Monday, 28 February 2011

There remains a mountain to climb

In the United States, the Child Injury Law Blog writes –

Medical Facilities Concentrating On Assisting Children With Cerebral Palsy
Years ago, the treatment options for children with cerebral palsy were incredibly limited. Today, there is an increased understanding of the condition and the specific treatment needed to provide the most significant impact for children with CP.
... a new generation of treatment facilities specifically [is] geared towards helping children with cerebral palsy.
Utilizing conductive education, a program developed by Hungarian researchers in the 1940's, the program focuses on using techniques to re-train the brains of children. The Center utilizes the expertise of: physical therapists, occupational therapists in conjunction with other therapeutic modalities.
Not surprisingly, the costs for these treatments can be significant...
Cerebral Palsy In Children
Unlike many medical conditions afflicting children that may be due to genetic defects, cerebral palsy is a condition that may be traced to an injury to the brain. Many scientists now believe the brain injury is due to a lack of oxygen immediately prior to and during the birthing process...
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers represents families in cerebral palsy due to trauma at birth. If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, call us today and talk candidly about your concerns. All legal consultations are free and completely confidential. Why not begin the process today and secure your child's future? 888-424-5757

This about says it all.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

An open letter to Dr Bertalan Meskó

In response to a posting on Conductive World on Tuesday, Bertalan Meskó writes –

Dear Andrew,
Thank you for writing about the Webicina section dedicated to Conductive Education! The resources included in that application were selected manually based on the available author information, blog description, quality of posts, references inside the entries, etc.
We are absolutely open to suggestions and please feel free to tell me your opinion about it so we can improve the service (which is free for everyone).
Best regards,
Dr. Bertalan MeskóManaging Director of 

Dear Bertalan

Thank you for your kind and open response.You undertake an important task and I do not envy you some of the problems and criticisms that you will inevitably meet along the way. I hope that few will prove as tricky for you as those of Conductive.Education.

Formal literature

By this I mean here the 'technical literature' published in professional/academic journals.Webicina has presented some of this at:

The field of 'CE research' is immensely problematical. Much of it would ape empirical evaluation in the medical sciences and, as all systematic reviews confirm, its bulk is methodologically inadequate in these terms. Worse, it is often conceptually unsound too, demonstrating little/no concern for the most basic question: what is the nature of the phenomenon under consideration?

(An example of the latter: you cited a couple of Chinese studies. As far as I can tell, the ever more considerable body of evaluations of Conductive Education in China has been carried out without benefit of a single conductor's ever having worked in that country. What is done in China under the rubric of 'Conductive Education' might be the most excellent work, conferring the most excellent benefits, but what is actually practised and evaluated there is done without access to the traditions of Conductive Education as these have been understood in Hungary and should be reviewed and considered in its own right. And extreme example perhaps, but a telling one)

Methodologically inadequate and conceptually unsound – and even the better ones produce at best inconclusive judgements on the benefits of Conductive Education, and at worst a generally negative impression.

I recognise that none of this is your problem, but conveying this material unwittingly adds to the problems of Conductive Education.

Informal writing

By this I mean here mainly the vast and growing assembly of writing from Conductive Education services around the world – and increasingly now the CE-bloggers, as demonstrated by The Conductive Post:

Webicena has sampled the wider field of informal writing on line at:

Amongst all this are found some of the liveliest and most sensitive writing yet to have emerged about Conductive Education, in the form of both accounts and analysis – and an awful lot of stuff that is just sheer dreadful:

(Again a concrete example: the 'Angels' blog that prompted our correspondence has been a welcome addition to the CE-blogosphere. It presents a conductor's eye view, a vivid, from-the-heart account of a psycho-social process and of its human outcome, complimentary to the blog postings of other conductors. Then Bang! –  it sums up with a form of words, a mantra, that has spread confusion and at times despair in the movement to bring Conductive Education to the world. Could such 'elements' really bring about the processes, the life, the outcomes described? Adopt your own personal plausibility test. Meanwhile, we have the matter in microcosm, in one swoop undermining not only the author's own good efforts to communicate the essential soul of conductive pedagogy and conductive upbringing, but also those of others who struggle against such misinformation.)

Still, vox pop. vox Dei, nowhere more so than on line. I find my feelings on what I read about Conductive Education there tempered by belief in the over-riding principle of freedom of expression – however much I may disagree with what is said. Perhaps the 'wisdom of the crowd' will one day sort all this out, and perhaps what Webicina is doing might hasten that day. I do apologise for having assumed that your site is machine-generated. Good luck with the process of hand-selection, whatever inclusion-criteria you adopt. Whatever your criteria though, I wholly acknowledge your right to chose them.

