Tuesday, 31 January 2012


Need for formal impact assessment

Writing on Facebook the other day (25 January) I realised that I had been drawn into discussing a question that had not  occurred to me before: how to assess the impact of Conductive Education.

I was pleased that this had happened. I realised that I have not previously seen explicit, public mention of Conductive Education's 'impact assessment' (though this is not to say that informal, implicit and/or behind-doors assessments are not being made). Further, I realised immediately that I had stepped tight out of my depth.

Wot no impact assessments for CE?

Were I working in the 'real worlds' of commerce, public administration, the military etc. – even academe – then I would have to know about such a things and. Where Conductive Education is in regular real-world contact, achieving an explict impact assessment is surely a matter of continuing concern for those running CE systems for provision, training and anything else. This would be certainly the case if looking for funding from Her Majesty's Government and the European Union and, I suspect from all a sorts of other bodies too, public and charitable, around the world.

A quick look on Google for “impact assessment” has found me over ten million hits. Search for “impact assessment” AND “conductive education” and some five-hundred break surface. I do not have time to read through all these but a quick skim suggests that the two topics are ships that have passed in the night without actually connecting. Maybe I missed it but I saw no actual, completed impact assessment for CE mentioned there.

Please, please, please correct me if I missed some.

I could be so wrong,and maybe Conductive Education's impact has been well assessed – and, if it is not, then perhaps plans are already well afoot for formal investigations aimed to produce the sort of 'evidence' so important to justify funding and survival in today's managed world.


Meanwhile, for my own satisfaction, how might one measure CE's impact? I doubt that the criteria that occur to myself would have much general appeal in the world of resource-management but here, in no proposed order of importance, are a few personal ones from off the top of the head.
  • How prevalent is successful conversion of 'CE' experiences (pedagogy, upbringing; programs, schooling) into sustained conductive lifestyles (I am endebted to conductor Susie Mallett for emphasising this dimension)?
  • How much are the goals and methods of Conductive Education appreciated (both senses) by workers in special education, rehab etc. – or even known?
  • Ditto for families and disabled people – and their organisations?
  • Ditto for the media, decision-makers, politicians, and the popular consciousness as a whole?
  • How extensive is awareness and enthusiasm for CE amongst potential users ('is there a demonstrable demand')?
  • How far do the founding and maintenance of centres/programs depend upon closely involved individuals, their immediate associates and families (rather that upon corporate and/or understandings and goals)?
  • What is its institutional permanence (I have always been struck by how short a life-span David Dvorak's survey found for so many US centers – is this changing over the years)?
  • What is the long-term satisfaction of all the hope, expense and effort (what after-taste does CE leave in the mouth)?
  • What are the effects of CE upon take-up/demand for other services, parental 'shopping around' for alternative programs...?
All the above should be quantifiable by means of concrete indices and no doubt others could be suggested.


It is so easy to proclain that 'Conductive Education' has been set up in this country or that, by this organisation or the other, and interesting to read the continuing stories of individual solutions to the problem of providing or accessing conductive services. And nothing is more gratifying that to learn of the success and gratification that might be the fruit of all the effort involved.

But for all this how far  has Conductive Education put down roots, deeply and strongly enough to withstand the test of time — and especially the test of hard times?

I think that this is the question of impact-assessment raised by other means.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


