Thursday, 28 June 2012

REUVEN FEUERSTEIN, A CRITICAL FRIEND


CE needs more such

Reuven Feuerstein is a true friend of Conductive Education – and Conductive Education has few of these in the higher echelons of relevant academic disciplines.

Know your friends
Professor Reuven Feuerstein, clinical and developmental psychologist, and professor of education, father of the theory of cognitive modifiability and world-famous authority, has worked wonders for the treatment of children and adults with disabilities, received the Rothberg Jewish Education Award at a ceremony at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem on Sunday 10 June.
According to University President Prof. Menachem Ben-Sasson, the Rothberg Prize for Jewish Education was awarded to Professor Reuven Feuerstein, 'in recognition of his work over many years and his contribution and deep devotion to education worldwide.'
Professor Reuven Feuerstein was born in Romania in 1921. At the age of three he could read and at the age of eight he taught a dyslexic boy to read. In 1940 he began studying to be a teacher at a college in Bucharest, and at the same time taught in a school for children whose parents had been taken by the Nazis. In 1944 he escaped from Romania and when he arrived in Israel became a special-education teacher for pupils in youth villages for Holocaust-survivors. Then he went to Geneva where he studied clinical psychology, and at the same time served as director of psychological services for organization Youth Aliyah ('Youth Immigration') in Europe. A decade later, in 1955, he returned to Israel and established a research centre in Jerusalem that in 1992 became the Feuerstein Institute for Enhancement of Learning. In 1970 earned a doctorate in developmental psychology at the Sorbonne.
Professor Feuerstein has developed a theory that anyone can learn and change, independent of age, cultural background and developmental disabilities. This theory transforms the perception of the rehabilitation of people with disabilities. This curriculum has been implemented with diverse populations, from victims of terrorist acts to people in their golden years. This year the University has inaugurated a new curriculum for students of Ethiopian origin, in which the Feuerstein Institute has worked in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Integration.
The Samuel Rothberg Prize for Jewish Education is awarded each year, from a special fund established at the Hebrew University in 1975, marking Mr. Rotberg's 65th birthday.
http://www.datili.co.il/index.php?id=54930
 A true friend is a critical one

Reuven Feuerstein has written one of the academic Forewords to the forthcoming book András Pető, in which this is courteously apparent.

For more on this book, and to buy a copy of you wish, link to:

http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/3695419-andr-s-pet

Reuven's piece is called 'The matchmaker', and can be found at pages xix-xxii.

NEW BOOK

Fresh light on András Pető
And more to come...

Negyedszázad a kommunikáció bűvöletében
Edited by Dr Kálmán Zsófia
Published by Bliss Alapítvány, Budapest, 2012
ISBN: 978-963-08-3794-1

This book is of course in Hungarian. It is a collection celebrating 25 years of the Hungarian Bliss Foundation, and many Hungarian readers may find its contents interesting enough in its own right for that alone.

If you do not read Hungarian, please don't switch off at this point. Just skim down the page, ignoring the bits in blue, in order to help you keep up to date with what is going on in the world, and something of what else is coming in the world of Conductive Education.

The contents
Bevezető – Kálmán Zsófia
David Yoder: AAK: honnan jöttünk, hol vagyunk és merrefelé tartunk? Kiegészítés a magyarországi adatokkal:

David Yoder: AAK: honnan jöttünk, hol vagyunk és merrefelé tartunk? Kálmán Zsófia: Kiegészítés a magyarországi adatokkal: Kálmán Zsófia 
Shirley McNaughton: Felfelé az írástudás létráján 
Stephen von Tetzchner: A nyelvi fejlődés elősegítése augmentatív és alternatív kommunikációt használóknál: a „körülbástyázás” technikái
Sarah W. Blackstone, Harvey Pressman: A betegek és ellátóik közötti kommunikációs akadályok leküzdése egészségügyi intézményekben
Kálmán Zsófia: „Macera” vagy megváltás? – AAK a családban
Dévai Júlia: Egyszer volt, s ma is van: a sokarcú Pető – A konduktív nevelés kezdetei
András Pető

Hungarian-speakers at home and abroad (and not just conductors) should be fascinated by the contribution from Júlia Dévai, now nearly a hundred years old, in which she describes her experience of working closely with András Pető in the early years of his work in Budapest in the late forties and early fifties, when conductive pedagogy was in the process of emerging out of a very personal movement therapy.