Again, fundamentally not your problem. Ours.

A question of paradigm

Spastic muscles, athetoid movements, Parkinsonian tremor etc. are reasonably characterised as matters of health and medicine, to be understood and responded on an appropriate plane, within an appropriate paradigm, utilising appropriate concepts, methods, vocabulary and concepts. I wish every success to those who work to understand and ameliorate such problems is this way.

(And yes, I do recognise that the matter is rather more complex than stated here, with systemic effects operating not only upwards but also down, but this degree of complexity is unnecessary to make the present point).

'Motor disorders' cannot be reduced to the level of, say, spasticity, or athetosis or tremor. They constitute the dynamic, systemic sequelae of such biological-level problems, disorders  of development, dislocations of the essential mechanisms linking individuals to their social and material worlds, affecting active learning (and therefore teaching, by whomsoever does it) and consequently the whole development of the human personality).

What in English is called Conductive Education operates on the psycho-social plane – hence in Hungarian the more meaningful terms konduktív pedagógia és konduktív nevelés. The 'Peto method' is distinct from other approaches to motor disorders because it introduces a different philosophy for understanding the situation, for caring and for providing services, and a way of life for everyone involved.  No treatment or therapy this.

This radical paradigm shift the (mostly medical) academic researchers who have stumbled into this field – and it is not always perceived with clarity even by some enthusiasts within. Again, not your problem. Ours.

And, towards the end of an already over-long letter, to introduce a further complication: Conductive Education is a relatively new and still rather unsophisticated field. It is fair that Medicina should communicate this.

What to do?

I merely state such problems. I offer no solutions. Nor do I imply that you should do so for us. Such problems are inherent to the present nature and institution of Conductive Education itself – and its place in the world. Perhaps from those who read this posting someone will come forward with a way forward. I do not hold my breath in anticipation.

Congratulations with what you are achieving with Medicina. Many of us in Conductive Education will envy your success in attracting attention to your site. My best wishes to you for your future work.


Recent postings relevant to this topic


While I was laboriously composing the above posting I saw Norman Perrin's forceful and to-the-point response, to be found as a Comment at the foot of the above postings. Here is how Norman put it –

Bessemer steel; the art of the Victorian sampler; phenomenology: just three searches I have done in the past few days for which's remarkable PeRSSonalized search tool would have been no use at all. Why? Because it is an avowedly MEDICAL tool.
Should I wished to learn about Acne, Aids & HIV or Allergy no doubt it might be most useful
PeRSSonalized, to this non-specialist eye, is an impressive-looking resource.
What I do not understand is what Conductive Education (or upbringing or pedagogy) is doing there as a searchable Category, sitting between Cardiology and Dentistry as a "Medical Specialty". Can we look forward to searchable categories on Montessori, Steiner and other philosophies and systems of education, Swedish Free Schools or American Charter Schools?
I note, by-the-by, that whilst "Autism" is listed as a "Medical Condition" coming after "Asthma", cerebral palsy is not listed.
When will the education and upbringing of children with cerebral palsy escape the clutches of the medical profession?

Ah well, having got so far, I decided to plough my furrow anyway.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Research or politics
Or what?

The recent TV report on Percy Headley School in England raises enough discussion points to entertain a half-day seminar. One of these is what is the likely most productive path to achieving institutional change for Conductive Education.

REPORTER.  There has been no large-scale scientific research that proves 100% that Conductive Education is effective and that is why education authorities are reluctant to spend the £25,000 a year it takes... Future development for adults in particular here, could hinge on a masive new international research project led by Percy Hedley.

MIKE HORSELY.  Dear Mr Cameron, you have the potential and the power to do something about this. Looking at Conductive Education, looking at what the Hungarians do, would you get a move on because there's no tjime to lose, and it's too precious and too full of potental to lose. And what a fitting memorial for your son and mine.

It has always struck me as self-evident that public bodies in England and elswhere care not a jot for 'reseach' when it comes to prioritising resources (except of course in instances where they might cite it to support what they are doing anyway). Their decisions depend upon ideology, politics, micro-politics, and always of course the money to do things. This ha been the case since the year dot but in 2011 (and 2012, and 2012, and probably evermore) there is no argument on Earth that will swing public bodies to prioritise theru vanishing resources the way that seems to be suggested in the first of the above quotations.

