Saturday, 29 September 2012


Call the conductor (she's not a therapist)

I rather admire the trade of midwife, at least as nowadays construed in the United Kingdom.

Ágnes Geréb

Since hearing of the deplorable treatment of Ágnes Geréb at the hands of the Hungarian medical-administrative complex, I have done what little I can to spread the news of how she is being martyred. I have posted about a couple of times on Conductive World:

Between times, I have added briefer update notices on Facebook too, the latest only two days ago:
GERÉB ÁGNESMidwife's saga drags on not returned to jailStill under house arrest'The freedom in a country can be measured by the freedom of birth'
Not a lot, but what else might one do?

Training conductors, the midwife way

Over 1996-7 Chas McGuigan and I were constructing a course to train conductors at the University of Wolverhampton. We faced a number of problems, including:
  • our course was to be autonomous, i.e. free of the control of the PAI, the first such – bringing both the burden and the liberation of having to design everything from scratch
  • it was to be a degree course, so not really 'conductor-training' (despite the common parlance) but conductor-education, bringing the necessity of incorporating validated practice into an academic structure
  • genuine professional autonomy and responsibility demand that students should start out on their subsequent careers by having passed-out transparently on every competence taught – they should not have progressed at any level without having mastered less than all the practical competences required.
But where to find a worthwhile model? Certainly not in British 'teacher-education'.

At the time my daughter was studying to be a midwife. I was most struck by how midwifery approached the same questions and – to cut a long one short – I photocopied much of her course's continuous assessment Chas and I altered some of the words to suit the conductor trade, and we produced the first prototype of what was tostructure much of our own course's practice countent under the name of their Conductive Log.

Having been thus involved in midwives' professionalism I stil feel a certain emotional connection with it when its growth is stunted as in Hungary, and am positively interested when Grand Principles are called into play, as in Denise Tiran's article published yesterday day in Positive Health Online:

Might more general parallels be drawn?

Summarising the recent history of British midwifery Denise Tiran quotes the official position that should reflect childbirth as a normal bio-psycho-social life event and that women should be offered 'choice, control and continuity...
It seems agreed, however, that continuing change is still needed –
Maternity care needs to change to reflect consumer demands, and there needs to be a concerted effort to facilitate a return to the normality of childbirth.The Maternity Matters report (DoH 2007) aimed to ensure that all women have the opportunity to choose where to give birth, and the Birthplace Cohort Study (NPEU 2012) favourably compared risk factors for women giving birth in midwife-led units or at home with those for birth in consultant-led obstetric units. There is also an urgent need to reduce obstetric interventions in order to minimize long-term morbidity and to rationalize expenditure at a time of limited resources. The High Impact Actions for Nursing and Midwifery (NHS Institute 2009) identified Promoting Normal Birth as a key issue for change; the Maternity Improvement programmes (NHS Institute 2011) acknowledge that interventions carry a greater risk of complications than non-interventionist care. Caesareans now account for over 30% of births in some areas (Birth Choice UK 2011), despite increased morbidity for mothers and few apparent benefits for babies, and cost almost double that of a normal birth (NHS Institute 2009).
This is not just a trend that is British. The ICM (the International Confederation of Midwives) is invoked to stress that birth is a normal physiological process, and midwifery practice is identified as being both
...a science and an art which is holistic in nature and grounded in an understanding of the social, emotional, cultural, spiritual, psychological and physical experiences of women, whilst being based on the best available evidence (ICM 2011).
'The ICM believes that midwives should be the primary providers of maternity services, empowering women to take responsibility for their own and their families’ health through individualized, continuous care which facilitates women’s informed decision-making. The ICM and World Health Organisation define a 'midwife' as 'a responsible, accountable professional who works in partnership with women to give the necessary support, care and advice during pregnancy, labour and the postpartum period, to conduct births on her/his own responsibility and to provide care for the newborn and infant. This care includes preventative measures, the promotion of normal birth, the detection of complications in mother and child, the accessing of medical care or other appropriate assistance and the carrying out of emergency measures. The midwife has an important task in health counselling and education, not only for the woman, but also within the family and the community. This work should include antenatal education and preparation for parenthood and may extend to women’s health, sexual or reproductive health and child care. (ICM 2011)
Conductors and midwives

I do detect a continual parallel between one possible future conductors' professionalism and the line traced by British midwives, and further substantive reason not to cleave to the model of therapy.

