  • There is also a conative, affective, emotional disjunction between what on one side may be a matter experienced and expressed primarily as a matter of 'feeling', and on the other something that is primarily a question of problem-solving, professionalism, disposal.

What to change?

So back to Anne Marie Carrie. She was bold to express herself as she did (and it us interesting that none of the national newspapers who have covered the adoption problem this morning have taken up this aspect of what she said – indicative perhaps of how far 'cherishing' has fallen off the national agenda.
  • Can bureaucracies and their bureau-professionals become and act more cherishingly towards parents, who are as much their clients as are children? What might we do to enable or compel them in this, that would not in itself be to create further dehumanising bureaucracy?
  • Or is it better to recognise that the model through which our society frames its response to profoundly human and humane questions, such as adoption and disability, may be fundamentally wrong or, to use an awful managerialist phrase, 'not fit for purpose'.  To use a just-as-awful political one, 'it is 'time to move on'.

We should not and can not lose the human/humane factor in human affairs, so ultimately it is bureaucracy that must give way, in favour of better ways of running things.

It will be a long, hard road.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

András Pető meets Jean Piaget

A contemporary note

A pszichológia eredményeinek felhasználásáról győződött meg Jean Piaget a Konduktív Mozgáspedagógiai Intézetben is. Itt dr. Pető András igazgató fogadta a vendéget. Részletesen kifejtette a konduktív mozgáspedagógia jellegét, amely az orthomotoros kondukció metodikai egységében magában foglalja a mozgásnevelést, a beszédnevelést, az önellátás és a munkamozgások tanítását, valamint az óvodai és iskolai oktatást.
Az ismertetésben szó volt a „konduktorokról” is, akik a mozgásnevelést és az oktatást is ellátják. Ezek képzése érdekelte leginkább Piaget professzort, mert mint megjegyezte, a képzésnek nagyon sokirányúnak kell lennie. Az ismertetés után Piaget hosszan időzött azokban a termekben, amelyekben a motoros diszfunkciós, a cerebromotoros diszfunkciós és a spinomotoros diszfunkciós gyermekeket, felnőtteket helyezték el. Elbeszélgetett Pető professzorral a tudományos alapossággal kidolgozott mozgásnevelési, beszédnevelési, önellátási stb. gyakorlatokról. Amikor pedig fényképezésre került a sor, Piaget mosolyogva ült a beteg gyermekek közé. Azzal búcsúzott dr. Pető András igazgatótól, hogy mielőbb szívesen olvasna nyomtatásban is az intézet munkájáról, a megfigyelések és kísérletek tapasztalatairó.

Extracted from:

VilmosC. (1964) Jean Piaget Magyarországon, Magyar Pedagogiai Ssemle, 1964/1, pp. 113-115

My thanks to Gabi Földiné Németh and Beata Tóth for so speedily and efficiently finding me a copy of this document when I asked.

I have to admit, though, that the Hungarian language in the passage quoted above is far too complex for me. Would some kind soul out there care to offer me (and lots of other people) an English translation?

A previous posting...

Two new gadgets

Look at the top of the left-hand column

Conductive World now provides a running total of the number of its pages visited since it opened nearly four years ago, in October 2007. At the moment of writing, this stands at:


That is visitors, not postings! The number of postings so far stands today at the round figure of 1,400.

If you would like automated personal email notification of new pages as they are posted, please enter your email address in the box marked


and click on Submit.

Who wrote this? Was it me?

Be careful how you quote

I have just found this, posted from London (UK) in 1997 on a Parkinson's Listserve based at the University of Toronto. There was no source quoted but I think I think that I wrote it. Well, most of it. There is an interpolated paragraph that is not mine – and I have always written 'András' rather than 'Andreas' and am not too sure about that 'Professor' either!. As for the rest, they look terribly familiar...

