Friday, 30 November 2012


Remember him how you will

Roman Catholics, I am told, celebrate the 'name day' of the saint whose name one bears, with greater feeling than the anniversary of one's birth. Today is St Andrew's Day, to be marked appropriately for those called Andrew – or one of its many its local equivalenta (such as Andor, or Andreas, or András). What such matters meant to András Pető himself, who was a non-observant Jew, I have no idea.
Today is Andrásnap in Hungary – Andrew's Day – and as happens annually nowadays is being celebrated by the Institute that bears the name of András Pető by a day of presentations on and around Conductive Education.

The programme for today's (and tomorrow's) events at the Pető Institute is reported in yesterday's posting on Conductive World:

Thursday, 29 November 2012


'Exploring science – the miracle within'
30 November and 1 December

Starting tomorrow: a two-day intellectual feast for staff and students at the Pető Institute:


First, plenary sessions

Day 1 kicks off with a good helping of plenary sessions, mostly external speakers:
  • Natural pedagogy in infants – Prof. György Gergely, Department of Cognitive Science, Central European University
  • Ischaemic stroke: successes and challenges – Prof. László Chiba, Department of Neurology, University of Debrecen
  • What was new in neurorehabilitation at the Seventh Neurorehabilitation World Congress, in Melbourne – Miklós Fehér, International András Pető Nonprofit Ltd and Zsófia Nádasi, MPANNI
  • Perspectives on evidence-based conductive pedagogy, György Polyvás, MPANNI
  • European Conductive Association, European Partnerships, European activities – Bettina Tautscher Fak, KFI, ECA
  • Information on the 8th Conductive Education World Congress – Beate Höss Zenker, Phoenix, Munich
Interesting for Kremlin-watchers is a rare mention of the International András Pető Nonprofit Ltd (Nemzetközi Pető András Közhasznú Nonprofit Kft.)

Then, parallel sessions
There follow three streams of parallel sessions (translation provided)

A. Inclusion and integration
  • Individual assistance in the classroom – Angelika Speck-Hamdan, Ludwig-Maximilans University, Munich
  • Didactic and methodological ideas: further development of conductive upbringing, education, in relation to inclusive education and dysfunction – Prof. Karin Weber, University of Siegen
  • Integration efforts: past and present efforts of the Peto Institute kindergarten -Julia Horvath Dezsõné and Ildikó Mikla Huszárné, MPANNI
  • Reverse integration in the conductive upbringing system for elementary school children – Marianna Mühl Vajdáné, MPANNI
B. Competences required by conductors and managers in the international arena
  • Approaching the conductive method through comparative management. Case Study: privatization of medical services – Prof. Rolf Rickmeyer, MBA
  • The interpretation of disability and the human body in Islamic Arab countries – Emese Berzsenyi, religious historian
  • The conductor's job description: knowledge-brokering, external action, professional identity – Krisztina Desits, German Conductors' Association and, Mariann Oberszt Stelczerné, Phoenix, Munich
C. Special education and conductive upbringing: common application
  • Inclusion – a challenge for special education and for conductive upbringing – Prof. Dieter Lotz, Director, Evangelische Fachhochschule, Nurember
  • Integrated approach of conductive education – Monika Gruber, MPANNI
  • Dysfunction and GMP – Esther Szuhaj, MPANNI
What a lot of professors, German ones at that. Mostly in town anyway for planning meeting of 8th World Congress.


Day 2 is a wholly domestic meeting, provided by staff and students at Pető Institute. Results and awards for student research competition. Again, parallel sessions

A. Peto Institute student research in the TDT competition. Results and awards. Includes one eternal presentation:
  • Workshop: research, in the service of practice – Daniel Fabó, National Institute of Neuroscience 
Plus six presentations by fourth-year students:
  • A vers fejlesztő hatásának vizsgálata sajátos nevelési igényű óvodás korúak körében. A vers hatása a fonológiai tudatosságra – Zsuzsa Czirják (fourth year)
  • Integrált testnevelés-összehasonlító elemzése – Krisztina Kántor (fourth year)
  • Terápiás hatás fogalmának vizsgálata vizuális alkotótevékenységhez kapcsolódóan – Andrea Sonn (fourth year)
  • Szabadidős integrációs programok lelki hatásai – Viktória Tormássy (finished this year)
  • Az élménysport szerepe a habilitációs, rehabilitációs folyamatban mozgássérültek körében – Vanda Wölfel (finished this year)
  • Alvászavarok cerebrál paretikus gyermekeknél – Lilla Zeke, Renáta Tófalvi (fourth year)
Abstracts for all six of these presentations are published here:

