Tuesday, 23 July 2013


Major figure in the early story of Conductive Education
One of András Pető's earliest collaborators in Budapest

Dr Júlia Dévai Kálmánné has reached the grand age of 100 years

Immediately after the Second World War, still a medical student, she volunteered to work with András Pető – in those early, pivotal first years during which he progressed remarkably quickly from personal practice, through association with the College of Special Education, to running the Institute of Movement Therapy that was specially built to house his work.

Júlia moved on in 1952, before which she played important roles in helping establish aspects of his new, pioneering practice – what we now in English call Conductive Education. By then she had graduated from medical school, and she went on to specialise in radiology, to which she devoted the rest of her long professional career.

Last month the website of the Hungarian Armed Services' Medical Centre reported an informal ceremony to celebrate Júlia's 100th birthday and her many years devoted work as a radiology specialist there – 

100th birthday greetings to former radiologist colleague at the Military Hospital
Hundredth birthday greetings from colleagues to Dr Júlia Dévai Kálmánné, former co-worker of the X-ray Department of the Military Hospital.

Dr. Gábor Forrai, current Head of Department of the Central Radiology Diagnostic Unit, gave a warm opening speech expressing his appreciation and gratitude that in respect to radiology the solid foundation that the Military Hospital had been built on was largely due to the dedicated and high-quality work of former staff – including Senior Lecturer Dr Júlia Dévai Kálmánné.
In his birthday greeting the Medical Director of the Hungarian Army Medical Centre, Brigadier-General Dr Lajos Zsíros remembered his years of medical training at the Military Hospital when, studying X-rays for the first time, he received friendly tutoring from Dr Dévai. 

He said that he still feels nostalgic about these pleasant professional memories and was honoured to have the opportunity to thank his former mentor and teacher on the occasion of her centenary. He also expressed his appreciation and joy that although advanced in years, his medical professor enjoys good health, physique and mental abilities, despite night duties and all the hard work with which those working in health care have had to cope.
Dr. Pál Viczena, former Head Physician of the X-Ray Department of the Military Hospital summarised and praised Dr Júlia Dévai's life and work in his speech, emphasizing her unbroken integrity, love of humanity, optimism and sense of duty, manifest throughout the storms of wars, revolutions, persecutions and dictatorships –

Júlia spent nearly 50 years in the radiology profession, 12 years at Sándor Péterfy Hospital and 34 years at the Military Hospital. She retired in 1980, but continued to work through retirement till 1995, and then for a further three years as a volunteer, as she herself put it ‘a squatter in good faith’. Her work was recognized in 1988 by election to the Hungarian Society of Radiology as an Elected Honorary Member. She saw the training of young doctors and assistants as an important addition to routine tasks and community service. She was a demanding but consistent tutor, behind whose words always lay love.
He remembered that there was a nurse who complained about Dr. Dévai’s criticism, and her reply was – 

My dear, if I did not like you, if I did not regard you a worthy person, I should not care how you carry out your work.
Dr. Viczena then shared personal memories that Júlia had been a great help to him in acquiring the tricks of the trade when he was a young physician on the team at the X-ray Department of the Military Hospital, and also later on during joint research activity.
Dr Júlia Dévai Kálmánné thanked everyone for the many good wishes and told the audience affectionately that she recollected the more than 30 years that she had spent in the Military Hospital as the most beautiful and happiest period of her life.
The Hungarian Army Medical Centre's management and staff hereby wish to express their good wishes for further good health to Dr Júlia Dévai Kálmánné on the occasion of her birthday.

To read the Hungarian original of this article, see:


Conductive Education's debt

In any movement people come and people go, new people retell the story of what went before, and it may prove easy to forget who and what might have been important at the story's earlier stages. But the history of Conductive Education is still a short one and some live to tell the tale even of its earliest days in war-wrecked Budapest. 

In recent years Júlia Dévai has provided vivid accounts of that time, in both Hungarian and English. You can see some of Júlia's major contribution to this in the book András Pető:
Gill Maguire is preparing a brief bibliography of Júlia's writings about those pioneer years.

We owe Conductive Education as we now know it in part to the dedicated work and the personal ingenuity of Dr Júlia Dévai. Let the wide world of Conductive Education join the world of Hungarian military radiology in congratulating her on her hundredth, thank her so very, very much for what she has done for us, and wish her all the very best in her retirement. 


(2013) 100. születésnapján köszöntötték a Honvédkórház egykori radiológus munkatársát, Magyar Honvédség Honvédkórház, 10 July

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

1 comment:

    Collected and presented by Gill Maguire
    Six works, published over 1999-2012
    Not a bad task to take up in one's late eighties...