Conductive Education was developed by Professor Andreas Peto in Budapest after the Second World War. It has been known about in professional circles in the West since the early 1960s, but serious and extensive international interest began only a few years ago.
Conductive Education is not a treatment, and offers no cure. It is a highly developed system of special education directed at teaching people with motor disorders how to function independently. Motor disorders are problems of controlling bodily movements, due to certain conditions of the brain or spine, including in childhood cerebral palsy and spina bifida, and in adulthood Parkinson's Disease, multiple sclerosis and strokes.
[Interpolated paragraph here]
As a system of education (rather than exercise or training) Conductive Education aims to transform the personality as a whole, its emotional as well as cognitive aspects, rather than simply teach motor skills and functions.
The enormous attraction of Conductive Education lies in its apparent results. Visitors to Budapest over the last 20 years have remarked thatmotor-disordered children and adults there do not just function better than might be expected, but also seem different personalities – happier, more satisfied and self-assured, less handicapped.
They are learning and problem-solving independently. In quantitative terms, records indicate that around two thirds to three quarters of children who have undertaken a full-time course at the Peto Institute in Budapest go into the school system at a level appropriate to their mental potential, without the need for aids, adaptations, class-room assistants etc.
[There is also a short final paragraph that I am not altogether sure is mine]

Do feel free to quote...

By all means cut and paste, lift, quote and adapt but, whatever your source, do please state where you found the different passages that you use – not just for the sake and modest blushes of origional authors but also ultimately for the healthy development of Conductive Education – and even your own benefit too.

Where did this passage come from. A quick search suggests that it exists in full nowhere else on the Internet (though disconnected phrases and sentences blow around there like the autumn leaves) so presumably this is from a paper text written quite a long time ago. But what, and written for what purpose? Looking at the text it looks like it was written with children in mind, not adults with Parkinson's.

And not even in 1997, I hope, would I have still been using the tired old jargon of 'problem-solving', and surely certainly no longer perpetrating those dodgy statistics!

The relevance of things written may be situation-specific – and both facts and opinions may cahange over the years – all good reason to site your sources (as well as citing them!) in place and time.

By the way, I wholly accept that this passage was quoted in good will, with the best intentions to explain and inform. If these words were indeed mine then I am pleased and complimented to have been trusted to help. This situation is in no way analogous to the plagiarism of students, pofessionals and academics that Conductive World has railed against over the past couple of years, which is an attempt to pass off the work of others as one's own, for whatever purpose. 

Plagiarists apart, you are most welcome to keep on using my words, and the words of others presumably, but do heed my cautions about doing so. 

This is the interpolated passage:

Conductive Education is generally given in small classes, with a trained leader or "conductor". A typical class begins with relaxation and stretching exercises for arms, legs and trunk, but continues with an variety of cross-correlated exercises - such as (while lying on your back) touching your left shoulder with your right hand and placing your left heel on your right knee at the same time, then swapping sides. All these exercises are performed while singing a tuneful and rhythmic "one, two, one, two..." in unison, at a tempo of about 80-90 beats per minute. There are also exercises in fine hand movements, such as having one hand clenched in a fist and the other splayed out - then progressively opening each finger on one hand while folding each finger in turn on the other. These cross-correlated exercises are particularly important - and many are actually quite difficult even for able-bodied and able-brained adults to perform. A class might last about 2 hours, and it is recommended that patients attend several each week.

I do not know where this came from either, and make no comment.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Different grades of trained staff in Conductive Education

Assistants, barefoots, feldshers, conductors, super-conductors...?

I would not like this topic to go off the boil.

I do not consider creating different grades of trained staff the only potential solution to the present crisis in Conductive Education in the developed economies – or even the central one. Some of it, however, is happening anyway and the question really ought to be subject of more explicit consideration.

More here on this matter soon. Here are some previous postings:

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Sir John Cox

A brief memoir

In a Comment on Facebook, Sheila Fuller remarks –

I … couldn't understand the reasoning behind an ex-admiral in the navy as Chief Exec for, as they were known then, the Spastics Society.

The world was so very different then. At that time the Spastics Society was already, after just thirty years' existence, a well respected establishment organisation, and a recently retired Admiral would been seen as a safe pair of hands. Another change since those days is that he was its Director, not Chief Executive.

When Sir John Cox was appointed Director of the Spastics Society, in 1984, the organisation was already on the way into to transition from being a parents' organisation into what it was becoming at that time. By all accounts he appears to have made a good job of this.