Alter some of the words in the above quotations from Denise Tiran's paper to suit your image of conductors and what they are involved with, and judge for yourself.


Sutton, A. (2012) Hungarian 'witch-hunt': advocate of home births jailed and suspended, Conductive World, 11 February 2012

Sutton, A. (2012) Intrusive medicalisation of childbirth: a continuing Hungarian tradition, Conductive World, 18 March, 2010

Tiran, D. (2012) The impact of 'Call the midwife' on the public’s view of midwifery, Positive Health Online, no 199

Friday, 28 September 2012


Blindingly obvious, really

The organisation: Children of Promise

Who we are

We are parents and friends of children with disabilities.  We have a desire to serve the needs of those children. Even though these children are like vulnerable saplings who need special care, we believe they can still grow into strong trees. Our hope is to gather together our collective wisdom and strength to help these saplings grow.
What we believe
  1. We believe in the value and meaning of life. We believe that people are created by God with a special purpose. We believe that ALL children are children of promise.
  2. We believe in the importance of family. We encourage active participation of the whole family. This brings happiness and support for the children.
  3. 3. We believe in power of unity. This united wisdom and strength can bring more help for the children.
What we hope to do
  1. Gather families who have children with disabilities together regularly to allow networking and mutual support.
  2. Unite families to combine resources and advocacy to improve quality and scope of services provided for these families.
  3. Set children free from an isolated life, allowing them to come together to play and interact with each other and society.
  4. Provide volunteers with opportunities to be involved with these children so that we can become one family loving and caring for one another.
Some of its activities
  • play group
  • parents' group
  • care centre
  • training workshop
  • home visit service
  • investigation and surveys
  • Icommunity care
  • stress-reduction
  • self-care
  • special-education issueslive-in facilities
  • T and use of online services
  • community participation
  • social security
  • barrier-free
  • employment
  • PR and advocacy
  • toy library
...and more. The sorts of things that many (most?) services concerned with disabled children, not just CE services, may tag on as afterthoughts, or leave out altogether.

Here these are not 'tagged-on', they are the organisation's primary activities. Refer back up to what the organisation is and what it is aiming for. How else should one rationally begin approaching the task of serving parents, other than by – a parental service?

By a service for the upbringers – an upbringing service.

Where is this possible?

In China (need one add 'of course'?), specifically in Jimei, Xiamen.

One may find out more through the organisation's extensive and continuously updated website:

This is a big one, reporting a wide range of activities, groups, workshops fund-railsng, publicity, volunteers...

This website is, by the way, published in excellent English, which is more... (no, stop!)

(There is also of course also a Chinese version.)


This upbringing appears not been been 'conductively' focussed. At least it seemed not to be linked explicitly to the various Western notions of 'Conductive Education'. Whether it is linked in a deeper sense (at least to such Western Conductive Educations as have a deeper sense of upbringing) is a different sort of question, the sort that I struggled towards, with no great success, at the Hong Kong Congress a couple of years ago:

Earlier this month Children of Promise announced –

After months of preparation and hard work, CP Sapling Care Center is now registered as Children of Promise Ltd. Conductive Education System will be used as a wholistic [sic] approach to train our children with disabilities. Now we are going through a trial period at Sheng Guang Lu center; our new web site is also under construction…

Let us hope that this proves more that tagged-on sessions of 'training', with their attendant wooden furniture and the ritual business that falls under the 'principles' rubric. Rather let us hope to see emering the basis of a genuine conductive fusion built upon culturally-relevant upbringing/child-rearing. If such 'conductive practice does energe, especially if retains the primacy of upbringing, over techniques that might be typifiesdas 'exercises', therapy', 'training' etc., then this may be a major breakthrough in the urgent hunt to create a Conductive Education fit for the twenty-first century, and not just for the developing nations.