Very good show, that, a model for others.
B. Discovering science in everyday conductive pedagogy

Short presentations by conductors:
Specifics of conductors' working abroad
Tromsø, Norway – Eszter Darócz
Malmö, Sweden – Kinga Szabó, Dóra Kádár
London, United Kingdom – Gabriella Czifra
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Zsófia Nádasi

Innovations in the practice of conductive upbringing
The beneficial effect of Wii – Zsuzsanna Szilárd Sáringerné
Chess group in kindergarten course – Csilla Tombor
Traditions in the kindergarten – Papik Erzsébet
Life skills program in international course – Krisztina Perge
Innovations in the practice of conductive upbringing
Inclusive upbringing at Butterfly kindergarten, Budapest – Alexandra Major-Bácskai Presentation of the Pfaffenrot manual technique and its possible applications in conductive pedagogy – Timea Bősenbacher
RehabEsésTan (Dobrotka method) – Beáta Popol
Some fascinating titles, not least for people outside Hungary. Would that one might hope that some at least could be published for wider interst and benefit.

Programme organised by Zsófia Nádasi and Renáta Földesi


I can only help so far:
  • MMPANI is the Pető Institute.
  • KFI has me beat
  • ECA European Conductive Association
  • GMP also has me beat
  • TDT is the Nationwide Student Acasemic Council
Outsider's view
The two day look a most meaty and varied intellectual feast, one that no other institution within the world of Conductive Education could hoste. A report from a similar event last year went on line in English. It sounded a most jolly and enjoyable affair:

It would be nice to hope for a report from somebody on this year's. We live in hope. (This is a shortened verion of an old, English adage. The complete expression is 'We live in hope, and die in despair'.)

I did my best with the translation. Apologies where I have got it wrong. Corrections or improvements would be most welcome. I live in hope here too...

Read the complete programme of the 2012 event (Hungarian only) at:

A complaint

It is a shame that this event was not publicised for the benefit of those who could have gone. Such a common story in CE. Nobody knows about anything. Hardly surprising, if nobody tells. Yes, there was a brief notice a couple of weeks ago on the PAI's website, in Hungarian of course, but there are quite a few Hungarian-speakers who might like to have gone, but the complete programme did not appear on line till earlier this week. Poor show.

Perhaps some of the presentations will be published. Hope springs eternal.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


Try to learn from previous experience

Ralph Strzałkowski grew up in Poland, with cerebral palsy. As a child he was a pupil at the Pető Institute in Budapest. As an adult he emigrated to the United States. He is now an attorney in Florida. Nobody, in English anyway, has so far writeen about a CE childhood like he does on his regular, twice-weekly blog Lawyer on Wheels.

Here are a few lines extracted from this morning's posting –

One thing I was always aware of was how much my parents had to go through to send me to Hungary... I was fully aware how much my parents have put into this to make me better, an odd realization to have when you are seven, eight, nine or ten...

Progress was the operative word with all the methods we have tried... On my first day at the Institute my dad called me (he was in town staying at a local worker's hotel while I spent the night at the Institute).

'Have you made any progress?' he asked.

And I remember how I replied: 'Dad, I've only been here a day!'

I remember it vividly. It was the Fall, September if I remember correctly of 1986. It's not that he demanded progress or that he was mad or disappointed if it didn't happen. But there was a lot of hope that this, [that] this will finally workm that translated into urgency that this needs to happen.

And seeing how everybody is excited for this 'progress"'to take place it was putting all this extra pressure on me. Because what if it doesn't? If I'm not advancing fast enough maybe I'm doing something wrong? It's a huge weight when someone has so much invested in you.

And I don't mean just the money although, let me tell you, knowing forint exchange rate at the age of seven is probably an odd thing by today's standard – but time and tears and prayers...