Chas McGuigan and I had quite a bit to do with him over another matter, because of the Society's then determined opposition to the intention of the Foundation for Conductive Education and of the national parents' campaign, RACE (Rapid Action for Conductive Education) that Chas chaired, to introduce Conductive Education into the United Kingdom – and the assertion that to do so would require conductors. The Spastics Society disagreed, arguing the to me rather contradictory position that (a) CE was not really all that good and (b) the Society was doing it anyway, without conductors. Distant drums!

I always found him a decent man, bemused and uncomfortable at the company that he found himself in there. In 1988 he resigned and, though this was reported at the time to be something to do with how the Society was dealing with Conductive Education, the truth of what was going on never emerged.

Sir John Cox was succeeded by Ken Young, Chief Executive

Friday, 16 September 2011


Legal, decent, honest and truthful?

'The successful candidate will be Peto-Institute trained...'

Such advertisements have appeared over recent years. Here is an example published today, from a local-authority school in England:

What to say?

If such an advertisement were to appear on CONDUCTIVE WORLD JOBS what might one have to comment under it?
  1. You are of course free to express your wishes how you will – but, before you do write words such as 'The successful candidate will be Peto-Institute trained' you might like to double-check the legal position in your country, to see whether this might constitute unlawful discrimination according to your employment law.
  2. Whatever your legal position, you might with to check the requirements for this job, to see whether you are needlessly limiting your field.
  3. Whatever you find, you might wish to consider whether you are causing offence.
It would then be a matter for the advertiser to take appropriately considered steps.

An interesting job

The advert continues –

Royal Park is a mainstream school with specialist provision for up to 14 children with cerebral palsy... As part of this provision we offer conductive education within the Move Curriculum.

The relationship between CE and MOVE has often been stated as though the two approaches are incompatible – or even mutually antagonistic. What has Royal Oak School achieved? This ought to be described.

Perhaps initial training at the Pető Institute offers special advantages in squaring this circle. Again, we should be told.


Thursday, 15 September 2011

An anecdote from olden times

Some recent daft advice
And a serious point

In the mid-eighties, shortly after the screening of Standing up for Joe, at the hight of the national CE-fever, I was at some CE-related event at the Houses of Parliament. I was approached by some beamish Sir Bufton-Tufton MP, exuding the desire to say something to indicate his positive, beefy good will.

'What I can't understand though is why, if their legs don't work, they can't just have them amputated and articificial ones fitted...'

I wonder whether the world as a whole understands cerebral palsy any better now.

And today, from America

(2011) What is cerebral palsy? Heath Talk Buzz, 7 September

What an unutterable stinker!

What has changed?

At a fundamental level

Is either analysis reported here really any more or less sophisticated that the pervasive understanding that 'physical disability' is centrally  just that, 'physical', and particularly a matter of mobility?

Recent correspondence in mind:

* Sir Bufton Tufton MP

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Registered CE charities in England and Wales

Not as many as one might think

Fate took me today down a dusty byway that I have not ventured into for a couple of years now: the Charity Commission's Register of Charities.

While I was there I thought that it might be interesting to see what is new so I went to the search box and entered “Conductive Education” to see what it could find listed under Charity Titles and Charity Objects:

Nothing new here

This is what I found:

Action for Conductive Education (ACE)

BADJ Conductive Education Ltd

Charjoe Conductive Education

Conductive Education North East Ltd

Foundation for Conductive Education

Gloucestershire Rapid Action for Conductive Education

Megan Baker House

Merseyside Association for Conductive Education

National School for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Paces Sheffield

Paces Sheffield

Rainbow House for Conductive Education

Steps – Leicestershire Conductive Education Centre

The Hornsey Trust for Handicapped Children

The Hornsey Trust for Handicapped Children

The Rainbow Centre for Conductive Education

The Rainbow Centre for Conductive Education

The UK Network for Conductive Education

Unity Conductive Education

Three have deregistererd over the years (two of these reregistering immediately on slightly different terms) but nobody has taken the Registered Charity route for some time when opening a new Conductive Education organisation, not at least with the phrase Conductive Education emblazoned in its title or its charitable object.

Totting it up, there are only FIVE extant CE charities operating in England and Wales with the words Conductive Education in their titles and/or charitable objects – say perhaps, say, ten altogether including those more coy about what they do. 

Not just CE charities

Why so few now? Surely there are far more CE centres and services in England and Wales.

