Friday, 3 August 2012


The end of the beginning...
Or the beginning of the end?

We live in pivotal times, is all aspects of our lives and societies. Some of these get talked about, too much perhaps in some instances. Others certainly too little. All this of course applies to Conductive Education too.

Taking the long view

In December 2010 I contributed to the Seventh World Congress of Conductive Education, held that year in Hong Kong. The final event of the final day was a plenary session taking the form of 'round table', of which I was a member. It topic was 'CE in the 21st century'. Each participant had precisely five minutes to speak to this theme, and for alphabetical reasons, I came last,the final contribution to the Congress. This is what I said –

Conductive Education in the twenty-first century
Contribution to a Round Table

I get to have the final word. I like that.

In the year 1910 nobody could have predicted what would lie ahead of humanity in the twentieth century:
  • total war
  • end of empires
  • decolonisation
  • totalitarianism
  • genocides
  • emancipation of women
  • antibiotics
  • climate change
  • life expectancy
  • population explosion
  • computers
  • the Internet
  • the rise of Islam
  • plastics
List what was wholly unpredictable back in 1910 – everything that has happened since! That includes all of us in this room. It is not given to human beings to foretell the future.

In the year 2010, nobody can predict what will happen in the twenty-first century. Looking forward to the year 2099 one can still, however, make two assumptions:
  • all of us in his room will have gone, and
  • it is unlikely that we shall be much remembered.
Conductive Education as we know it now will also have gone, and maybe not be much remembered either.
Nobody is immortal. Similarly, ideas and institutions do not live for ever. But people and ideas can have effects, good or bad, that live on after their time and combine with others to produce vigorous offspring.

How to ensure this indirect kind of personal immortality of your own? Who knows? But generally speaking, such things do not happen by themselves: one has to do something. Doing nothing will in general grant us no personal legacy of worth

Similarly, if Conductive Education is here to leave a legacy for future generations, this will not just happen spontaneously, of its own accord. Certain things will have to be done. Here are some some suggestions:
  • associate and interact with others who also know that the essence of our humanity depends not upon our biology but upon active participation, and upon pedagogy and upbringing – and proclaim our work accordingly in these terms, for all the world to hear
  • work actively to help change the world's view of motor disorders from mere physical disabilities to developmental disorders – right across the life span
  • step outside motor disorders, outside disability, and identify with the universal, fundamental principle of human transformability
  • realign strategically – change Conductive Education's primary reference group, away from 'rehabilitation' and 'therapy', to connect, blend, articulate and communicate, with fellow 'transformers' in fields outside motor disorder
  • take a lead, do not expect the world to owe Conductive Education a living, it doesn't
  • reignite the cause, that is the popular moral crusade, amongst the media, decision-makers and above all amongst individuals and families potentially able to benefit from transformative practice
  • demonstrate and proclaim the core message of human transformability
Different people might make different action lists

Whatever you aim for – act, organise to affect the future

The task for the twenty-first century is not to save Conductive Education as it presently stands – in a fast-changing world a task doomed to failure – but to contribute to a broader, more general end that, if attained, may in turn open new ways to benefit people with motor disorders and their families.

Time flies

Over eighteen months have passed since that Congress. How the world continues to change! The economic crisis in the developed world has not blown away, indeed things are worse, exemplified dramatically in the Euro's and even the EU's struggle for their very existence. The world still turns on its axis, but nobody surely any longer believes that it will not be wobbling very seriously for the knowable future. Increasingly, once comfortable individuals and institutions, whole counties even, know the meaning of the word 'austerity' – and the world is beginning to learn something of the incompetence, greed and corruption that brought us to this pretty pass.

So how are things shifting in Conductive Education?
We are already now more than half way to the 8th World CE Congress.
  • How immune have we been to what has been happening in the world of which we are a part.
  • How much are CE centres, services and other institutions facing contraction?
  • Are they restructuring what they do in order to survive, and are the ensuing changes for the ultimate good – or for the worse?
  • How are long-established plans faring, and what are there in the way of new initiatives?
  • What are people doing to ensure that the conductive message is better understood and appreciated?
  • And what evidence is there of what people 'out there' understand of CE any better, or whether they have even heard of it?
  • How might the socio-political situation in Hungary bear upon international Conductive Education?
Those who follow events in and around international Conductive Education through postings on Conductive World and, appearing more frequently, on its Facebook page (I know of no other way to follow CE, but do please correct me if I am wrong) they will know:
  • There have been some concrete achievements over the last year and a half, of which those who contributed can feel justifiably proud and – and some disappointments too.
  • The net balance of these, plus or minus, and the direction in which CE may in future be moving – it is certainly too early to call.
Granting the wider economic situation, (say a suden and shocking turn for the worse)may be still too early to confirm any trend when the next Congress convenes next year, if trend by then yet there be. And anyway, these Congresses are not structured to reflect the practical situation of international Conductive Education, never mind influence it. They serve as best as waymarks.

In the long term

It remains as impossible to judge the long-term prospects of Conductive Education now in 2012, sitting in my Middle England kitchen as it was two years ago in 2010, standing in a congress hall in Hong Kong.

There seems no burning reason as yet, however, to change the general tenor of what I suggested needs doing.

Buy the book

In default of published proceedings from the Seventh World CE Congress I decided to publish my own, comprising the four presentations of different kinds that I made at that event, bound together as a small book. The short round-table presentation reproduced above serves as its concluding chapter. The other chapters are of course rather longer!

This little book, Last Year in Hong Kong, is published by Conductive Education Press. You can purchase a copy through CEP's website, where you can preview all CEP's books and buy copies of your own if you would like to from the Press's website:

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