I never rebelled against anything that happened at the Pető Institute because to my family this was more than education. It was the solution to all our problems, it was the central point of helping me get better...
Looking back, I have to say, I wish my parents had known a bit more about my disability and the Pető method to find a way to help me navigate my own emotions. Maybe take some off the stress off. It would definitely give me less to work through as I'm going through adulthood.
Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest

There are gaping holes is out understanding of Conductive Education, be we parents, carers, conductors, enthusiasts:
  • one is the emotional dynamics within and between the individuals involved in this provided, be they children, adults, family or workers
  • another (overlapping and interacting with the one above, as others do too) is how the whole business works out in the long term because whatever is done or not done will have longitudinal effects, not always just those intended.
Search for these in the 'literature' of Conductive Education. You will find very little. That is an academic problem. But in the world of reality, of practice, of everyday human living, wonder whether points raised in Ralph's personal recollections and reflections extracted here ought to be far more to the forefront when deciding and acting to maximise CE's potential benefits – while doing one's utmost to minimise unintended and potentially deleterious results.


Strzałkowski, R. (2012) Progress, Lawyer of Wheels, 26 November

Saturday, 24 November 2012


Focus starts to emerge
Could do with sharpening over the coming week

The title of the 8th World Conductive Education Congress, Rhythm and balance, may have seemed somewhat enigmatic. The underlying Big Idea is expressed on the Congress's home page:
Recently published is the 'Programme Focus on Rhythm and Balance' that may or may not help clarify and concretise the minds of those considering offering abstracts for possible presentations etc to the Congress – or simply just attending –

Programme Focus on Rhythm and Balance

Research and evaluation
  • Neurophysiologic aspects of rhythm, balance and equilibrium
  • Current scientific findings
  • Measurement tools, life quality satisfaction
  • Study design
  • Methods of CE and new therapy methods
  • Free papers
Early education, children and young people
  • Daily life
  • Teaching
  • Inclusion
  • Puberty and sexuality
  • Free papers
Adulthood and transition from school age into adulthood
  • Rehabilitation
  • Vocational education
  • Working and life style
  • Inclusion, sports and leisure time
  • Sexuality
  • Free papers
Professional education and politics
  • Competencies and working fields
  • Trans-cultural adaptations
  • Recognition and financial aspects
  • Free papers
Abstracts can be submitted as oral, poster, workshop or film. For all main topics free papers are also accepted.
The above 'Focus' does not appear to be signposted from the elsewhere in the Congress website (at least, if I is then I did not find it) . It is available at:
Note that 'free papers' are invited, under the above four categories, but that this term is not as yet defined.

Submission process is now under way
The Congress website indicates that the process of registration and abstract-submission is open from the end of this month, and that all abstracts must be submitted by 30 April net year, so perhaps interested parties can anticipate a sharper focus to help guide their thinking on what they might offer before the start of December.
It has to be remembered that many of those who might consider submitting something will not be experienced conference-goers, needing every help and encouragement to persuade them to go ahead and act – with any extra uncertainty avoided at every step on the way.

Friday, 23 November 2012


Some others do too

A respected correspondent writes, with a very interesting question –

Where can I find a list of all conductive services established by parents?

I wish that I could offer a simple, definite and unqualified answer.

Basic criteria
  1. There are no world 'lists' of conductive services other than those published by Gill Maguire on line on Conductive Education Information and occasionally updated (most other lists on line appear to have been copied from hers).*

  2. The construct 'conductive services' is increasingly a better category than 'CE centres'

  3. A major problem is that 'centres', 'services', whatever, almost never submit information on themselves, or even respond to her enquiries. They really are their own worst enemies.

  4. Then there are the criterial problems.

  5. What for example would one count as 'Conductive Education' and what, for example, is just a short-term experience of it (possibly of even negative long-term benefit)?

  6. When I inaugurated that listing, some time in the nineties, it was already very apparent that everything that went under the name of 'Conductive Education' is not necessarily so. At the time, the main criterial problem was from people offering what they sincerely (but erroneously) believed to be the 'principles of Conductive Education' (Esther Cotton's). With modifications and variations in terminology these persist till this day and continue to cause confusion. Gill has maintained this criterion.