Of course there are, see Gill Maguire's updated listing:

This includes the whole of the United Kingdom, not just England and Wales – but there is only one service each in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Perhaps people no longer see any attraction in registering or staying registered with the Charity Commission, and fear yet another bureaucratic thicket. New work in Conductive Education in England is presumably operating under alternative financial-administrative arrangements, as businesses, consultancies or unregistered charities (I gather that some two-thirds of charities in England are not registered – and may have good reason for not so being). 

And of course some of the services that Gill lists are part of state schools or larger charities.

(There is a further important caveat here. Gill's listing is carefully defined as referring to places where conductors are employed. 'Having a  conductor', part-time, full-time or even more than one on site, is no guarantee that an establishment provides a Conductive Education. Though no guarantee either, inclusion of Conductive Education in a charity's objects, offers some assurance.)

All this notwithstanding, there persists a stereotype, an expectation, of a Conductive Education charity's being the one way of setting up a CE service in the UK. Like many another stereotype, it is a bit of a myth. Those considering starting something new should look with greater confidence to other ways of going about things, as others are also doing.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Gold standard for services for motor disorders

Whatever should it be?

There seems a widepread mindset in the modern world that 'physiotherapy' (or 'physical therapy') may implicitly stand as some sort of gold standard, against which other responses to motor disorders, and other conditions, ought to be judged – and very often are.

How ahistorical and unthinking, yet people in Conductive Education may be drawn into this discourse, perhaps thereby helping legitimate it, while longer-term advantage urges that they should challenge it whenever raised.

From the otherwise generally recognised standpoint that developmental disorders deserve appropriately formulated and delivered special-eduational services, it is the approach that might be regarded as the more rightful gold standard.

So, what is physiotherapy?

To set against such standard, what is physiotherapy? This is how the World Health Organisation defines it—

Physiotherapists assess, plan and implement rehabilitative programs that improve or restore human motor functions, maximize movement ability, relieve pain syndromes, and treat or prevent physical challenges associated with injuries, diseases and other impairments. They apply a broad range of physical therapies and techniques such as movement, ultrasound, heating, laser and other techniques. They may develop and implement programmes for screening and prevention of common physical ailments and disorders.

No comparison. No contest. No question.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Chinese CE in photos

Lots and lots (and lots) of still images

One can search for "引導式教育" in all sorts of ways.

Google Images, for example. Search for "引導式教育" and you will come up with over sixteen-thousand results.

Probably a lot of these are false identifications but there are a couple of familiar faces on the first page of results, and enough wooden furnituture on show on the rest to make think of deforestation.

Previous item on Chinese CE


La lutte continue...

From France Roland Lefèvre writes –

Andrew, INSHES, formerly CNEFEI that published such a negative a report on Conductive Education, has just published a special journal issue of its Nouvelle revue, called 'Mul tiple Disability The Challenge of Learning':
We publish an article there, presenting our work:
Here is the publishers' Summary of their article, in French and in English –
L’enfant polyhandicapé et ses apprentissages à l’EME La Montagne
Multiply disabled children: how they learn at the medical-educational institution (EME) “La Montagne“
Annick Champolion-Puel, Bernadette Damon, Roland Lefevre
Résumé Les jeunes polyhandicapés confrontent les équipes en charge de leur accompagnement à un véritable défi en raison de l’importance des atteintes qui les affectent. Les équipes médico-éducatives de l’EME La Montagne à Liancourt (Oise) sont depuis quatre décennies à la recherche de modalités d’accompagnement éducatives et pédagogiques appropriées. Elles expérimentent à cet effet depuis une douzaine d’années la « pédagogie conductive » (ou « éducation conductive ») d’András Peto et essayent d’en adapter les principes dans leur travail. Ces principes sont rappelés ici, avant que soit explicité le travail engagé avec les équipes auprès des enfants polyhandicapés admis à l’externat de l’EME, et donné la parole aux familles.
Mots-clés Éducation conductive - Éducation (des jeunes polyhandicapés) - Établissements médico-éducatifs - Pédagogie conductive - Polyhandicap - Projets éducatifs - Psychopédagogie - Travail en équipe.

