Friday, 8 February 2013


All change

What with mega-volcanic eruption, major climate change and a colossal meteor strike on the Yucatan Peninsula (near the present-day city of Peto), it was a busy old time for the world about sixty-five or sixty-six million years ago. Small wonder that the dinosaurs all but disappeared, and rather faster perhaps than used to be thought, and small fluffy bunnies rushed in to fill all sorts of ecological niches.

So it seems from stories in the papers today:

I am reminded of a lecture that I gave in 2008 (actually my very last lecture to undergraduate student conductors). The lecture was in the future of Conductive Education. The world economy was just beginning to fall apart and so unfamiliar was this new circumstance that it seemed almost ungracious to mention it. I already by then felt that internal contradictions within the Conductive Education movement would lead inevitability to major change that the forthcoming era of economic disruption could only exacerbate. Ever the optimist, however, I suggested that there was a silver lining to look for.

There follow my notes for the relevant part of that lecture.
Who/what will survive (not just in Conductive Education)?
Again, think positive. For example, think Triassic-Jurassic extinction. The dinosaurs almost all disappeared (leaving a few alligators, some turtles and a lot of birds)... but also leaving the mammals to inherit the earth!
Now is the time for little bunnies to look to their potential strengths. Adapt and evolve... find comfortable ecological niches. Adapt and multiply, and take over the world.
So… whatever next?
Conductive Education may not be able to survive intact in the now familiar forms of the present international stage. And there will be no time to redeploy and reconstruct to resolve its internal contradictionsfor itself'. External forces may impose such change upon us... more and faster than might be wished .if, to put it simply, the money dries up. That need not necessarily mean curtains for Conductive Education and the heritage of Andras Pető
What are our evolutionary advantages (and disadvantages)?  What are the triumphs and failures?  What are the strength and weaknesses of world-wide Conductive Education? These may be vital factors in deciding what happens next.
Triumphs/strengths. Demonstrable adaptability; geographical spread and diversity (in practice and structures); continuing parental enthusiasm; a continuing implicit identity (but see next paragraph); a mass of barely realised potentials yet to be elaborated/demonstrated; an as yet barely realised generalisability to a wider range of applications/conditions; demonstrable potential for adaptation to new theatres (Internet, developing world, others?); long, often productive experience (by some) of attack, shortage, stress and endurance; a tradition of survival against the odds despite severe shortage and adamant opposition (Andras Pető again, and also many of the international pioneers of recent years); some very idealistic and altruistic people. As a result, conductive pedagogy has been successfully implemented, in all sorts of situations.
What else?  
Failures/weaknesses. No coherent, agreed explicit account of the system; therefore all sorts of would-be emulations; no effective representative bodies (employers, employees, users); so no unified positions/actions; little culture of collaboration; no obvious allies in existing systems; no political support, no leadership, or 'followership'; poor communication, internal and external: some 'weak links'. And with rare exceptions, conductive upbringing, CE's potentially strongest card, has been largely set aside. Er… that's enough failures and weaknesses for now!
Remember the mammals. Can Conductive Education's evolutionary advantages be utilised to outweigh its evolutionary vulnerabilities? Exciting times for the small and warm-blooded!

Of course, none of this may prove relevant at all to the present-day social reality of Conductive Education. But if it does, the heritage of AP and those who fought with him has a lot riding on those fluffy bunnies. And less than ever than in 2008, I have none on the dinosaurs.


Sutton, A. (2008) Conductive Education: whatever next? Towards post-recessionary thinking (lecture)

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