German pioneer's 'long overdue' recognition

I am ashamed to say that I have only just found this year-old German report 
Wer behindert wen?
Karin Weber mit dem Honorary Conductor Award geehrt
Den leitenden Fragestellungen wer eigentlich wen behindert, wer wem hilft bzw. vor allem wie geholfen wird und mit welchen Vor- und Nachteilen, damit setzt sich Professorin Dr. Karin Weber (Fakultät II) seit drei Jahrzehnten wissenschaftlich auseinander. Dabei ging und geht es ihr immer um strukturelle, institutionelle und inhaltliche Fragen, vor allem aber um Qualität und Effektivität der Förderung und Rehabilitation von Menschen mit Behinderungen. Im Rahmen des 7th World Congress on Conductive Education in Hongkong wurde Karin Weber im Dezember 2010 mit dem Honorary Conductor Award für ihr langjähriges wissenschaftliches Wirken auf diesem Gebiet international gewürdigt.
Das komplexe und integrative System Konduktiver (zusammenführender) Förderung (engl. „Conductive Education”) für Menschen mit zerebralen Beeinträchtigungen, hervorgerufen z.B. durch Sauerstoffmangel bei der Geburt, durch neurodegenerative Erkrankungen wie Multiple Sklerose, Parkinson Syndrom, nach Apoplex oder Schädel-HirnTraumata nach Unfällen, unterscheidet sich von dem bei uns üblichen additiven Förder- und Rehabilitationssystem. D.h. während bei uns üblicherweise therapeutische, bildende und fördernde sowie pflegerische Bereiche voneinander getrennt Einfluss auf Betroffene nehmen, sind im Rahmen konduktiver Förderung diese Bereiche zusammengeführt und werden nicht von unterschiedlichen Fachleuten betreut oder behandelt sondern von einer Bezugsperson, die in allen drei Bereichen qualifiziert ist. 
Als Karin Weber vor 25 Jahren auf dieses außergewöhnliche Fördersystem stieß, wurde ihre wissenschaftliche Neugier nicht nur geweckt, sondern geradezu aufgerüttelt. Mit einem breit angelegten Pilotprojekt wurde ein klinischer Modellversuch ab 1990 vom Bundesminister für Arbeit und Sozialordnung in Auftrag gegeben. Es folgten ab Mitte der 90er Jahre weitere Forschungsprojekte in Köln sowie in München. Große wissenschaftliche Verdienste sind vor allem die theoretische Begründung und Reformierung des Mitte der 40er Jahre in Ungarn entstandenen komplexen Fördersystems, die von ihr herausgegebene siebenbändige Buchreihe zum Thema, zahlreiche Publikationen und Vorträge, die Mitbegründung der Europäischen Assoziation, die Evaluation eines EU-ComeniusProjektes mit dem Ziel einen europäischen BA-Studiengang zu begründen. Daneben rief sie den Verein für Konduktive Förderung ins Leben, der später zur Gründung des Instituts ScoRe (Siegener complexe Rehabilitation), führte. Die von ihr und ihren Mitarbeitern begründete Theorie der Konduktiven Förderung, ihre Publikationen, Vorträge und ihr fachlicher Rat werden weltweit anerkannt und geschätzt.
Dafür erhielt sie auf Vorschlag der Internationalen Petö Association (IPA) vom Conductors College Budapest – wie in der Laudatio hervorgehoben „längst überfällig“– im Rahmen der Eröffnungsfeiern für den 7th World Congress on Conductive Education in Hongkong im Dezember den Honorary Conductor Award für ihr langjähriges wissenschaftliches Wirken.
What further undiscovered reports of this event remain tucked away out there in Cyberspace?


– (2011) Querschnitt: Zeitung der Universität Siegen, nr.1, p.10

Friday, 20 January 2012


The triumph of Newspeak

Two items from yesterday's public discourse around 'special educational needs' in England.

From Full Fact, a body aiming to 'promote accuracy in public debate' –
...two thirds of juveniles found guilty of offences during the riots [in August] were classified as SEN, which is some way above the national rate of 21 per cent.

From a Press Release by the Department of Education –
...multi-disciplinary support to the Special Educational Needs Green Paper Pathfinder Programme...which aims to improve the lives of some of the most deserving members of society...

So what percentage of' 'rioters' are some of the most deserving in society, or what percentage of the most deserving might riot?

And where in any of this is hint of recognition that words and expressions that have no material meaning are no basis for statistical analysis ('Rubbish in, rubbish out') and for policies to structure social provisions?

Thursday, 19 January 2012


Is such bespoke fraud really legal?
What a sad trade

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Best possible advice

Don't even think of it!

Not for the first time of mentioning...


And if you missed the allusion to presidents

How can one expect vulnerable groups, like politicians, presidents and foreign ministers, to behave honourably when even ordinary citizens are openly circulated offers like the one here?


CE may have to be down to parents
Which probably means mothers in most cases

As part of a short discussion thread on Facebook yesterday, Nonye Nweke writes from Nigeria –

You know, what a conductor is asking for a week is more than the annual minimum wage in my country. I am finding it hard to convince sponsors to invest such money on "this type" of children... as they call our special children. Is there hope for our children here to benefit from CE? I just wonder.