  7. Note that we have not therefore attempted to list Conductive Education as such but only 'centres employing conductors'. Please note too that this does not stipulate 'centres only employing conductors' – so 'multidisciplinary' centres have been also included.

  8. .In either case, it has always been apparent that employing a conductor does not necessarily ensure providing Conductive Education, Not a lot of people want to confront this potential istinction. It could be, granting criteria that the number of places where conductors work is quite a lot larger that the numbers successfully providing Conductive Education. Caveat emptor#

  9. Granting such qualifications, and others, it is hardly surprising that there are no differential data available within all this.

  10. The only exception is the country in which centres are based. Gill's lists are classified by this criterion.

  11. This a pity, because a differential analysis of where, when, by whom, what kind of service, why it is there, how it is constituted (charity etc) could prove practical and constructive.

  12. All that I can say, having watched the sector evolve, one cannot really say develop) is that most CE serviceshave been and continue to be created by parents or occasionally by grandparents.

  13. I could be wrong in this but I can recall only one centre's having been created by disabled adults and/or their carers.

  14. There is a small but growing tendency (especially perhaps in the US) for conductors to establish personal. 'consultancies'.

  15. In Germany, quite a few conductors are employed by clinics (this could be readily quantified via the Internet) and are therefore funded ultimately by the health insurance system.

  16. In the UK there a a few single conductors employed within state schools. How these are funded and what kinds of professional status they enjoy is not clear.

  17. Perhaps for completeness one should mention the families that employ conductors 'privately', an unknowable dark matter within the universe world of Conductive Education.
A very qualified response!

To answer the question briefly:
  • there is no list of conductive services founded by parents (and one would be ver difficult, impossible even, to compile)

  • it has probably been the default case that most 'CE centres' inaugurated around the world are established by parents

  • this tendency continues but there is perhaps a little more variation now, and the situation may vary slightly in different countries.
As ever, more research is needed!

Updating world lists of where conductors work

All the lists can be found in the right-hand column of this site. Just click on the one you want.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Through fresh eyes

Bob Dent is a long-term British resident in Budapest. He is also a journalist, and has written a particular line in books about Budapest that intertwine the topographical with the historical. Since the late eighties he has also enjoyed a particular personal view into the Pető Institute.

This week's issue of the English-language newspaper, the Budapest Times, carries Bob Dent's one-page review article of the recently published book András Pető:

His review commences with a brief story-so-far of development of foreign interest in the Pető Institute (particularly the crucial British interest that kicked of the whole international CE phenomenon).

Incidentally, it seems worth remarking that this is a sounder account than one can often read in the 'CE literature' (though I would question the widely repeated myth that there is an 'institute' in Japan).

The review continues with a brief critical look at what is presently knowable about András Pető and his life. Again, critical questioning is not a common explicit feature of what one may read on this from within Conductive Education itself. And of course he asks the inevitable risky question that jumps out immediately to every thinking outside observer –
Paradox seems to surround Pető. His unorthodox approach was launched and took off during Hungary’s most hard-line Stalinist period, in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Did he have connections or even sympathy with the ruling party? After all, it was a period when orthodoxies ruled, so it’s odd that a man such as András Pető, who appears to have been attracted more by Buddhism than Marxism, was tolerated and even assisted by some of the people in power. Or was it 'simply' that some of them had been successfully treated by him?
As one of the compilers/editors of this book I hope that it will open a window on to Conductive Education through which some much needed, fresh, critical thinking can be directed into the sector, for the benefit of both those outside and those within.

In the meantime, the Budapest Times has produced an attractive feature page that might serve as a useful hand-out for people introducing Conductive Education in a variety of contexts.