The Editor introduces this in the following terms (p. 10) –
A kötet utolsó szerzőjét a többiekénél lényegesen szorosabb szálak fűzik a szerkesztőhöz: dr. Dévai Júlia ugyanis az édesanyja.Az írás az 1947–1952-ig terjedő, úttörő évek személyes krónikája a konduktív pedagógia születése körüli időkből. A közel százéves elbeszélő Pető András alapító munkatársai közül talán az utolsó élő szemtanú, aki a konduktív pedagógia megteremtésének kevéssé ismert, gyakorlati részleteit mutatja be, miközben annak megalkotójáról, Petőről is árnyalt kép rajzolódik ki. Ebben szinte egyforma súllyal jelenik meg az elfogultságoktól sem mentes, keménykezű főnök, a drámaíró polihisztor, a rászorulókat a nehéz időkben is nagyvonalúan támogató barát és az embereket az „Ügynek” gondolkodás nélkül alávető, elkötelezett iskolateremtő. Tekintettel arra, hogy a konduktív nevelést igénylő gyermekek igen nagy része, egyes becslések szerint 30-40%-a súlyos beszédzavarral, beszédhiánnyal küzd, e kötet szerkesztője számos alkalommal kísérelte meg – nem sok sikerrel – a két, sok rokonvonással rendelkező terület egymáshoz való közelítését. Remélhetőleg, e jubileumi kiadvány lehetőséget ad az AAK és a konduktív pedagógia között

hazánkban még mindig meglévő távolság csökkentésére.pedag
And again in her postscript (p. 102).

And for English-speakers...

Júlia's contribution to this Hungarian book is a shortened version of a piece recently written and annotated in English specifically for an international audience. It is fresh, concrete, crisp and vivid, telling the story from the viewpoint of someone who was part of it. It tells a tale far removed – in plausibility, content and style – from the thin, tired myth that has permitted strange suppositions about AP and the way in which conductive pedagogy came about.

The longer and more annotated English version is to be published in the forthcoming book András Pető, a collection of similarly revealing personal recollections. Also included are obituary articles and subsequent interpretative items, permitting readers to judge not just the man and his work but also something of the attempts to understand and explain him over the years since his death. There are also some of AP's own original writings, among these some of his highly personal and and emotionally raw verses. The originals of all these were written in German, Hungarian or English but all will appear here in English. At the end of the book, however, are appended facsimiles of some Hungarian texts, from the personal archive of Júlia Dévai.

References

Dévai, J. (in press) Personal memories from the days of the beginning of Conductive Education. In Maguire, G. and Sutton, A. (eds.), András Pető. Birmingham, Conductive Education Press, 11-36

Kálmán, Z. (ed.) (2012) Negyedszázad a kommunikáció bűvöletében, Budapest, Bliss Alapítvány, pp. 73-101

Watch out for availability

How to obtain copies of both these publications books will be announced as soon as possible both in Conductive World, and on its Facebook page:


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

PARADISE LOST

Am I too untrusting?

A lady writes to inform me that I have been awarded US$200,000 by Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, for whose charitable giving she acts as agent.

At long last, a wealthy patron, about the only way left, I suspect, of funding blue-skies development in and round Conductive Education. $200.000 is not a lot of money today in the wider scale of things but it is a fortune to me, and more than is presently available within the field of CE to fund the sorts of activities essential for safe continuation of the conductive message into the next generation.