All Hail!

To all those people who have brought this about in Jimei.

It is not to diminish theirn achievement, however, that I mention here that they also drew on the expertise and advice of two Westerners:
  • Christopher A. Zaino, from Texas
  • David Ng, from New York.
I do so to reiterate the already laboured point that Conductive Education might be progressing rather faster than it is if only it were to widen its professional reference group, even – or especially – within the counties where it presently finds itself.

But let me not be naïve. What has been developed in Jimei illustrates the incomparable advantage of being able to develop and plan with less hindrance from existing models of thinking, and less obstructionism from vested professional interests. All hail indeed to anyone who cracks that one!

Thursday, 27 September 2012


She has a book out too

I suspect that The Casual Vacancy is not my sort of read, but it takes all sorts. Contrariwise, I suspect that András Pető might not be to everyone's taste either...

The Casual Vacancy is on sale from today at all good book shops, and through every other conceivable outlet, with an attendant media feeding frenzy that could run till Christmas and beyond.

András Pető is available solely on line: 
As for public attention, András Pető is unlikely to ripple the surface of national or international awareness: breath-holding behaviour is not recommended.

Still, you never know. Stranger things have happened.

Good luck with the book, J. K.  Have a nice day. I have heard that a million copies have been sold already, prior to publication. I am not clear about the central message of your new book but no doubt you will come in for a lot of stick and whingeing for it, justified or no. So it goes. At least, however, you have an unrivalled opportunity to give your message a good run, whatever it is.

What a week for publishing!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


Latest addition to CEP's Bookstore


András Pető was a healer. In difficult and tumultuous circumstances in post-War Hungary, out of a personal practice of movement therapy with paralysed children and adults, he developed a pedagogic method from which modern-day 'Conductive Education' proudly traces its origins.
But who was he? What did he actually do? Indeed, what was his method?
Surprisingly little has been generally known about András Pető, even amongst his most ardent followers. In his life he cultivated an aura of mystery; in death he became a myth.

This book offers personal recollections from close associates and colleagues, some previously published, some specially written for this publication, along with a range of attempts to sum up and understand his life and work. Originals were written in German, Hungarian and English. Here they are presented in English.
Also here are detailed course-notes for his students, written at the pivotal time that his movement therapy was emerging as conductive movement pedagogy, plus a short collection of his poems that reveal so rawly some of his own mental anguish. Written in Hungarian and German respectively, these too are presented here in English translation, along with facsimiles of their originals.
This book should help disperse some of the myth around András Pető, so that its readers may begin to create their own critical appreciation of who he was and what he did. It is hoped that it will also help readers question and challenge what they already understand about András Pető and his work, and how this relates to present-day practices and the invocation of his name. 

This book is no final statement. The field of Pető Studies awaits further, extensive cultivation.
With Forewords by Judit Forrai, Jo Lebeer and Reuven Feuerstein

Publication date: September 24, 2012
Availability: immediate

288 pages
Price (£17.50, plus post and package)

This book's webpage (updated, November 2012)

Click on the book's picture to open the book and to read its preliminary pages. These include, contents, editorial matter, and forewords by Prof Judit Forrai, Semmelweis University, Prof Jo Lebeer, University of Antwerp, and Prof Reuven Feuerstein in Jerusalem.

Comments on this book will be most welcome. There is a place to make comments on this page if you wish.

CEP's complete list

This shows all books currently published by CEP:

Click on each book to view further details, to read preliminary pages, and to order copies if you wish. You may comment on these pages too.

Further titles are in preparation.


Maguire, G., Sutton, A. (eds.) András Pető. Birmingham, Conductive Education Press


CE 'difficult to access in the UK'

Member of Parliament for Kingston and Surbiton, Liberal-Democrat Ed Davey, is Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in the UK's Coalition Government. This morning's Daily Mail reports that for the last three years he has been taking his son John, now nearly five years of age, to the Pető Institute in Budapest.

John is reported to have an undefined developmental disability, and cannot walk or speak.

Mr Davy has already mentioned this briefly on his website:

This has not, however, been generally known within Conductive Education in the UK. One will doubtless hear more.