It would be very interesting to hear more about this massive new international research project, not least because such a thing could affect the fortunes of a wide range of people (as 'CE research' has already well demonstrated, in spades). And remember do, that such effects might not necessarily be positive, as previous experience of 'CE research' has already more than amply demonstrated.

Mike Horsely has gone to the heart of the matter, as he does. This is a political problem and it requires a political response. Where a better opportunity than in a country with a Prime Minister who knows the problems of severely disabled children and their parents far better than most of those he governs – and that includes those paid to work in this sector? There was a time when such understanding political backing, from the very top, could have done wonders for the then existant CE movement in the UK. But now? I doubt that he could offer much more than moral support and encouragement in the years ahead of us.

Share your dreams

I do not wish to appear negative, on the contary, but in all reasonableness the 'research' route to CE's salvation was probably never a runner, and never will be. The personal-political strategy might just possibly lead somewhere, one day – but where? What is your vision of how a twenty-first liberal democracy might provide for its motor-disordered children and their families – and how might a future Conductive Education aim to fit into this?  And please, no social-policy pie in the sky like 'enough conductors for everyone who might benefit'.
There may of course be other visions for the future, and other strategies for how to achieve these.

Do let us hear them.

If we cannot change the world outside Conductive Education, its politics and its economics, then if change is what is wanted, then we should perhaps be looking to change Conductive Education itself and how its essences are delivered. In some respects there have been already been significant changes over the last twenty years or so, and some of this has been for the better  – so change is indeed possible, beneficial change at that.

So, where to go, how to get there? Do tell.

Inside out

This report on Percy Hedley School is the middle of three items in a thirty-minute local news programme called Inside out. It starts about twelve minutes in and runs for some eight minutes.

Friday, 25 February 2011

  1. The conductor
  2. The programme
  3. The task series
  4. Intention / Rhythmical Intention
  5. The group

I begin increasingly to to fear that these words will indeed prove immortal, and continue to drag down Conductive Education for as long as it survives in recognisable form.

I have never been an enthusiast for changing the name but perhaps this increasingly represents a strong reason for doing so. Perhaps one might begin to think of abandoning the term 'Conductive Education', leaving it to encompass that whole entangled mare's nest of dappy descriptions (such as these 'elements'), dodgy neuro-babble, implausible organisational structures, myth, misunderstanding and commodification.

These endure, presumably because it suits all kinds of different interests that they should. Empirically speaking, they continue to constitute a considerable proportion of what is said or written about Conductive Education. Mention Conductive Education (or its equivalent in many other languages) and some or all of this soon appears, to divert attention and confuse the issue. They thrive on the Internet.

Perhaps the time approaches to restate the whole endeavour. I admire Susie Mallett and those others who have taken up the banner of 'conductive upbringing' and 'conductive pedagogy'. Maybe that way lies salvation. Maybe there are other ways. I should like to write 'Doing nothing is not an option' – but I know better!

I drafted this quick note as a Comment to a recent posting:

I have elevated this response to a posting in its own right because I realise that my besetting irony might not have been recognised as such, and because I have watched fascinated as, by the very modest standards of Conductive Education on the Internet, this latest outing for these wretched words has gone viral. A contrary view merits greater prominence.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A day is a long time in Cyberspace

Two threads

Six days ago Conductive World referred to a new blog by a conductor, Izabella Vajda's Playing with Angels:

And only this morning I mentioned an apparently sophisticated medical search engine, PeRSSonalized Medicine, and its vulnerability to the quality of the information that it hoovers up:

It is not just research that it picks up, it picks up all sorts. Take a look for yourself:

Two threads come together

Online today:

Well done, Izabella.

But oh dear...

Doctors and all those others around the world can now read those immortal words –

There are five important elements to facilitate the process of Conductive Education:
  1. The conductor
  2. The programme
  3. The task series
  4. Intention / Rhythmical Intention
  5. The group

And now they come from out of the Pető Institute itself.

Ex Hungaria semper aliquod novum... I knew that 2011 would be an interesting year. But this interesting, this early...!

Rubbish in – rubbish out

It is amazing what the immense, rich field of modern, institutional medicine has at its disposal, and the ever more sophisticated new facilities that workers in this system create for their benefit. Here is one that has just found its way to me, 'PeRSSonalized Medicine'

PeRSSonalized Medicine is the simplest, free, customizable, multi-lingual aggregator of quality medical resources in social media.

Geddit? 'PeRSSonalized Medicine' is the word 'personalised' with the Internet abbreviation 'RSS' interpolated. It is one helluva tool for keeping you up to date in whatever field of medical research precisely interests you, individually.