Dent, B. (2012) Enigmatic 'miracle man' helped the 'incurable' (Review of András Pető, edited by G.Maguire and A. Sutton), Budapest Times, 21 November, page 9

See more of this book
New URL:

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


From the perspective of cognitive psychology

Professor Reuven Feuerstein, now 91, is the Grand Old Man of cognitive psychology, and the most prominent exponent of the position that human mental attributes are modifiable as an outcome of education.
It was only in 1989 that Reuven Feuerstein first heard of Conductive Education. Earlier this year he contributed the third of four Forewords to the collection András Pető. Here is are some extracts from what he wrote there –
Both Pető and myself had announced and declared our belief in human beings' capacity to modify their level of functioning. Further, the concept of human modifiability referred to here had been vigorously rejected by the biological, medical and even educational sciences, and this of course gave us a common destiny. Yet the Pető Institute knew nothing about the Feuerstein Institute, and vice versa.,,I soon learned that Pető and I shared a common belief in the whole of inherent human destiny, with Pető's major focus being on disorders of movement and the developmental effects created by cerebral palsy and other conditions that put humans into a state of dyskinesia. Our own theory, the theory of Structural Cognitive Modifiability, refers to the propensity of individuals to modify their low level of cognitive functions, irrespective of the aetiology that has produced them or the stage of life at which intervention was started, and with no consideration for the severity of the condition.
My first visit to the Pető Institute in Budapest and my meeting with its astonishing leader, the late Dr Mária Hári, indeed convinced me of the strong relationship between the two theories and their practice, in spite of their differences in the orientation … watching the conductors, whom I regard as mediators both of bodily movement and the processes of thinking, revealed to me the great richness and creativity that Conductive Education has produced in its repertoire of mediated learning experiences. From my point of view these modalities of interaction are able to modify the cognitive processes of children no less than their motor behaviour. I found in the work of Mária Hári and her colleagues, following the work of Dr Pető and transmitting it through the conductors, a real belief that change is possible because it is experienced so strongly as a need.
...This belief has created a modality of thinking and of creativity in those implementing the approach. I admired the incredible richness of the modalities of functioning, of inventing ways of making children move, how to make the children motivated, how to make them do what seemed to be impossible given the extent and degree of their motor impairment. The enormous diversity of modalities and the amount of learning required to understand what is behind the effectiveness of the modalities continue to be absolutely fascinating.
Here, however, comes the problem... These mediators, the conductors who took part in my discussions with Dr Mária Hári, appeared unaware of the formal meaning of their work for the development of inferential thinking, development of comparative behaviour and a large number of higher mental processes...
Both our theories were considered by the majority of biological, medical and educational scientists as totally incongruent and inconsistent with dominant views of the fixity of human traits and the unchangeability of the level of functioning. That so little was known about these two theories – Pető's and Feuerstein's – was strongly related to the fact that both theories had limited access to scientific evaluation, if any at all. This has led to our both being considered as rather erratic, reflecting the wishful thinking of the representatives of the two theories. The two theories, Pető's and Feuerstein's, have been said totally to miss the body of research, with its scientifically accepted techniques, about the fixity of human characteristics and the limited amount of change that 'science' has construed can be produced in those affected.
It seems unlikely that Reuven's warm and positive interest in Conductive Education is shared by many cognitive psychologists, or that indeed many have even heard of the tradition established by András Pető. His Foreword also recounts something of an attempt to bring the two movements together. In the event, Conductive Education has directed efforts to find its intellectual allies back within medical ways of thinking.  His complete Foreword is published on line at
The book's other two Forewords are written by Jo Lebeer and Judit Forrai:

Monday, 19 November 2012


As opposed to the drudgery, aggression and fear that András Pető rebelled against

Emma McDowell writes –
I read with great interest the reflexions of a past pupil on his life in the Pető Institute:
I agree – based on my son George’s and my own experiences – that planned daily routine was extremely important in the Institute, although George was never a boarder. He actually liked the predictability experienced in the Institute, and as we returned from year to year to Budapest for our two to three months' stints (during the late seventies and early/middle eighties), he often sighed with satisfaction: 'Everything has been changing in Hungary, but the Institute is the same!'
Now to my own thoughts on the subject:
To exist successfully in the real world routine is a great help for disabled people. They do have to plan their moves – mobility is all – and yes, it is reflected to some extent in their overall way of life.
To be honest, they are not much different in this respect from a whole lot of ordinary people!!!
Some people (mostly young and carefree) can afford a more Bohemian way of life, but even in a 'see how it goes' attitude there is a planned start, and a feeling of security in the self, such as 'I can always walk home…' (think of this on various levels!)
The type of self-reliance that conductive education aims to give to people (whose personalities would otherwise develop towards the opposite end, reaching higher and higher levels of dependency) is firmly anchored in reality. Pető considered teaching children how to put their weight on their feet IMPORTANT. He wanted to achieve this. For the children, it was hard but ultimately most satisfying work. (As it was for their educators, and their families.) Yes it influenced their later lives. Positively.
What Pető rebelled against in his poem was of course not the sort of positive – through repetition and practice developing – routine that characterized life for the boarders at his institute. In that there was aim, talent, innovativeness, joy (even if sometimes preceded by tears). Boring perhaps but which child doesn’t find school often boring? I certainly did; and, having lived in Hungary in the decades of communism I also know exactly what Pető’s “drudgery” (and aggression, and fear) mean in his poem! The outside atmosphere was unavoidably such for most people. He had to suffer it – go along with it to a certain extent, in order to protect what he wanted to be allowed to live and prosper: the Institute, Conductive Education!