By one of those happy coincidences, the self-same day Patti Herbst writes from Chicago, to inform of the following day event for mothers of disabled children:

I think immediately of course of Ákos Károly and Magda Ákos and their long-forgotten grand plan to spread Conductive Education across Germany, with very few conductors and a lot of mothers. Their slogan? A quotation from Goethe's Faust:

Doch gibt’s ein Mittel… Die Mütter sind es!
(There is a way… the mothers!)

Their little book, also apparently long forgotten in both its English and German editions, demonstrates how this might be achieved at the level of the family, in a way that is likely generalisable to a variety of contexts in similar societies – and possibly in many others too.

The answer to Nyomi's question is that the benefits of Conductive Education will never be equably available through the direct agency of conductors working with groups and individuals to all who might benefit around the world. That is a servicethat that only the already privileged will ever be able to afford.

In other words, an effective global future for András Pető's heritage might lie less with conductors, or even conductive pedagogy, and more with upbringing. I struggled, not terribly successfully with this question in Hong Kong a year or so ago:

Useful progress, however, will come only from practice.

Monday, 16 January 2012


Irritating interruption of dialogue

Google Alerts has sent out a worldwide notification, as it does, that a new reader's Comment has been published on Conductive World.

Unfortunately, this Comment does not show on Conductive World itself! It beats me what has gone wrong and I can find no way to fix it.

So here is Google's Alert anyway –
Steven has left a new comment on your post "ADULT LITERATURE": 

Dr. Sutton,
I apologize if my initial comments elicited a negative response from you, I didn't mean to have any sort of negative connotation to the post (at least, that's what I'm gathering from the word "curmudgeonly").
Apologies if I was in error regarding the paediatricians visit, and not researchers. It is a shame that the PAI did what it did to appear as a solution to motor disability, I still wonder how things would change if the BMJ article from years past was more positive...
But the more I think about it, as you suggested, if that visit really was just a drop in the pond, then things may just remain the same.
Regarding to the "hard evidence" I was talking about, here's the link of the article I had read. 
It's not as "hard" as I remembered it, but I think this is definitely a potential step in the right direction for research in CE (or at least CE's future). Neuroplasticity, I believe, has become increasingly accepted in the scientific community, and the more research done on it, in relation to diseases CE works with, the better.
About the cards comment: I remember Mel saying that, when Michael J. Fox revealed he had Parkinson's, the disease became huge. Celebrities do have power over the public, after all. While the fervor surrounding Parkinson's has slowed down (which things do with the public eye, of course), PD has become ingrained in the public mind. 
My statements forthwith will undoubtedly be read as crude, I know they are. I don't like it myself, but...
If CE had its own "celebrity" of some sort, then I think CE could also become ingrained with the public consciousness as PT and OT are for rehabilitation (I know we're not quite rehab, but what other example can I use?). I do not wish anyone to have to suffer any sort of debilitating disease of any kind, much less take on the public stage as a patron of CE, but this sort of action might be what is needed. Word of mouth can be strong and has been of huge benefit, but I think CE must pursue all avenues to grow.
Posted by Steven to CONDUCTIVE WORLD at Sunday, 15 January 2012 15:29:00 GMT
I shall also add this to its relevant place in the thread following of the original posting:


I can but hope that there are not others. Please let me know if there are.

Apologies to Steven for the delay in posting his thoughtful response, and to anyone else inconvenienced. I shall respond to this one as soon as I can.

And please don't call me 'Dr.' I get curmudgeonly about that too!

Sunday, 15 January 2012


Where best to post them?

When CONDUCTIVE WORLD JOBS and CONDUCTIVE WORLD MARKET were first set up on Facebook the idea was that they should serve distinct functions:
CONDUCTIVE WORLD JOBS has been created in response to the growing demand for a Conductive Education jobs service. Advertisement on this site is FREE
CONDUCTIVE WORLD MARKET has been created to facilitate the exchange of services and products, between individuals and institutions, gratis or for payment, within the world of Conductive Education
In other words, the first was established to advertise people (not just conductors, other people work in CE too), the second to advertise goods or products.

In the event there have been relatively few adverts for products most of the jobs advertised have been for conductors. Further, both sites have served as public spaces where visitors can meet their friends and comment on what they see displayed there. I know too that quite a few visitors just lurk quietly, watching what is going on and seeing who is up to what, with whom and where...