I am sure (that is, I deeply hope) that there is 'real medicine' out there to which all this helps create real technical advance that will contribute to the betterment of poor suffering humanity, including – rue the day – perhaps even to mine.

'Conductive Education research'

The field of scholarly, academic, scientific enquiry into Conductive Eucation has been largely appropriated by the field of medical research – specifically by empirical outcome-evaluation. Perhaps the word 'aapprorpriate (i.e. stolen) sounds a little harsh. After all, the money and the demand for such work is there (coming sometimes even from the hands of conductivists themselves, who presumably believe that sponsoring 'more research' of this kind will make them accptible and loved). Unfortunately, so strong is the dominant preconception that anything to do with motor disorder is medical, that there had been very little demand, very little money for enquiry more appropriate to the paradigm. Whatever the social mechanisms involved, it is the case that research into Conductive Education does not as a whole belong to the CE paradigm – it has been carried off elsewhere..

And what do you get as result? Something unrecognisable:

Click on this URL. When you get there, click your way down the links and read the summaries of the articles. Taken in its entirety does this have to do with CE? What it is all about?

Here, without the live links, is what you will find there...

Recent items – Publications focusing on conductive education

Conductive education: a functional skills program for children with cerebral palsy. Phys Occup Ther Pediatr. 2007;27(1):45-62 Authors: Bourke-Taylor H, O'Shea R, Gaebler-Spira D Conductive education (CE) [...]

Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2007 Jul;27(7):503-5 Authors: Yan YF, Wei YY, Chen YH, Chen MM To observe the effect of acupuncture on rehabilitati [...]

[Effect of conductive education combined with Frenkel training on balance disability in children with cerebral palsy]. Zhongguo Dang Dai Er Ke Za Zhi. 2009 Mar;11(3):207-9 Authors: Yang L, Wu D, Tang JL, Jin L, L [...]

Conductive education for children with cerebral palsy: effects on hand motor functions relevant to activities of daily living. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2008 Feb;89(2):251-9 Authors: Blank R, von Kries R, Hesse S, v [...]

Neuroimpairments, activity performance, and participation in children with cerebral palsy mainstreamed in elementary schools. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2005 Dec;47(12):808-14 Authors: Schenker R, Coster WJ, Parush S [...]

Therapeutic interventions in cerebral palsy. Indian J Pediatr. 2005 Nov;72(11):979-83 Authors: Patel DR Various therapeutic interventions have been used in the management of children with cerebral palsy. [...]

Effectiveness and expectations of intensive training: a comparison between child and youth rehabilitation and conductive education. Disabil Rehabil. 2006 May 15;28(9):561-70 Authors: Odman PE, Oberg BE To [...]

Personal assistance, adaptations and participation in students with cerebral palsy mainstreamed in elementary schools. Disabil Rehabil. 2006 Sep 15;28(17):1061-9 Authors: Schenker R, Coster W, Parush S Th [...]

History of a special healing method for motor-disordered children: conductive education. Orvostort Kozl. 2007;53(3-4):69-96 Authors: Forrai J PMID: 19069038 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Occurrence of gross motor behaviors and attainment of motor objectives in children with cerebral palsy participating in conductive education. Physiother Theory Pract. 2010 Jan;26(1):22-39 Authors: Effgen SK, Chan [...]

[[Conductive education for children with neurological diseases]. Ideggyogy Sz. 2009 Jan 30;62(1-2):12-22 Authors: Balogh E, Kozma I Conductive education, developed by the 40-ies of the last century, spread [...]

Effectiveness of physiotherapy and conductive education interventions in children with cerebral palsy: a focused review. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2008 Jun;87(6):478-501 Authors: Anttila H, Suoranta J, Malmivaara A, [...]

Short-term effects on mobility, activities of daily living and health-related quality of life of a Conductive Education programme for adults with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and stroke. Clin Rehabil. 2008 Apr; [...]

Effectiveness of intensive training for children with cerebral palsy--a comparison between child and youth rehabilitation and conductive education. J Rehabil Med. 2005 Jul;37(4):263-70 Authors: Odman P, Oberg B […]

Unique features of the Conductive Education-Peto System for the rehabilitation of children with cerebral palsy. Ortop Traumatol Rehabil. 2001;3(4):531-4 Authors: Metera K, Buchajczyk B The most important […]

Lord, lov'em, for they know not what they doeth.