And what András Pető felt

In a blog posting today Ralph Strzałkowski looks back at his childhood at the Pető Institute in Budapest, and speculates how the routine that he experienced there contributes even now to how he thinks, and feels and lives –
Ralph expresses himself as rather ambiguous towards what he experienced as a boy in this respect, and how he is now as an adult, and he may or may not be surprised that András Pető too appeared to have contradictory feelings about this. Indeed, András Pető had other contradictory feelings about his life in Budapest. In English translation, one of András Pető's little verses begins –

I rebel against drudgery – and indulge in it.
I rebel against aggression – and obey.
I do not want to be impaled upon the martyr's stake
And I dread the dungeon's abyss.
I do not want to be a hero for belief
Or a hero in war,
I honour only commonplace martyrs... [continues]

Risky sentiments to commit to paper at that time and in that place. To read the rest of this poem, and to see some more of his revealing and sometimes bitterly sad poetry, see pages 153-160 of the recent collection András Pető for English translations, and pages 259-267 for facsimiles of their German originals.


Maguire, G., Sutton, A. (eds) (2012) András Pető, Birmingham, Conductive Education Press

Strzałkowski, R. (2012) Routine, Lawyer on Wheels, 19 November

Thursday, 15 November 2012


(And the railways were playing up)
To Sheffield, well actually, to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (somewhere in the centre of the Desolation of Smaug) to attend Paces' seminar for representatives of CE-providing organisations in England.
Not a bad turn-out on the day, with 16 people turning out, from 12 organisations.

A good mix of folk, some usual suspects but some new faces too. Nobody from the state sector. Four conductors.

They were there for a free and open-ended discussion of the present and future of CE in England. Nothing terribly new to say (with one exception, below) but we are entering a new world and it all merits saying one more time (if only if not to have to hear some of it again).
A momentum, however, seems to have been established with several establishments seeming eager to set up further meetings in the NewYear.
Quo vadis?
Where is it headed? Who knows?. As of today, one may say that several CE service-providers have determined to continue meeting to examine the possibilities of creating a consortium, and to see where this might lead.
(NB This is not the first exercise in creating an informal association of CE-organisations in the UK – on the previous example of which, 'nuff said).
An interesting model
Joe Mawdesley of Rainbow House proposed an interesting notion, one that set me thinking. As I understood it, and I may have mistaken her words, she proposed that, in keeping with the spirit of the times, at least as now expressed by policy- and decision-makers in the UK, it would help Conductive Education no end it it were to begin expressing its outcomes in terms of its contribution to systemic social benefits.
These include social benefit at the secondary and even tertiary levels, and they involve not simply outcomes in human terms, such as family-functioning (and dysfunction), education, housing, health care, well-being and 'mental heath' but also – and here's the rub – considerable financial savings.
The congruity of this model with the psycho-social way of construing disability manifest in the practice of Conductive Eduction is immediate apparent.
A top-down social-benefit analysis, as I understand it, could point to a crying need for a radical reconceptualisation of motor-disorder that CE is well-placed to step forward to help fill. It also, of course, requires a radical rearticulation of the message that Conductive Education gives out to the world, and perhaps a much more flexible approach to service- provision.
Perhaps one will hear more. Thank you, Joe.
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