Monday, 24 September 2012


A step along the way in the UK

Some readers of yesterday's posting on Conductive World may have been puzzled by the UK Government's arrangement to grant what had been in its time a considerable financial donation towards getting work started to rebuild and extend Pető's Institute in Villányi út in Budapest:

Those who entered CE over, say, the last twenty years or so  in whatever capacity, as parents, conductors or whatever  may have little idea of the  sheer political power of the earlier national furore over CE in the UK. I suspect that this may mean the majority of those currently involved.

Here is a document to offer a glimpse of just one aspect of this complex and often confused story, illustrating an earlier government involvement that led to legislation to permit local authorities to help fund parents to take their disabled children abroad, and its then broad cross-party support...

Full debate in House of Commons, 23 October 1989

...and the opposing professional force, ultimately largely successful, to play down and oppose Conductive Education:

Guest Editorial to British Medical Journal, 4 November 1989

Things moved fast, and there was much more, then of course unforeseeable, yet to come...

Times change, obligations may stand

People and institutions move on. By 1997, when the treaty referred was finally signed, in 1997, Conductive Education had moved on, so had the UK, and so had the Pető Institute. Old obligations remained, however, even though popular interest in the UK for accessing CE had shifted from 'going to Budapest' to establishing and developing services at home, and even though home-based conductor-training was now set to commence later that year through the University of Wolverhampton.

A new phase in the internationalisation of Conductive Education was beginning, and would proceed largely without the involvement of the Pető Institute, and without need for a new building.

But that is another story, indeed a large number other stories, mostly untold and unrecorded...


1. This legislation in 1989, by the way, did not refer specifically to children with motor disorders, to Conductive Education or to the Institute in Budapest. This provision was potentially open to children with any kind of disability, going anywhere, for anything that could be shown to meet their special educational needs.

2.  I do not know whether any families outside of CE were able to avail themselves of this.

3.  Nor do I know whether this legal power still stands...


Survivals from another age

The Villányi út Institute in Budapest is not of course the building that Andras Peto successfully politicked for more than sixty years ago. That was demolished and a new building constructed in its very place. Here's how –

Treaty Series No 33 (1997)

 between the Government of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
and the Government of the Republic of Hungary
concerning the Extension

and Refurbishment of the

Pető Institute Building at

Villányi út 67
Budapest, 25 March 1997
The Agreement entered into force on 25 March 1991

Presented to Parliament

by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth and Foreign Affairs

by Command of Her Majesty

June 1997 

Cm 3668

You can read the complete treaty document archived on line at:

Conductive World has linked to this treaty before:

Both links given on that posting are now dead. But the content of one of these documents at least is now alive again on line – this treaty.

Resurrecting information

Documents published on line are very vulnerable. Some websites persist on for years, long after thier original purpose has been passed – witness for example the sites still directing people to now long-dead CE centres – but many of continuing potential interest are taken smartly off line by their owners as circumstances change. The online record of his treaty went that way.

A lot of people know this. Rather fewer are aware of the emergence of web-archiving services that offer searchable access to dead URLs. The American Wayback Machine has been already been mentioned on Conductive World, and used to bring some of CE's early online documents back from the dead. There is also now a British web archive too:

The UK Web Archive will offer future generations access to defunct UK websites that have research value or are representative of British social history and cultural heritage – in perpetuity, it hopes. I draws upon blogs, wikis, tweets, web-based community data bases, Facebook groups, YouTube and micro-blogging, that in 21C will be as much part of the nation's heritage as paper publications.

Go to the UK Web Archive's website and test it out by using its search facility. The UK has already accumulated quite a rich 'conductive history'. You might be surprised to find that there is a record of your own activities already preserved there ('in perpetuity'!)

It is also preserving this treaty on line.