Monday, 21 February 2011

I am so unversed in modern ways

In this morning's post, an email from a stranger –

I'm wondering whether you'd consider accepting a guest post submission from me for your website CONDUCTIVE WORLD?
By way of background, I own  and am trying to expand the readership of my site. The idea of offering to write you a free guest article, is that by offering to write a free article for a more established website such as yours, I can get more readers aware of my blog's existence. The way it would work, would be that you'd provide me with a topic and specifications, and I'll write an article for your site which I'll email you.
Should you then choose to publish the article, what I'd ask is that below the article you acknowledge that I wrote it and link to my website. Then, assuming readers like the article, they'll click through and discover my site. In terms of benefit to you, you'd be getting a free article on any topic you'd wish, which, as a fellow blogger I'm well aware, having backup material to publish is really nice when you things get hectic and you don't feel like blogging.
If you’re interested in accepting a guest article from me for your site, let me know what topic you'd like it on, otherwise I'll just come up with one. I'd be targeting something in the 500 - 750 word
range for the article if that's acceptable to you. In any case, I’d appreciate you getting back to me to let me know whether you're interested.
Thanks for your time.
Paula Dierkins

In response, this afternoon –

Dear Ms Dierkins,
Thank you very much for your kind offer but I do not anticipate being short of material of my own.
Andrew Sutton.

Well, did I do wrong or did I do right?

If other CE-bloggers think that I did wrong, and would like to test out this offer for themselves, then find Paula Dierkins at:

Friday, 18 February 2011

Great statement

Rob Oliphant Don Valley West, ON
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today to commend March of Dimes Canada and recognize next Thursday, February 24, as March of Dimes Conductive Education Day.
March of Dimes, headquartered in Don Valley West, has been delivering programs and services to Canadians with disabilities since 1951. This is its 60th anniversary of working to improve the lives and livelihoods of Canadians with disabilities, advancing accessibility and creating a society inclusive of people with disabilities.
Conductive education is an innovative learning system that maximizes the independence and mobility of children and adults with neurological motor disorders like cerebral palsy, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and those who have had a stroke or brain injury. The conductive education program has the potential to make a life-changing impact on the mobility and independence of close to nine million people in North America.
I ask all members to please join me in congratulating March of Dimes Canada and recognizing and supporting the conductive education program, a cornerstone of our ongoing efforts in Canada to achieve full inclusion of Canadians with disabilities.

Great awareness

Great wording, that hits just the right buttons: '...inclusive... learning system... potential ... life-changing...' You can't get much more psycho-social than that.
Such members' statements are allowed just one miniute. Try to do better, it's a good exercise.
Congratulations, March of Dimes Canada
Congratulations and thanks,  Mr Oliphant.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

I sometimes have to smile *

On an interesting new English-languge CE blog, conductor Izabella Vajda writes, from the Pető Institute –

Prince William comes to “Angelville”?
After Lady Diana’s visit at “Angelville” in 1990 (see the picture below), the Management of the Pető Institute started the required diplomatic preparations of the invitation of Prince William and his fiancée, Kate Middleton.
The ducal couple indicated their purpose of visiting Hungary in the near future and that they also want to follow the footsteps of the Prince’s mother, Diana.
That would be fantastic if they could visit the Pető Institute, and obviously all conductors and the kids are eagerly waiting to see them in person.

Original Hungarian press story

A Pető Intézet meghívja a brit hercegi párt
Az új brit hercegi pár, Vilmos herceg és Kate Middleton, a leendő Katalin hercegnő a nem távoli jövőben látogatást tesz Magyarországon. Lapunk úgy értesült, hogy a Nemzetközi Pető Intézet, amelynek 1992-ben Vilmos herceg édesanyja, Diana hercegnő is a vendége volt, megkezdte a hercegi pár meghívásának diplomáciai előkészítését.
Nagy esélye van egy ilyen látogatás létrejöttének, mivel az ifjú pár sokszor jelezte, hogy az elhunyt Diana hercegnő nyomdokain kíván haladni.
Kérdésünkre, vajon reális elképzelés-e, hogy a hercegi párt Budapesten láthat­juk, Bokor Pál, a Vilmos és Kate, avagy őfelsége a szerelem című, most megjelent könyv szerzője (a könyvet Robin Polakowsky néven jegyzi) elmondta: „Teljesen reális… A mozgássérült gyermekek megsegítése  olyan feladat, amit ők szívesen vállalnak. Ráadá­sul a Pető Intézet egyetlen külföldi partnere Nagy-Britanniában, Birminghamben működik. Persze ilyenkor nem arról van szó, hogy jön a herceg vagy a felesége, és hozza a pénzt. A figyelemfelkeltés a lényeg. Az esküvőt legalább egymilliárd ember fogja látni televízión. És attól kezdve mindenre, amit a hercegi pár fontosnak tart, odafigyel az egész világ.”
Az esküvő Vilmos herceg és Kate esküvőjét április 29-én tartják a londoni Westminster apátságban.
(and verbatim in lots of other Hungarian outlets)

Kite flying?