I shall not be replying to her. I received a similar letter from her in May. Actually, both letters came to me as messages on Facebook. I did not reply to the first and, I shall not be replying to this one either.

Phishing for men

Rhonda Crisp's Facebook page tells me that she attended a respectable American university and has a husband. Nothing more of substance. She looks pleasant enough in the photograph provided.

See for yourself at:


She writes, in implausibly poor English –
PEOPLE CHARITY HOME LOTTERY AND

FACEBOOK PEOPLE REWARD.

(PCHL/213-8G)

PCHL - GAMING BOARD

REF NO: PCHL/16-FB-484293

BATCH NO: 13/583790/PCHL

WINNING FINAL NOTIFICATION!

CONGRATULATION!

We are happy to inform you that our program is back again this year, this promo is for people to fight off poverty and make them to live on their own .We are happy to inform you that your name appear on the facebook lottery promotion for the month and we are giving out the total sum of $200,000 USD ( Two hundred Thousand United States Dollars ) to our winners,which is the sum you have won.

Your name was selected by Mr Mark Zuckerberg the CEO of Facebook ( Founder & Chief Executive Officer ) The promotion was made to make all facebook user benefit from the gain the company made. Facebook is the first and ever largest means of meeting both old and new friend.

The promo was done to serve as a means of appreciation to visitors on our site and also to help people to fight off poverty and to maintain the standard of living. The emergence of the facebook was for the better use and constructive usage of information with global relationships. This effort makes the world goes around and makes you one of the beneficiaries of the people charity home lottery

You are advised to reply with your 

Full name:
Address:
E-mail: 
So as to proceed with the delivery of your money to you.

Kindly get back to us to claim your fund.

Thank you

CRISP RHONDA
The Company Agent
All she wants at this stage is my address and email. Oh well, maybe some other time.

Meanwhile, feel free to contact her yourself, on your own behalf. At best, you might end up trousering my £200,000. At worst, who knows where it might lead?


Monday, 25 June 2012

EARLY INTERVENTION IN ST PETERSBERG

An opportunity for CE

Rony Schenker has just forwarded me a copy of an invitation to next year's international shindig on early intervention, to be held in St Petersberg:


I was pleased to read here that A. J. Sameroff is still very much alive and kicking. Thirty-odd years ago he was a bit of a hero of mine, for demonstrating that a progressive position on human mental development can still flower even from within the dark shadows of Western psychology. Next year when he will give one of that international conference's two key-note addresses. Here is how the invitation letter announces him –
Arnold J. Sameroff, PhD, a developmental psychologist, is currently Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Michigan. His influential theoretical work on ecological transactional models of development has helped to move researchers to more dynamic, system-based research efforts for understanding healthy child development; and his research on environmental risk and promotive factors has fostered a more comprehensive understanding of what is necessary to improve the cognitive and social-emotional welfare of children.
Familiar, isn't it?

Those were the days

The conference is partly under the patronage of the Early Intervention Centre in St Petersberg. I was reminded of my own contacts with this lively and Western-oriented centre some ten years ago, involving reciprocal visits between Birmingham and St Petersberg. A quick internet search found one wing of this contact still on the public record, in Russian London (UK media coverage of Russian-related topics) –
Deputy Director of St Petersburg Early Intervention Institute on fact-finding visit to Birmingham's National Institute of Conductive Education

23 октября 2002, 12:57

22 October 2002 Deputy Director of St Petersburg Early Intervention Institute on fact-finding visit to Birmingham's National Institute of Conductive Education Natalya Baranova, Deputy Director of the Early Intervention Institute in St Petersburg has spent two weeks (14 - 26 October) at the internationally renowned National Institute of Conductive Education in Birmingham to learn about the pioneering work going on there with children with cerebral palsy and finding out how inclusion is working in the United Kingdom. 