A building reborn

The new building at no 67 still operates, built upon the foundations of the original – and built therefore to the same floor plan that AP himself originally specified. From this week, you will be able to read the reasoning behind his planning – and the structural problems that come from over-hasty Stakhanovite construction – in the book Andras Pető

Saturday, 22 September 2012


It is a basic commodity
Where is it in your budget priorities?
A posting last night on Norman Perrin's blog –
The abstract below is from Paediatrics and Child Health Volume 22, Issue 9 , Pages 384-387, September 2012.
Outcomes for people with cerebral palsy: life expectancy and quality of life. Allan Colver MA MD FRCPCH Donald Court Professor of Community Child Health, Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Sir James Spence Building, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, UK.
Cerebral palsy has tended to be regarded as a paediatric condition, whereas it clearly is a lifelong one. The over-emphasis on childhood has meant that the implications of therapeutic, environmental and family support have not been provided or evaluated in terms of their implications for adult life; nor has study of the natural history of cerebral palsy in adulthood received the attention it deserves; and nor have the outcomes of social participation and subjective wellbeing been properly considered in adulthood.
In this review, outcomes in adulthood of life expectancy, subjective wellbeing, participation, mental health, physical health including pain, and impact on family are presented. On all these domains, adults with cerebral palsy have poorer outcomes than in the general population. It is argued that this may be due in part to misplaced interventions in childhood.
Seems to me that the implication of the two underlined statements has profound consequences for how we should be thinking about conductive upbringing and living.
I'm wondering what you think.
Knowledge costs

I too wonder what people are thinking. I suspect that, in most cases, if they think about such matters at all, the thinking involved is unlikely to be informed thinking – and may even be misinformed thinking. If it is specifically people in Conductive Education whom you refer to here, I suspect that very few in any capacity, or their institutions, will be forking out for access to this article, if they even become aware of it in the first place.

Yes, the cost of buying into academic/professional publishing is high. Even though I am an amateur and unpaid publisher myself and appreciate the economics of life, I have long been a supporter for finding ways to rejig the whole system and moving towards free-to-view on-line journals.

One of the side-effects of having to pay for access to 'the journals' is to ghettoise this branch of academic publishing within an audience almost wholly comprising a small, funded and self-referential research community. This effect may or not be important in the natural sciences. In the social sciences (amongst which I include education and no small part of rehabilitation) this is surely a contributory factor in the uncontrolled publication of so much tosh – stuff that, if open to wider view, would be laughed and slow-handclapped off the public stage.This is not of course to say that all journal publication is tosh. 

The major problem of the present situation is to restrict access to knowledge, especially perhaps for those at the work-face. The problem is particularly pronounced in a small and generally impecunious field like Conductive Education, for the large part scattered across small or very small work units. Conductive Education, for all its 'professional' aspirations, has little or no access to what could prove vital technical information (maybe, as suggested in the summary of the article considered here, 'vital' in its literal sense). Without such access the workers' aspirations to be professional may ring rather hollow – similarly, their employing institutions' aspirations to be taken seriously as would-be recipients of public funds.

Twenty footling squid

Norman concluded –
Seems to me that the implication of the two underlined statements has profound consequences for how we should be thinking about conductive upbringing and living.
I'm wondering what you think.
In response to Norman's specific and too-gently expressed thought – just $31.50, twenty footling squid to read an article in full, to be better able to make informed consideration over 'evidence-based practice', and offer up-to-date, academically authenticated advice on whether you or the opposition are shortening people's lives, making them feel awful, isolating them, affecting their sanity, hurting them, spoiling families' very existence  – pull the other one!

If CE and the other professional services are not that concerned about such matters then what are they there for?

I state this deliberately in the vernacular not just to dejargonise and bring the reality home but to force the sort of everyday cost comparisons that are merited here, a round of drinks being a common measure, a quick top-up visit to the supermarket, a modest meal out for one, a very few gallons in the tank, a short train journey for two – never mind minor luxuries.

Knowledge is no luxury. It is what one pays for when purchasing professional services, and what justifies the professional and semi-professional classes' trousering their salaries.

Give'em the money, Norman

Yes, I realise that it is a gamble to pay up on spec on the basis of an abstract, but how else might the present system work? I understand too how it might gall to be punting your £20.00 or whatever for the benefit of the shareholders of mega-corp Elsevier, but what else of the weekly and annual budgets of yourself and Paces does not nowadays go to mega-corps?

