Monday, 18 March 2013


A reminder

Yesterday I passed through the centre of Birmingham, en route for Stratford-upon-Avon where Gill Maguire and I were to meet the ever-accommodating designer Nick Castle about 2013's programme for Conductive Education Press.

Most uncharacteristically for a Sunday, Birmingham city centre was awash with people, a sea of red, white and gold (well, red white and orange actually), sporting of the green, or dressed as leprechauns, wearing brightly coloured fun-fur pints of Guinness on in theirs heads.

It was St Patrick's day. Along Digbeth, in Birmingham's supposed 'Irish quarter', the pubs have been overflowing on to the pavements, with van-loads of police in their strange canary-yellow costumes, trying the keep the cheerful crowds off the highway.

Colourful, good-humoured, Oirish in the best sense. I thought of the warm and the revolutionary songs that would be sung in the bars and pubs, not least the songs of heartfelt welcome and of resistance to oppression.

And Conductive Education?

A jarring note here. I also thought of the sour welcome that CE has received from authority, in both Irelands – in the North from the state education service, in the South from bureaucratised therapy – and of the history of repression from established bodies towards those who have sought to bring Conductive Education to the island of Ireland.

I used to think of Ireland as a graveyard of Conductive Education dreams.

The fight of course continues. Nowadays things may perhaps be a little better across that water. Look at Intelligent Love's Workplace Map and see that Buddy Bear and Pető Cork are hanging on, joined recently by Hand in Hand, and that Lighthouse summer school remains a longstanding annual event.

But there could have been so much more.

Maybe there are more. Underground. Like the leprechauns. They may not wish to be on the Map.

1 comment:

  1. From Belfast in Northern Ireland, CE pioneer and now carers' advocate Emma McDowell writes –

    Indeed, it is unbelievable how 'they' have managed to suppress Conductive Education in Ireland, after such a great initial grass-root interest and enthusiasm.

    I have just recently skimmed over my own analysis of this sad phenomenon (an illustrated talk given in Birmingham at the 21st birthday conference of the Foundation for Conductive Education) and was amazed at the amount of effort that we had put into 'spreading the word' here.

    Apart from all the brick-wall-type official opposition, it was also the hyped-up expectation (whipped up by early CE “businessmen” – not by RACE!) and an unrealistic reliance on what 'money can buy. Consistent hard work, conductive lifestyle', long-term gains, sensible economics? Who wanted (and wants) to hear about these? Least of all those who hold the purse-strings of public spending. Also some well-meaning other bodies also tend to misinterpret ideas like equality ('They can be more equal from wheelchairs, than through being forced to achieve more'), parents’ rights ('Give them some money and some little “respite” to ease the pain'), and 'education'.

    Enough of this. . I see the children (and young adults) around, who could have benefitted and didn’t. .And it causes me real pain.
    Happy St.Patrick's Day!