Perish the thought... but it really is rather a good time for it.


*  Words by Lonnie Donnegan:

Statement on CE tomorrow
Fingers crossed!

Janet McMaster writes from March of Dimes Canada –

Thought you might be interested in this news from March of Dimes Canada. More information is on our web site and Facebook.
On Thursday, February 17, to recognize Conductive Education Day, MP Rob Oliphant, Don Valley West, will deliver a member’s statement calling on parliamentarians to become more aware of Conductive Education. The statement will be carried live on CPAC TV (at approximately 2 p.m EST) and entered into the Hansard.

Thank you, Janet, very interesting indeed.

Fingers crossed?

For what is to be said, of course. And how it is reported.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Tossed in domestic political currents

Shaky foundations

Almost a month ago now, Conductive World flagged up that the Pető Institute (which is controlled by a 'foundation' – an alapitvány under Hungarian law) is now caught up in a major Government review of the foundation sector in Hungary, brought about by a variety of supposed abuses, corruptions and inefficiencies, the whole matter perhaps not altogether unrelated to domestic political concerns.

For further details on this matter, with onward links to Hungarian and German sites, see:

Since then, as far as I am aware there have been no further public reports on this matter, in English, Hungarian or German (do please correct me if you know better). The original official Hungarian statement anticipated decisions about what will be happening to the 35 specified foundations, of which the Peto Foundation is one, by the end of April – only another six weeks away now.

A powerful cross-current

Perhaps with specific respect to the the Pető Foundation the nature of the decision will be affected by a further force in Hungarian economic, social and political life – the desperate desire to sell the country and its products on international markets. A newspaper interview about marketing Hungary sheds light on official thinking on what needs doing in general terms.

This interview first appeared the Hungarian AmCham's Voice and was reprinted yesterday in Xpatloop Budapest. Gergely Böszörményi Nagy, Deputy Head of the Department for Strategic Communication at the State Secretariat for Government Communications, a former marketing professional, was interviewd by Robin Marshal –

Branding should be as important for a country as it is for a product... Now Hungary is finally taking its own brand seriously [to] develop a single, unifying brand for Hungary, channel all government communications to reflect it...
...the idea around which all Hungarian branding communication will coalesce is... Potential.
We decided on separate focus areas: Creative Potential; Green Potential; Healing Potential; and Market Potential...” for the Healing Potential will target people interested in health tourism, for example.
The drive has come too late for the EU Presidency – a fully thought through strategy is expected to be in place by this fall, to take effect from the beginning of 2012. But that doesn’t mean the principals can’t be applied; targeted communication, building on Hungary’s heritage and potential, and emphasizing what Böszörményi Nagy calls “European Hungarian values.”

The relevance here is that the Pető Institute has already been publicly deemed a Hungaricum, a supposedly uniquely Hungarian product, a national treasure of considerable potential export value. The very term Hungaricum is a marketing concept. No doubt this will have been a matter for consideration in considering the future nature of the governance of the present Pető Institute and its Institute. Read the complete interview to form your own judgement on this, and what might be the possible implications if the Pető Institute goes forward into the future on this basis:


Whatever immediate decisions are made about the future of the Pető Foundation (and therefore the Pető Institute's future along with it) will markedly affect all those around the world who depend upon that Institute as the major (almost the monopolist) supplier of the world's conductor workforce. Political shenanigans in Hungary are of little or no practical interest to those who work in centres and centers around the world, or to families and other direct employers of conductors' labour. They are buying a scarce and expensive commodity and what they care about is supply – and quality.

They are purchasing a costly and sometimes contentious product, operating in personal and professional contexts where nobody gives a fig for whether they are buying something that is either 'world-famous' or Hungarian. They are the customer base of any future realisation of the supposed export potential of this particular brand, and they are probably the group whose interests will be considered last in coarrying the Hungaran government's review of this paricular foundation's future – the last but one, that is, the last of all most likely being children and adults with motor disorders around the world.

We live in interesting times. One might even find cause for renewed attention to that hoary old question:

Marshal, R. (2011) Interview with Gergely Böszörményi Nagy on country branding For Hungary,, 14 February

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Conductive Post

A blog of blogs

The Conductive Post, a centralised resource for accessing the CE blogosphere, has gone on line today:

The Post is a real-time, open-access update of what is published on CE blogs around the world – and more.