Where does knowledge ofeature on those budgets?

And behind that question, where do reading, keeping up to date, developing, feature in personal and institutional priorities?

Nothing personal here. Certainly not. On the contrary, This line of questioning should apply in some degree to everyone involved in Conductive Education. At least you and Paces recognise the problem, general and specific. I suspect that this puts you in a bit of a minority.


Colver, A. (2012) Outcomes for people with cerebral palsy: life expectancy and quality of life, Paediatrics and Child Health, vol.22, no 9, September, pp. 384-387

Friday, 21 September 2012


Important collection in English

In 1999 Hungary enjoyed the status of main guest nation at the Frankfurt Book Fair, with what at the time was about the most sumptuous publishing website that I had yet seen.

This lavish and extensive website included announcement of one of Hungary's featured books at the Fair, Judit Forrai's collection of memories of András Pető.  The Book Fair's site gives the following summary  
    This book is a picture of a man who, in this ordinary world created something extraordinary. At the close of the twentieth century Conductive Education is emerging as a potent and dynamic new force for the benefit of children and adults with difficulties in controlling movement (motor disorders).

    So what is CE, where did it come from, what is its mainspring, its essence? Empirical investigation, theoretical enquiry and practical demonstration will play an essential role in elaborating such questions: Judit Forrai’s book takes us straight to the heart of the matter, to the life and work of András Peto himself and the creation of conductive pedagogy.

    This history suggests that the physician András Peto, used the 'movement therapy', combined with pedagogy, a healing that cut across hoary old dualisms of mind and body, emotion and intellect, teacher and learner, and health and education. At the core of investigation into András Peto’s life lies the irreplaceable personal record of men and women who knew him. Judit Forrai, a medical historian, then wove extracts from these reminiscences into the historical narrative and analysis that comprises the first half of this book. It is an insight into the unknown world of the physically disabled and a picture of the man, who disregarding conventionality, taught them to walk.

    The question must arise, how 'true' is the portrait of András Peto presented here? Readers will easily pick out some of the resulting inconsistencies for themselves. Was he indeed a 'polyhistor', was he really such a loss to German literature or was he a dabbler with a colossal ego, hero-worshipped by his young admirers? What did he feel about what he was doing and the life he led? Judit Forrai's investigation offers tantalising hints.

    So who was András Peto? He was an anomalous man whose heritage still proves productive in the very different world in which we live today. This book is about the world-famous András Pető, the founder of Conductive Education, who turned mere existence into life.
Present availability

Second-hand copies of Judit's book are today as rare as hen's teeth. A very few are available second hand at around thirty US dollars or so.

Lost, stolen,  or strayed

One reason for this shortage relates one of CE's little mysteries.

This book was published jointly by Judit's own publishing house, Új Aranyhíd in Budapest and the Foundation for Conductive Education in Birmingham. It was printed in Budapest and in due time a consignment of two hefty cardboard boxes arrived at the Foundation, containing the Foundation's share of copies to be sold. They were deposited in the then General Office, one of them was opened and the book went on sale.

Sales were slow but gradually that first box emptied and we needed to start the second. It could not be found. The building was searched, people were questioned, and it never came to light. We kept on receiving many requests for this book, that we could not provide for. Today copies of this important and fascinating historic collection are almost impossible to find.

Somebody, somewhere, presumably knows something.

New book

A new book on the life of András Pető will be available from next week

Reference and note

Forrai, J. (1999) Memoirs of the Beginnings of Conductive Pedagogy and András Pető, Budapest, Új Aranyhíd Kft / Birmingham, Foundation for Conductive Education

The website referred to above is no longer on line, but is available through the Wayback Machine's Web Archive. This is a big, fancy website and you may have to wait a little while for it to to be found in the Archive and to download. Give it time, be patient and if necessary reload. Internal links work and you can Judit's book easily (if you know where to look!):

You can hunt around in this enormous site in English, Deutsch and Magyar. Click on your preferredlanguage.

In English, first click on tab Contents, then...

Again, be patient!

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