Thursday, 1 March 2012


Each with their own contradictions

The previous posting here has provoked a critical Comment from Sue Reilly, who had sent me a copy of the article that prompted it–

Hi Andrew,

I think you are being a little harsh on CE in suggesting there are any substantive parallels between its practitioners and the overwheening arrogance of the medical profession over many, many decades in its negative, pessimistic, indeed some would say nihilistic attitude towards people with severe brain damage and brain injuries - basically just writing them off. An attitude which surely helps explain much of the medical profession's historical hostility to optimistic, positive approaches such as CE – surely?

My reason for sending you this article is that I reckon all those of us who believe in the capacity of individuals to learn, and to develop,should celebrate any sign that there are medical professionals out there willing to concede that medical dogma - dogma such as the belief, for instance, that severe brain damage automatically prevents individuals from learning or developing - can be, and often is, a VERY dangerous and destructive thing.
Sue xxx

Sorry, Sue, I suspect that I may have not expressed myself too well, and so clouded my intention.


At the level of objective social practice I acknowledge the contradictory nature of all professional groups ('There's good and bad in all sorts). As far as the medical profession is concerned, this includes a hefty contribution to the sad biologisation of so much human personal and social activity. Perhaps this is inevitable. I suppose that this could be chuckled off as just pain daft. Read any history of medicine for examples galore, amusing enough now perhaps but truly awful at the time for victims> Things were possible 'then' because society, also contradictory, has apparently been so eager to host such notions and welcomed medicine into pivotal decision-making roles. As it is now.

At the same time we are all endebted to the ranks of the medical profession for incalculable contributions to progressive causes and understandings, to which the history of special education over a couple of centuries testifies. It is hard to conceive how special education would have developed had things been left just to the educators, without the leading roles played by so many physicians-turned-educators in its fundamental development. I need look no further for examples of this than Drs Pető and Hári.


And at the same level I have to admit that conductors, whatever their manifest virtues, are not without their contradictory contributions within the subsequent development of Conductive Education. Quite a lot of people around the world know that.###

Managing knowledge

What I really wished to emphasised, however, in writing what I did, was at the level of knowledge management, the problems of which – for any profession – do appear to extend to conductors, in spades. Their virtues in terms or personal practice and philosophical understandings do not deny real prblems at this level, real enough even to constitute a threat in the long-term to their being able to maintain, defend and develop well-being of these most considerable virtues.

It is this dimension that I wish to emphasise. That belief 'in the capacity of individuals to learn, and to develop' is such a precious treasure .

This belief is a powerful force – but beliefs can be so fragile.

'Knowledge-management', 'belief-management', whatever. The words sound so dry. What they represent, as generation succeeds generation, with little conscious attention to keeping the fire alive, may prove critical.


Sutton, A. (2012) A doctors' dilemma: a dilemma for others too – conductors for example, Conductive World, 27 February

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