Summary: Due to the seriousness of the disorders they suffer from, young multiply disabled persons offer a true challenge to the teams in charge of their education. The medical-educational teams of the EME “La Montagne“ at Liancourt (in the Oise département) have been seeking appropriate educational and pedagogical methods for the past four decades. For this purpose they have experimented with the “conductive pedagogy“ (or “conductive education“) of András Peto for about 12 years, and are attempting to adapt its principles in their work.  These principles are presented here, followed by an explanation of the work done by the teams in educating multiply disabled children attending this EME while living at home,  as  well as discussions with the children’s families.
Keywords  Conductive education - Conductive pedagogy - Education (of young multiply disabled persons) - Educational projects - Medical-educational institutions - Multiple disabilities - Psychopedagogy - Team work.

For new readers...

The French seem to favour extraordinary abbreviations to designate official bodies (I don't know whether they try to acronymise them in everyday speech). I do not know whether CNEFEI's change of name that Robert refers to also betokened a change of purpose – or people:

Be that as it may, in 1999 CNEFEI had published a deeply negative, and 'official', report on Conductive Education at the Pető Institute, that has pretty well scuppered major development in France for over decade.

For a note on the long, patient road back, see:

For specific details of the 1999 report, see:

One can appreciate Roland's satisfaction at this latest step in CE's rehabilitation on France.

La lutte continue...

Friday, 9 September 2011


Economics and China, again

Listening to the astonishing parade of economic gloom on this morning's news I was told that one light in the general gloom is that China'smassive economy is still growing – with the obvious proviso that this alone is not enough on its own to maintain the world's economy.

WHAM! And such, I guess, may also be the case in the micro-world of Conductive Education.

So, reminder that it it time for another a quick peep into the world of Chinese Conductive Education. Why not try for yourself.

Google it

Search using the Chinese characters for 'Conductive Education' (never mind what precisely this means – just that it is probably more precise than is use of the equivalent term in the West!):


Cut and paste this into Google search (or the search engine of your choice) and search in the normal way, including the inverted comms around the phrase.

POW! Rather a lot isn't there!

Read in English

Most of the entries are in Chinese, from Hong Kong, the People's Republic and Taiwan. Don't be intimidated by this. You will see than quite a few entries are followed by the words 'Translate into English'. Click on these words to receive an almost immediate translation.

Chinese languages adapt surprisingly well to machine translation – enough anyway to get an idea of what is going one. Here is one entry that I  just clicked on at random:

PHEW! I presume that, by '$ 1.2 million', the South China Morning Post means US dollars.'

It's another world, isn't it?

I wonder what the organisers of the 8th World Congress of Conductive Education will be doing to reflect how the world is going to look in 2013, in all the Wham, Pow and Phew that we can reasonably expect before then, macro and micro!


Meanwhile, a couple more (from many)

Sunday, 4 September 2011


The way things were

As Conductive Education burst on to the public agenda in the United Kingdom in the late nineteen-eighties, it found powerful enemies ready to oppose it. These included, in no especial order of merit:
  • some big disability charities (Public Enemy Number 1: the Spastics Society)
  • some existing special schools
  • some of the special-education establishment
  • many therapists (especially physiotherapists) and rehabilitation doctors
  • many of the 'five-principles' people
  • many in the inclusion movement
  • many in the disability movement
To a large degree, similar oppositionist tendencies followed Conductive Education around the English-speaking world, with one exception: nowhere else did CE seem to attract the virulent opposition of an articulate, 'academic' wing of the disability movement, at anything like the degree that it did in the United Kingdom.