Commenting on her visit, she says, 'I have found it very enlightening to observe the fantastic work going on at NICE to help children with cerebral palsy achieve inclusion. In Russia, there is still a view that children with severe disabilities are uneducable and it is hard for parents to find schools for them. One of our goals at the Institute is to work with parents and change attitudes to prevent such children being put into institutions. It is interesting to learn about an approach which does not see mainstream settings as the only answer for children with physical disabilities, but rather seeks to understand and meet the needs of each individual child.' 

Over the past year, the Foundation has played host to a range of agencies from afar afield as Canada, Norway, Australia and Germany keen to learn how to establish Conductive Education services and training courses of their own. Natalya Baranova's visit to Birmingham has included observations of Conductive Education in practice at NICE, visits to local schools and centres to see how inclusion is working on the ground, interviews with parents and observation of the Foundation's first-degree training course for conductors. 

The Foundation for Conductive Education advocates that society should go beyond the sterile debate between segregation and inclusion. Instead the Foundation proposes a model of dynamic inclusion across the life-span, that bridges the gap between health, education and social services, in which children may move from one experience or setting to another, according to their changing needs and circumstances at any given time. Particular emphasis is placed, within this model, on providing real and meaningful experiences at the time of transition into and out of school at 3-5 years and 16-19 years, with the aim of facilitating more effective social and educational inclusion.

'Natalya is the latest in a long line of professional visitors to the National Institute from the countries of the former Soviet Union,' says Andrew Sutton, Director of the Foundation for Conductive Education, 'a country with a most contradictory history of providing for children with disabilities. On one level, the theoretical, Soviet psychological and pedagogic sciences made huge advances, achieving paradigm leaps that we here in te West can still barely recognise. On another, practical provision for disabled children their families, they lagged a couple of generations behind.


'The New Russia possesses the enormous advantage of highly sophisticated and humane specialists like Natalya in the long and difficult social struggle to make up lost ground in providing decent services for the huge numbers in need. They know their own strengths, they want to learn from our experiences – and avoid our mistakes. It is a privilege to be asked to contribute to this.' ENDS

Pictures of Dr Natalya Baronova's visit to the National Institute of Conductive Education are available from Newsteam International Ltd on 0121 246 5511.

NOTES TO EDITORS
1.  Conductive Education teaches children with cerebral palsy how to overcome their disability and lead more active and independent lives.
2.  The Foundation for Conductive Education is an international charity dedicated to making Conductive Education more widely available.
3. The Early Intervention Institute in St Petersburg provides services to approximately 700 children and their parents each year. The Institute's approach is based on there being no such thing as an 'uneducable' child and believes in working closely with parents, seeing them as the 'experts' in the care of their children. As well as services the Institute also provides training to twenty satellite early intervention centres across St Petersburg. 

That winter I went to the Early Intervention Centre in St Petersburg and, had circumstances been different, it might have made for an excellent collaboration – but they were not and I do not know what subsequently happened there as far as CE goes...

25 YEARS OF BLISS IN BUDAPEST

Celebrations this week

This week sees celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Hungarian Bliss Foundation, including a day-long academic meeting:


There will also be something of particular importance for Hungarian-speakers in Conductive Education.


More news soon.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

NEW ASSOCIATION INCORPORATED IN ITALY

First information on line

The Horizon Autonomy Association aims to address the all-round development of children with cerebral palsy and other motor disorders, not forgetting the difficult role of their mothers and fathers, within a peaceful family atmosphere. Its website, despite theoretical diversions into some unnecessary 'brain talk', appears oriented to a broad upbringing approach and in professional terms the new service appears appears to be going for the real McCoy:
Il Conductor crede che la Conductive Education lavori esclusivamente come un sistema unificato, non composito o amalgamato ('The conductor believes that Conductive Education works exclusively as a unified system, not as one that is composite or amalgamated')
The new association is based in Camerano, near Ancona on the 'calf' of Italy.


Its motto, Non posso cambiare la direzione del vento, ma posso sistemare le vele in modo da poter raggiungere la mia destinazione is a translation of the well-known aphorism 'I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination', from sausage-maker and Country and Western singer, the late, great Jimmy Dean.