How does it work?

Completely automatically, just like the blog links that many sites already display. As new blog postings appear on The Post, the latest one will move up to take the lead position, and everyone else will shuffle back a place. You will see that each blog has its two most recent postings featured, one below the other.

There is an exception to this. For the moment at least, ‘guest postings’ will stand continuously at the lead position.

The Post reflects what comes on line. Already this is a pretty diverse range of positions and opinions. There is no party line, on any matter. If divergent opinions emerge, so well and good. Conductive Education is short of many things, and an important one of these is DEBATE. What will happen as further posts emerge? We shall see.

Is anyone missed out? Almost certainly. Please let us know.

There is a place for less frequent bloggers, and for newbies to get established.

Instructions for readers? There are none. The Post is as self-explanatory as it can be…


Many of those who try to find out about Conductive Education on the Internet may not find the CE blogs, for all their value and collective impact, Bringing CE blogs together in this way (cyber-conduction!) should make them more visible and increase their visitor-traffic, offering bewildered wanderers in the CE cyber-jungle the best presently available guide to current hot spots for public concern and discussion.

The Post is not republishing blogs. It is simply a search engine. The actual blogs are to be found on their own sites. Click across from The Post to read the complete blogs. If you have comments to make on what you find there, make these on the original blog postings.

And here is a bonus: use the Search box at the top of the page and it will look back into all the blogs listed here, for nearly a year.

Guest postings

From time to time The Post will publish guest postings from people who have something to say but no blogs of their own – yet – or who are perhaps not directly involved in the CE sector.

These guest posts will be archived on site and like the rest of The Post, open to the attention of search engines.

You may comment upon these guest postings if you wish, at the foot of the relevant page.

What do you think of The Conductive Post?

Any comments and suggestions about The Conductive Post:


The Conductive Post is published by Conduction:

Watch our for further initiatives.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Help bust those neuro-myths

In this month's issue of The Psychologist, Paul Howard-Jones writes –

The last decade has seen something of a step change in efforts to bring cognitive neuroscience and education together in dialogue. This may partly be due to anxieties over the ‘parallel world’ of pseudo-neuroscience found in many schools. Much of this is unscientific and educationally unhelpful, and there is clearly a need for some serious ‘myth-busting’.
There may, however, be a more positive reason why discussions are breaking out between neuroscience and education. Ideas are now emerging from authentic neuroscience with relevance for education.

Read on through his article to see what these might be, and to judge for yourself the present significance of authentic neuroscience for practical pedagogy and upbringing – never mind to 'education' in the fullest sense of the word, with their values and other formal dimensions over and above their empirical worlds of the social and psychological.

Even reducing these processes to the intramental level (as if one could) the leap between the neural and the mental is still so wide, and the urge and pressures to jump often so irresistable –

Conflating brain and mind... allows some educational practices to gain an apparently neuroscientific flavour. This can, somewhat deceptively, add to their attractiveness because explanations provide greater satisfaction when they include neuroscience

The game is not up, far from it. Dr Howard-Jones has his own suggestion for moving foward –

The dialogue between neuroscience and education is still in its infancy, but already it suggests the need for a new field of inquiry that is both scientifically and educationally grounded. Psychological understanding of learning will be crucial in linking neural processes to learning achieved in a classroom. Educational thinking also needs to be involved at every stage, from developing tractable and useful questions, to executing the research and communicating its findings. Innovation will be required in developing the methodology to embrace both natural and social science perspectives in this way. If it can rise to these challenges, neuroeducational research may enrich both education and the sciences of mind and brain.

What is yours? After all, all this surely applies to conductive processes too. Is it too much to hope that the neuro-buffs in CE might adopt such a properly cautious stance and strategy. There are surely other potential stances and strategies in response to the same problem, more in keeping with the conductive view of things. What might they be, and does CE as a whole have the mechanisms to consider the 'neuro' at the appropriate level in order to help bring them about them?


CE-bloggers Susie and Norman have taken up this matter, passim, for some time, and Vikki has done so on her most recent posting, Anne has not posted specifically on this yetbut has coomented on others. Is then CE blogosphere a barometer or what CE people (sers, conductors and others) in general feel, or are these bloggers' niews (five, including mine, untypical?

Do you have a stance on this matter? If not, and you cannot confront this demon individually, better perhaps to steer clear of the 'neuro' altogether. At the very least, you can contribute something to busting a myth by ignoring it –and above all, not passing it uncritically on.*


Howard-Jones, P. A. (2011) From brain scan to lesson plan, The Psychologist, vol.24. No 2, pp. 110-113

*   i.e. stick to your lasts, and avoid the awls.