Conductive Education as oppression

Here is an example, from an influential spokesman (himself paraplegic) and, by focusing upon 'walking', helped confirm a major public and professional misunderstanding. Further, this particular statement was made in a professorial inaugural address, thereby conferring  further academic imprimatur 
The ideology of normality permeates most rehabilitation practice; from paediatrics through rheumatology and on to geriatrics. One example of where it surfaces is the current `success' of conductive education. Many disabled people are profoundly disturbed by the ideology underpinning conductive education which I have likened to the ideology of Nazism (Oliver 1989).
Lest anyone should be unclear about what's wrong with conductive education, its pursuit of nearly walking to the detriment of family, social and community life for many disabled children, can only be countenanced as therapeutic intervention.
If able-bodied children were taken from their local school, sent to a foreign country, forced to undertake physical exercise for all their waking hours to the neglect of their academic education and social development; we would regard it as unacceptable and the children concerned would rapidly come to the attention of the child protection mafia. But in the lives of disabled children (and adults too), anything goes as long as you call it therapeutic.
What can be pernicious about ideology is not simply that it enables these issues to be ignored but sometimes it turns them on their heads. Hence conductive education is not regarded as child abuse but as something meriting social applause, as something to make laudatory television programmes about, as something worthy of royal patronage, and finally as something that should be funded by government and big business alike.
The reality, not the ideology of conductive education, and indeed many other rehabilitation practices, is that they are oppressive to disabled people and an abuse of their human rights. We should not pretend it is any other way.
Oliver M (1989) Conductive Education: If it wasn't so sad it would be funny, Disability Handicap & Society, vol. 4, no 2, pp. 197-200
Mike Oliver's complete inaugural address, from which the above passage has been extracted, can be seen at:


The brief published article from 1989, referred to above, is now of course on line:

I had been shown Mike Oliver's original draft of this article, in the form in which it was originally submitted to the journal Disability Handicap & Society. That was before referees and editors cut it back and toned it down for publication. The unmoderated version went beyond merely standing Conductive Education alongside the Holocaust, it compared Mária Hári with Adolf Hitler.

To say the least this could be regarded as a mite culturally insensitive. And given that at the time Mária was still very much alive it was potentially hurtful as well – in view of her own close brush with transport to Auschwitz (or something more summary). In the event, however, that bit at least did not see its way into print.

Days gone by

I suppose that the opposition generated by Conductive Education in those days, and the spleen vented along the way, was a mark of how serious a threat Conductive Education was felt to be by established interests. Conductive Education in the United Kingdom today, however, no longer  poses such a thread, and is no longer regarded as 
...something meriting social applause, as something to make laudatory television programmes about, as something worthy of royal patronage, and finally as something that should be funded by government and big business alike (ibid.).
Far from it! Further, as far as I know, elsewhere in the world it never attained anything like this degree of public attention. Indeed, as I am frequently reminded, it has now been largely forgotten outside of a narrow range of local and personal interests. 

Professor Oliver and his followers played his own small but significant role in this change in the Zeitgeist.

Echoing on

And their voice reverberates still:

Saturday, 3 September 2011

CE: just another duff therapy

Conventional wisdom from 'expert writer'

Conductive education, developed in Hungary in the 1940s, is another physical therapy that at one time appeared to hold promise. Conductive education instructors attempt to improve a child’s motor abilities by combining rhythmic activities, such as singing and clapping, with physical maneuvers on special equipment. The therapy, however, has not been able to produce consistent or significant improvements in study groups.

The writer is one Wilbert Brians. Who he?

Don't shoot the messenger

Mr Brians merely conveys an uncritical, inexpert reflection of what is scattered across the Interent, with apparent authority and in plenty. Why should he or anyone else conclude any different?

CE as therapy?

The general verdict on CE from those who deal in therapy is by now pretty clear.

If for no other reason than that, steer well clear of the notion.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Small and warm-blooded

Towards identifying a new way

Ever since Conductive Education expanded out of Hungary (and maybe even before that) there have been conductors who have worked on their own, or perhaps with a single colleague, and with minimum administrative superstructure. There are different reasons for doing so from personal preference to personal necessity, and many circumstances in which this has been done. The resulting practices have turned out rather different from those of conductors who have found employment in existing organisations and fitted in with the ethos and ways of working of already established patterns of work, and they also vary considerably between themselves, but such small individual practices seem to have one factor in common – they are very personal.

Some conductors have been working continuously in this way since the early internationalisation of Conductive Education and have built up years of personal experience. Others are setting out only this summer, going straight from initial training into individual practice. In general 'the literature', such as it is, has taken scant notice of this strand of conductive practice. Though Judit Szathmáry, Susie Mallett and others have been redressing the balance through their blogging, the general characteristation of Conductive Education in writings in less dynamic contexts remains largely untouched, not least in failing to include appropriate account of the personal/ inter-personal nature of conduction – a 'human element' that appears much to the fore in small-scale practice.

