Monday, 18 March 2013


Continuing uncertainties

I am considering topics to submit as oral and/or poster presentations for the 8th World Congress. There are things that I wish to report that I regard as practically useful and theoretically interesting. I even dare hope that audiences will find them so too. I am sure that others are at the same stage of consideration.

To be frank, though,I am not finding this easy. I shall not give up, and hope too that others who share my problems will not give up either.

What's it all about?

The Congress announcement helpfully breaks down the overall heading of 'Rhythm nad Balance' as follows:

Research and evaluation
  • Current scientific evaluation. Study design
  • Measurement tools, life quality satisfaction
Early education, children and young people
  • Daily life. Inclusion
  • Puberty and sexuality
Adulthood, and transition from school age to adulthood
  • Working and lifestyle, sports and leisure time
  • Vocational education. Inclusion
Professional education and politics
  • Competencies and working fields
  • Transcultural adaptations

I do not really have anything to say about 'rhythm and balance'. Nor to be honest do I particularly wish to hear a programme devoted to their measurement and their manifestations at different stages of life. Maybe lots of other people do have lots to report on these topics and many others will want to hear about this.. Rhythm and balance are important matters in their own right but from my own standpoint anyway they do seem rather peripheral to the urgent, big issues within and around Conductive Education everywhere in the world. I suspect that I am not alone in so thinking.

I find it a problem in shoehorning the fourth of the above categories into 'rhythm and balance' category. The introduction to the Congress website tries to help by offering offers a somewhat figurative (and rosy) view of how the Congress title might be interpreted:

Rhythm and Balance are essential features of Conductive Education, which aims to promote all personality fields in a balanced way. Conductors use methods such as day rhythm, rhythmic intent, rhythm in word and song, in order to support disabled people. They find in a self-determined lifestyle balance and rhythm between support, school, spare time and job.

The professional training of conductors is a rhythmic balance between theory and practice. We want to combine quality with national adaptations, we want to establish academic and professional training with well-balanced funding and make Conductive Education available all over the world. In the frame of the 8th World Congress for Conductive Education, we now want to find rhythm and balance for and between vocational topics and politics, between the demand for quality education, culture and social events, between networking and national diversity, between development and tradition and a balanced offer for both professional audience and for the concerned people, their families and interested parties.

Taking a figurative the perhaps that I might submit could fall into the fourth of the above categories 'Professional education and politics' – but hold on, consideration in these term raises another level of problem. The notion that problems of, for example, education, competence, and transcultural adaptation are necessarily best model under a rubric of rhythm and balance is at best an ideological position. Cosy, comforting, but highly questionable. In this world there are more important substantive things to say and discuss, and a range of conceptual frameworks within which to do so..

So what to do? Perhaps follow the unspoken rule that many conferences appear implicitly to accept. Turn a blind eye to the title and the stated theme of the conference, and try to present something that it stimulating and informative, and withing one's range of enthusiasms. As time draws on, this is probably what I shall do – and again I hope that others will too. It will then be up to the conference committee to accept such submissions if they wish and to place them in the programme where they see fit.

How long?

How long does an oral presenter have? The Congress offers the following guidance –

Advice for the different presentation types
Oral presentations are short talks in sessions joining about 3 to 5 presentations with a common focus. Speaking time should be about 10 to 15 minutes (preferably using PowerPoint) plus about 15 minutes discussion. Every session will be chaired by one or two experts.
I can do without the slide show, thank you. I interpret the rest of this advice to mean that I shall have a thirty-minute slot, the first ten to fifteen minutes of which I can fill at my discretion with a formal presentation, followed by an equal time for its discussion.

Or is this a wildly optimistic reading of the instructions? It sounds very satisfactory, offering time to delve thoroughly into a chosen topic and for people to agree or disagree, argue or amplify. It is how conferences 'used to be'.

I think that I recall its looked like when I first planned for going to the CE Congress in Hong Kong, and I began to prepare what I might do accordingly. My submissions were accepted. Then, much nearer the actual day, I learned that speakers' allocated times were to be reduced, I remain wary at this pointy of offering something substantive that cannot be abridged.

May I am simply interpreting the instructions over-optimistically. Perhaps they mean that I should have ten or fifteen minutes to present my piece, with discussion of the whole content of that session's three, four of five presentations being discussed in a single fifteen-minute slot at the end. This could work rather well – if there is a real 'common focus', and incisive, informed chairing.

Either way, one would have to know in advance in order to prepare properly.

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