URL

FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH

Not a lot

The web analysis site calculates the value of Conductive World at the princely sum of US$346. That's just under £222. This seems to relate primarily to a nominal estimated income of a dollar a day, while the site's income is in fact zero, so it probably overestimates the site's value – by $346.

Hardly sitting on a goldmine!

Conductive Word's present world traffic ranking is at number 11,906,654. It has an average of 1,470 pages indexed in major search engines like Google™. An average of 32 links point back to www.conductive-world.info from other websites. 

This particular analysis comes from Widestat. If you would like see similar analyses for other websites, just type in the relevant URL at:

Saturday, 23 June 2012

FAUX SCIENCE

Conductive Education requires far better than that

Here is a newspaper story that I did not notice when it came out earlier this month. It is the sort of popular-science stuff confounding mind and brain, that comes as a great flood in the public media and flows copiously into the professional press too. Many people in Conductive Education appear to love it, and will probably like this article. The title and the the subsequent introductory paragraph tell it all –
How Barbara Arrowsmith-Young rebuilt her own brain

She realised that part of her brain was not functioning properly so she devised a series of cognitive exercises to develop it. The results changed her life – and now she has helped thousands of children with learning disabilities
You can read more at:


If you are interested in such matters, don't just read the article itself. Look down to readers' Comments, and you will find a revealing mention of Conductive Education.

These extensive readers' comments covered the expected themes. Here is one, anonymously posted under the name of 'xxzzy' (a gamers' name).
xxyzy13 June
So presumably there are some controlled trials showing the method works, and some peer-reviewed papers in serious journals describing the trials? With decently conducted statistical analyses showing that the results aren't chance, and controlling for confounders like class size, contact time, parental involvement and so on?


Otherwise you might come to the conclusion that this was a load of faux-sciencey "neuroscience" rambling in the manner of Brain Gym, The Dore Method, Conductive Education (whatever happened to that?) and the rest of the "don't bother about whether it works, just feel the bravery and passion of the promoters" schemes that prey on desperate parents.

For example: "Neuroplascity is a fascinating area and she's obviously making an important contribution to ongoing research. Good for her."

She doesn't appear to have published anything (Google Scholar, PubMed). She wrote an MA Thesis in 1982 which might be relevant (the abstract doesn't appear to be indexed) but otherwise: nothing. How is she "making an important contribution to ongoing research" if she's not publishing?
It is a pity that this Comment was posted anonymously. It would have been interesting to know what sort of person wrote it. Checking the author's previous form shows an occasionmal commenter but with no particular cross to bear:


The article comes from the Guardian newspaper, so it must suffice here to assume that the Comment was probably written by one of that newspaper's bien-pensant readership and is aimed at similarly educated, right-on people.

So is this what the semi-professional classes, the bleeding-heart liberals, the would-be progressives and other sterotypical Guradian-readers think of Conductive Education, and the company that it appears to keep: gone and cranky? I suspect that many of the professional groups amongst which CE struggles to establish itself read and respect the Guardian?

And how general is this view, not just among Guardian-readers?

'Faux science'

I like the term 'faux science'. 'Faux' means 'fake', like in 'faux fur', not really fraudulent but something rather warmer, cosy, comforting even.

'Faux science' seems a useful critical notion, deserving a place alongside the existing but rather harsher 'pseudo-science' and 'scientistic'.

Conductive Education and faux science

Beware reductionism and mechanism, old-style, static psychometrics, and naïve blues-skies neuroscience. They might look like 'science' from the outside, but there the similarity ends. Follow such lines and be ultimately be judged accordingly – as xxyxy judged Barbara Arrowsmith-Young and, in a perhaps justified sideswipe, Conductive Education too.

That is justified at least in terms of the sort of statements often made by CE's providers and proponents, by the sort of 'research' (actually most of this no more than evaluations) that Conductive Education has attracted, and by much of the discourse that goes for theoretical discussion about CE.