Some small things this summer

Here are some postings/links on my Facebook page from over the months of July and:August:

All link to small personal practices of one or two conductors, working sometimes with others, adapting to establish themselves in very different ecological niches. Nothing new here, or straws in the wind? Who knows? Keep watching developments.

A Darwinian perspective
Here is a brief extract from notes for a lecture, given in December 2008, on the possible future of Conductive Education in a world of financial crisis.

Who/what will survive (not just in Conductive Education)?
again, think positive
for example, think Triassic-Jurassic extinction
the dinosaurs almost all disappeared (leaving a few alligators, some turtles and a lot of birds)
     ...but also leaving the mammals to inherit the earth!

Now is the time for little bunnies to look to their potential strengths:

adapt and evolve
find comfortable ecological niches
adapt and multiply
and take over the world
And here are the notes for its third, concluding part
3.    So… whatever next?

Conductive Education may not be able to survive intact in the now familiar forms of its international stage
And there will be no time to redeploy and reconstruct to resolve its internal contradictions for itself
External forces may impose such change upon us
     ...more and faster than might be wished
     ...if, to put it simply, the money dries up.

That need not necessarily mean curtains for Conductive Education and the heritage of András Pető
What are our evolutionary advantages (and disadvantages)?
What are the triumphs/failures?
What are the strengths/weaknesses of world-wide Conductive Education?
These may be vital factors in what happens next:

Triumphs/strengths. Demonstrable adaptability; geographical spread and diversity (in practice and structures); continuing parental enthusiasm; a continuing implicit identity (but see next paragraph); a mass of barely realised potentials yet to be elaborated/demonstrated; an as yet barely realised generalisability to a wider range of applications/conditions;vdemonstrable potential for adaptation to new theatres (Internet, developing world, others?); long, often productive experience (by some) of attack, shortage, stress and endurance; a tradition of survival against the odds despite severe shortage and adamant opposition (András Pető again, and also many of the international pioneers of recent years); some very idealistic and altruistic people. As a result, conductive pedagogy has been successfully implemented, in all sorts of situations. What else?
Failures/weaknesses. No coherent, agreed explicit account of the system; therefore all sorts of would-be emulations; no effective representative bodies (employers, employees, users); so no unified positions/actions; little culture of collaboration; no obvious allies in existing systems; no political support, no leadership, or 'followership'; poor communication, internal and external: some 'weak links'. And with rare exceptions, conductive upbringing, CE's potentially strongest card, has been largely set aside. Er… that's enough failures and weaknesses for now!

Remember the mammals. Can Conductive Education's evolutionary advantages be utilised to outweigh its evolutionary vulnerabilities? Exciting times for the small and warm-blooded! The prospect does rather remind me of the spirit of twenty years ago.
To read the whole lecture (with recent annotations) go to:

Small is beautiful (an economic perspective)

A long time ago now, around the time of the 'energy crisis' in the early nineteen-seventies and after, one heard much of the British (initially German) economist, E. F. Schumacher. His term 'intermediate technology' has entered the language but his ideas were swimming against the stream, against what later (and still?) might have been generally thought to be the tide of history. He died in 1977, though perhaps the last laugh may still be his.
The expression 'Small Is Beautiful' was not his originally his own, but his book of the same name did much to justify and popularise its tenets. These include:
  • Small appropriate technologies empower
  • Workplaces should be above all dignified and meaningful, and only secondarily efficient
  • Consider the most appropriate scale for an activity (bigger is not of itself necessarily better)
Taking conductive pedagogy as a pedagogic technology, then E. F. Schumacher's economics and philosophy (and his 'Bhuddist economics') may ring powerful bells for progressive forces within Conductive Education, and help argue for small conductive practices in both the developing and the declining economies.

If you do not believe that economics can be human – and funny – then see some of these short video snippets:
With respect to Conductive Education's present inner dialogues, also consider his 'three stages of development' of how people think of things:
  • The first leap was the move from stage one, primitive religion, to stage two, scientific realism.
  • Most people nowdays are at stage two.
  • A few move to the third stage and see something beyond fact and science.
  • People stuck at stage two, may see stages one and three as much the same (how dialectical!) and may therefore regard stage-three people as falling back into childish nonsense.
Stage-two people will probably maintain their thinking for as long as they can regard themselves part of a secure, authoritative social consensus. And how secure is that?
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