Previous posting on brainmind

Thursday, 3 February 2011

From WA

Susie Mallett's latest posting reminds me of a very nice experience at the World Congress in Hong Kong, meeting the lovely ladies there from Western Australia:

Parents and conductors. Together.

It has also reminded me of the most recent issue of the on-line Newsletter of the Conductive Education Centre of Western Australia.

Go take a look. While the people from WA will be the first to agree that nothing is perfect, this is pretty good reporting, reporting pretty good stuff by the standards of CE in 2011:

Down there at the very end of the world it really does look like there is a 'conductive community' (not uniquely, of course, but a fairly rara avis nevertheless).

The Newsletter has been running since early 2009. All previous issues are open to view on line and readers' comments are invited: 'Speak your mind'.

The Newsletter is collecting good-news stories for its new, revamped website. It already has quite a bag:

It wants more:

And, if you can bear any more good news, it has a nice video of family stories too:

Time... and vision

In WA it has taken since the 1990s, including some false starts, to get where CECWA is today. It does not come easy and it does not come cheap and involves investing in the future in a way that is very rare in the world of CE  

Supporting WA's teacher-conductors to attend these international meetings of minds is an important part of CECWA's role to ensure that those planning, developing and leading the CE services here in WA for our children have access to high quality professional learning specific to their unique training and qualifications. Furthermore, it ensures our CE leaders are able to build collaborative support networks within the global CE community, crucial to their ongoing professional development and the development of the services available here in WA.

Eye-teeth and right arms, anyone?  Or sackcloth and ashes?

Brain ≠ mind

March of Dimes has done some remarkable things to advance the cause of Conductive Education, but it does sometimes say some strange things along the way. These might be construed as conveying all sorts of immediate and local advantages, but they may also do collateral damage to the cause of Conductive Education – so ultimately, presumably, to MOD's cause too.

A hum-dinger

Participants... skills and techniques... strategies... planning, problem solving and motivation... maximize mobility... increase independence...

A bit mechanistic, but harmless enough as far as it goes, though I does conclude with –

...the capacity to form new neural connections.


That, however, is as far as it does go. Where is the human element, the joy, the emotion.  And where is the family? What message is being conveyed here?

And here's the clincher –

Most approaches for people with neurological motor disorders work on the body and muscles to change the brain; Conductive Education works on the brain to change the body.

Great sloganising. but is it true? How on Earth does CE 'work on the brain?' Nobel prizes all round if you can demonstrate that one. And what about the first half of the sentence, is that any less surprising?

Ouch, in both respects.

Do you mind?

Brain does not equal mind. Is there anyone who really believes that it does? Is there any serious scientific, scholarly, academic, philosophical position that asserts otherwise.

What is so hard about expressing social and psychological phenomena in appropriate terms? Why 'form new neural connections' when you can simply learn?

Learning is intelligible. People can warm to it. It surely wins more friends that enemies. And there is relevant science.

Occam's razor is such a useful tool.

So, sorry, no Nobels being recommended here. But maybe one should be looking out for possible Ig Nobels.



It's the Year of the Rabbit

Happy New Year
And Good Luck!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Of Sorts

Gill Maguire's CONDUCTIVE EDUCATION INFORMATION has just published its monthly digest of news stories mentioning Conductive Education in public media around the world. Over January 2011 these all happened to be from English-language papers.

Granting the unseen and inevitable forces of selection, the ten stories that Gill links to make interesting reading.

Money, money, money
  • A centre in the UK, Rainbow, is applying for planning permission to build an extension to expand its activities. That is a good news story. More money will be needed, however, even for the next step, detailed design.
  • And a little boy receiving Conductive Education at the the Buddy Bear Centre is making progress, not perhaps news in itself but at least CE is in the public eye. The story pegs on the centre's need for money.
  • There are three local fundraising events/campaigns for centers in Canada and the United States Alberta, Manitoba and Illinois), and March of Dimes (Canada) has a big appeal going of which CE is a part.
  • University students are volunteering to help out in Florida.
  • And government funding is being chopped back in New Zealand.
And now for something completely different
  • Two families who have attended established CE centres in the UK are off to the United States for selective dorsal rhysotomy surgery.
  • And another is having stem cell therapy.
Such experiences also of course need money. Lots of it. And presumably this is easier to raise than money for Conductive Education.

What does all this it say about CE?

'All publicity is good publicity'. Look at the stories for yourselves and make up your own minds on this?