Barbara Arrowsmith-Young credits the name of A. R. Luriya. I can appreciated that. It was his work that brought me too to awareness of Conductive Education at much the same time, some thirty-odd years ago. I have no reason to doubt that Ms Arrowsmith-Young's work may have led to all sorts of educational benefits where there were none before, and of course the proper generalisation and further development of such achievement demands effective research and evaluation. A broadly based understanding of Luriya's neuropsychology, and part of his wider Vygotskian understanding of the nature of human mental development, the methodology of 'Romantic science', would be a good start.

All this of course applies equally to establishing to a proper 'conductive science' to back up conductive pedagogy and upbringing, as urged before in Conductive World.

References

Henley, H. (2112) How Barbara Arrowsmith-Young rebuilt her own brain, Guardan, 12 June

Sutton, A (2012) Romantic science: a suitable methodology for CE research, Conductive World, 26 February

Friday, 22 June 2012

'TRANSDISCIPLINARY CONDUCTIVE EDUCATION'

What is it? Learn on line

'Transdisciplinary Conductive Education' is practised at the PACE Centre in Aylesbury England, and is taught at Governors State College in Michigan.

What is it?

If you would like to learn more, TCE will be discussed in a 90-minute 'webinar' (web seminar) to be run twice over this coming July (carrying 1.5 continuing education hours) – 

This session will review intensive transdisciplinary motor learning training using the pedagogy of transdisciplinary Conductive Education (TCE). The CE philosophy looks at motor impairments from a learning perspective. TCE incorporates motor learning and motor control, intensity, practice time, and rhythmic initiation to improve orthofunction in individuals with motor disorders. We will review the pertinent theories and tenets of TCE and how to embed them into services for children with CP. We will also discuss recent research findings that support using TCE to improve functional skills.
Price to participate: $25.00.

Reference

O'Shea, R. (2012) Determining the impact of intensive transdisciplinary motor learning training on functional skills in children with cerebral palsy, LiteGait

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

GERMAN CONGRESS DOCUMENTATION

Extensive document now on line

The biennial German CE Congress, held this March in Rosenheim, pledged to publish full documentation of what was presented over the its two days. This has now duly appeared> The conference-organisers have done konduktive Förderung (German CE) proud, setting a standard that one can but hope other CE conference-organisers will seek to match.

The complete PDF document runs to 296 pages and includes an astonishing range of written and visual materials:


From the English-speaking world

The bulk of the documentation is in German but the organisers were keen that their programme should include a wider perspective. They therefore invited contributions from the Anglosphere. These were delivered in English but the overheads were shown in German translateion and that is how they are presented in this Documentation:

Rony Schenker, Israel, pp. 57-66
István Szücs, UK, pp. 67-75
Tünde Rózsahegyi, UK, pp. 76-81

Also from the UK, Erika Sisak joined István Szücs and Tünde Rózsahegyi in a round-table discussion, reported on pp. 146-148.
The full text of Andrew Sutton's presentation is given here in both English and German, on pp. 230-235 and 236-241

The conference, its speakers, its themes, its terms of reference, were German. The English-speaking world had better start getting used to this.

More to come

The main congress website continues under development. Soon it will include a photo gallery from the event itself and further materials within the theme "PETÖ UND INKLUSION":


Meanwhile, if you are interested in receiving a printed version of this documentation, please contact:


Previous report on this German Congress


Reference

(2012) Petö und Inklusion: Dokumentation zum Kongress, Rosenheim, 9-10 March

Monday, 11 June 2012

THE DEATH OF ANDRÁS PETŐ

On his birthday

András Pető was born in Szombathely on 11 September 1893. He died in Budapest on 11 September 1967. Ilona Székely has described how he died –
He had a worn, grey coat on the last day when we took him to the Institute: he was already past recovery then, but he wanted to go to the Institute. I went to his flat to give a report and then he said:
'Ring the garage caretaker to send me a car.'
The garage caretaker probably dropped the receiver in amazement: 'Comrade Pető is going out?'
Yes,' I said, 'he is going to the Institute.'
When we got in Pető's lips were already grey. He asked me to ring half the city, everybody who counted in the health authorities... So, when we got to the Institute he summoned together people in high positions. An exchange of views took place between them about how legally to protect those who recovered from their conditions, so that they would be still able to work.
The meeting went on from nine in the morning till the afternoon...
Suddenly Pető' shouted at the receptionist: 'Ildike, Marika!'. The receptionist had to work out from this that he wanted to see us, but he hadn't said so in so many words, just' 'Ildike, Marika!' I had to run to fetch Marika and then we went in. I stopped in the doorway and looked at him: he looked very unwell.
'Well, I have sorted that out' he said. Do not forget this. Mr Pesta [László Pesta, a high official in the Parliament] is going to intercede. He is an honest man, but he may not be able to keep his promise.'
Everything and everybody had to be checked, even himself, so that nothing would be left forgotten. He had reason to check everything but he was even stricter on himself. There were still two glassed of coffee on the tray. Pető knew that I adore coffee and he also knew that I smoked. Nobody was allowed to smoke except me. The two of us sat there and drank our coffees.
Suddenly he looked at me, stood up from his chair and came over to me, his skin had a strange colour and he said:
'Oh Ili, I'm going to die.'
He sank into the armchair, falling forward. I put his medicine under his tongue but in vain. It was too late.
Death and birthdays

This coincidence of dates of birth and of death may catch attention but according to a just-published study of population statistics this is not in fact statistically all that unusual, especially among older men. By implication one may also suspect that a history of heart problems may add to the risk.
From a study of more than two million people, researchers say the ‘birthday blues’ bring a rise in deaths from heart attacks, strokes, falls, suicides and even cancer. On average, people over the age of 60 were 14 per cent more likely to die on their birthdays. The findings – from a study over a 40-year period in Switzerland – back up the idea that ‘birthday stress’ has a major effect on our lifespan. Most of the rise was accounted for by heart attacks, which rose 18.6 per cent on birthdays and were significantly higher for men and women...
Dr Vladeta Ajdacic-Gross, a senior researcher in psychiatry at the University of Zurich, said: ‘Birthdays end lethally more frequently than might be expected.’ He added that elderly people may feel particularly exposed to stress on birthdays. The risk of birthday death rose as people got older. This is backed up by other data on hospital admission taken in Canada showing that strokes were more likely to occur on birthdays than other days, especially among patients with a history of high blood pressure...
It was previously thought that people would be more likely to die in the days after their birthday as the thought of reaching the milestone would help them cling on for longer. But the researchers said this theory was disproved by their findings, and they support the ‘anniversary reaction’ theory – also known as the birthday blues...

William Shakespeare is reported to have died on his 52nd birthday in 1616, of unknown causes
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2157127/Why-youre-14-likely-die-birthday.html#ixzz1xScQ2XjE
This newspaper report includes more fascinating information. Extracted above are data offering specific perspective on the death of Andras Peto.

The actual study, by sociologist Vladeta Ajdacic-Gross and colleagues of the Institute of Prevention in Zurich, is published in this month's issue of the journal Annals of Epidemiology.

References

– (2012) Birthdays are deadly. Why over-60s are 14% more likely to die on that day, Daily Mail, 10 June 
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2157127/Why-youre-14-likely-die-birthday.html#ixzz1xScQ2XjE


Ajdacic-Gross, V. (2012) Death has a preference for birthdays – an analysis of death time series, Annals of Epidemiology, vol. 22, no 7
http://www.annalsofepidemiology.org/article/S1047-2797(12)00110-X/abstract


Székely, I. (1999) Interview, in Forrai, J. (ed.) (1999) Memoirs of the beginnings of conductive pedagogy and András Pető, Budapest, Új Aranjhid, and Birmingham, Foundation for Conductive Education, pp. 93-96