Increasingly, advertisers have been advertising jobs for conductors in the Market instead of, or as well as, in the Job Centre.

Let it be

Ah well, it is a casbah out there and, if that's what the punters want, that's what they shall have. For the moment both resources will remain open in their present form, separate but overlapping in how they are used, and we shall see what evolves. Given what has happened so far it seems fruitless to think of creating a   facility for classified ads!

After a slow period towards the end of 2011 there is now the annual New Year's burst of activity in the jobs market that enables the world of Conductive Education in its present form. Along the way this shows something of the wide range of settings in which conductors work. 

And very soon the new intake of fresh, newly trained conductors will be coming on line to join the throng.

To advertise for what you would like, or what you have to offer, visit either or both of the following:

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


Don't hold your breath...

The British Medical Journal has published an Editorial attacking the pharmaceutical and science community for the long-existing habit of only selectively publishing the results of clinical trials. Its Editor-in-Chief Fiona Godlee was on the radio this morning, along with neuro-scientist Colin Blakemore, complaining that a false picture is being put forward by medical science, and other forms of science, by restricting publication to 'successful' and 'interesting' studies (1).

Of course, they had to admit, researchers are not likely to press for publication of studies that show no effect, and journal-editors do not want to publish stuff that is boring.

It could just be that a solution is at last in sight to this long-standing and pervasive problem, as data storage is become ever-easier – and cheaper. So all findings could soon be potentially stashed away, to be examined, re-combined, re-analysed by others, now or in the future, permitting a potentially more complete and rounded understanding of reality than possible with the current cherry-picking of results for public presentation.

And Conductive Education?

All the above is just another outing for one of those hoary old mega-problems within the scientific endeavor, like fraud, that is taken out now and again, dusted off, tutted over, then shoved back discretely under the carpet, while scientists get on with the pressing practicalities of their lives (like finding where further fundable research might be needed). Given the nature of most research around Conductive Education, comparative-outcome evaluations research, and its general finding, then the problem as stated this morning hardly applies! So we are alright, then?

No, despite its almost total lack of formal methods of investigation and communication, the world is Conduction is every bit as bad. I personally am happy to stand up to be counted as supporting – indeed advocating – wider and wider informal communication of what CE is experienced as doing and achieving (2). But the same qualification has to apply: whatever the short-term personal and/or institutional advantages to those who do this, in the longer term Conductive Education surely suffers from being recorded and disseminated wholly in terms of good-news stories.

I do not need telling that everything that happens in the name of Conductive Education (and in the names of conductive pedagogy and conductive upbringing too) might not result all the time and everywhere in hoped-for outcomes. Some interventions will be wholly for the good. Some may be, well, neutral in what they achieve, and some may prove downright harmful.

If we do not record and report and discuss the whole range of outcomes, then (a) we are dishonest and (b) we severely limit – perhaps altogether curtail – our ability to come to judgments, hypotheses etc about what might be going wrong, and how better to do things in the future.

What interesting proposals for conferences and congress, what fascinating press reports: 'Emotion distress and financial hardship associated with attendance at CE summer school', 'Lack of persisting benefits following 'interval Conductive Education', 'Local mother thinks benefits of CE over-hyped and overpriced', 'School staff find training course unconvincing', 'Major practical problems of incorporating basic conductive concepts into a 'multidisciplinary team', 'Conductive Education: if it wasn't so sad it would be funny'...

What lively discussions and perhaps even some heart-searching might ensue. Maybe even some action and progress.

Towards an adult literature

Would that CE were mature enough to generate a truly adult literature. On can see immediate pressures against this, including reluctance to attract unpleasantness both from within and without the movement, and particularly ways that any such 'bad news' might be seen as impacting upon income, personal and institutional.

So I expect that things in Conductive Education will continue much as the same. After all, in the big, ugly world of medical-science research the bold hopes for information reform through publication of boring or even negative trial-outcomes have yet to get round Big Pharma, until when they will largely remain at the level of pipe dreams.


(1)   Broadcast available on line for a few days:

(2)   Most recently: A. Sutton, Researching Conductive Education, past, present and future, in Last Year in Hong Kong,  Birmingham Conductive Education Press, December 2011, pp. 7-
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