Thursday, 7 June 2012

ALL TOGETHER NOW

Head, hands and heart


Head and hands want to join together but they don’t have the heart to do it… Oh, Mediator, show them the way to each other.
Head and hands need a mediator. The Mediator: between the head and the hands must be the heart.
Metropolis, 1927, directed by Fritz Lang; screenplay by Thea von Harbon

This year in Rosenheim

In March I spoke at the German national CE congress in Rosenheim, to the title 'András Pető: a man in his time' (Ein Mensch in seiner historischen Umfeld):

He had lived through difficult times, marked by the end of European empires, national liberations and despotic oppression, Fascism, Nazism and Anti-Semitism, including the Nazis in Austria and the Arrow Cross in Hungary. Then came the fears and terrors of Hungarian Stalinism (under Rakosi), followed by the uneasy compromises after '56. He survived.
The complete text of this presentation, in English and in German, will be included in the forthcoming conference proceedings. Watch out for an announcement on the conference website:


András Pető had lived in different countries, under different political regimes, within different Zeitgeists. As Conductive World has more than once cautioned, it is folly, given the lack of evidence, to assert 'Pető believed this' or 'Pető thought that'. One can at best be a little aware of the material and social circumstances in which he lived and something of the Zeitgeist in which he was immersed at given points.

Central Europe, 1927

The concerns and preoccupations of the time, such as industrialised warfare, dragooned populations, mechanistic understandings of humanity – especially,  perhaps most of all,  in Central Europe (and not unreasonably so). Most people had of course seen nothing yet and what was soon to come to whole populations would far exceed mild dystopic fantasies like Metropolis. Was András Pető personally concerned about such matters? Who knows, but in the twenties and thirties he was living in a world in which many people were indeed concerned about the threats to civilised society – with not a few others actively conspiring to realise their worst fears and nightmares.  Over  András Pető's years in Vienna, that city knew many people of both kinds.

The film Metropolis was released in 1927. I have no idea whether András Pető saw it, or even whether he even went to the cinema at all. But I am very aware that I have little real grasp of what people thought at the time, or how the world looked to them. Here is a masterpiece of the cinema that I can share in some part with the people of eighty-odd years ago. Even if András Pető did not even know of is existence, I can be sure that some of the people whom he knew would have known of it, and that some of the concerns and themes that it manifests were echoing around the society of which he was a part. This theme is particularly redolent –

Head and hands want to join together but they don’t have the heart to do it… Oh, Mediator, show them the way to each other.
Head and hands need a mediator. The Mediator: between the head and the hands must be the heart.

As an early trailer boldly proclaimed, the film was Visionär, Modern. Zeitlos (visionary, modern, timeless). In so far as analogous concerns prevail today, albeit differently focussed on new social forms (industrialised, dehumanised medicine and therapy, for example) then unmediated dislocation of head and hand still cries out for the same mediator.

To say this makes no claim that some of the ideas of the nineteen-twenties and those who held them were 'ahead of their time'. It simply points out that the more that things change, the more they are the same.

Earlier take on this topic

An earlier posting on appeared on Conductive World a couple of years ago:


No apologies here for returning to this theme: my understandings have advanced a little since then and anyway, the central message merits restating, again and again. and again.

Online videos of Metropolis

Technology and availability have marched on a step in the two years since that previous posting on Conductive World:

Metropolis (2011) | Trailer HD
The Complete Metropolis - Official Trailer [HD]

1927 Metropolis (restored) part 1/3
1927 Metropolis (restored) part 2/3
1927 Metropolis (restored) Part 3/3
Sorry about the modern adverts that introduce (and pay for) these.

References

Sutton, A. (2010) What is missing in modern medicine? Conductive World, 12 February

Sutton, A. (2012) National conference in Rosenheim: observations and first reflections, Conductive World, 20 March