Saturday, 14 September 2013


A week is a short time in politics

Last Sunday, 8 August, conductor Júdit Szathmáry posted the following a notice in CONDUCTIVE WORLD MARKET asking what people outside Hungary might do to lend a hand to the PETŐ INSTITUTE in its present hour of need. There has followed a considerable discussion, with contributions from Germany and the English-speaking world, during the course of which Beate Hoess-Zenker from Mjunich suggested a petition or a postcard campaign from conductors worldwide to express solidarity with the Pető Institute. On Wednesday the 11th, Júdit posted the following petition on line, on the iPetitions website –
The Petition
Dr András Pető was born 120 years ago today, on 11th September 1893. He and his institute helped millions directly and indirectly worldwide and transformed the way the world views disability today. The Pető Institute is in great need of help to maintain its existence.
This petition  is for the officials who have the power to take good care of the Pető Institute in Budapest, Hungary and for philanthropists and investors who think it is a worthy cause. This petition was set up for all the children, adults, their families and everyone in management and all staff at the Pető Institute. This petition is from all of us around the world who care and have benefited and are still befitting from the work established by Dr András Pető and those employed who are still earning a living delivering this worthwhile service. Above all else this petition is to preserve Conductive Education at its root, allowing it to be available for future generations. 
Show your support and make a difference by signing your name. Thank you very much.
'We now know that the System of Conductive Education is specifically a humanist social education, a complex educational system which takes serious account of emotional and cognitive functions. Many scientist regard it as one of the most outstanding developments of 20th century rehabilitation and education work, since as regards integration, it was far in advance of its time. Pető’s Conductive Education occupies a significant place in the system of education of the 20th century. Pető put his opinions and theories into effect in real life with great precision and their validity was proved by the results which were achieved. His education demonstrated the complex nature of the human organism, and following on from this the programme and system which made use of the connections and interactions reshaped rehabilitation work and in essence laid the foundations of the independent science of conductive education and conductive education collage. For his work professor Pető received several disciplinary warnings, but also -at the end of his life- recognition.'
Mária Hári MD, Pető Centenary – Preface (page 4) from Pető András (1893-1993) Budapest, 1994 September AGRO-PRINT Kft 94/156
By now the signatures to this petition number 188 but along the way the online discussion has taken an expectable twist: the PAI appears not to welcome a petition. This morning Beate had posted again, this time to say
Prof Schaffhauser wrote yesterday he don't want a petition to be sent to the Hungarian government in this moment. He let us know when it will be necessary!
So it goes...

One can appreciate the awkwardness of Franz Schafhausser's position. Foreign involvement in the domestic affairs of Hungary, and attempts to influence political decisions about how Hungarian institutions are financed and administered, is hardly likely to engage the sympaythy of the Fidész regime, and could even therefore prove counterproductive.

In the marketplace

By going to the MARKET as she did, Júdit was following an ancient tradition.

As the Greeks well knew, the market is a good place to set up your soapbox and attract public attention to your cause, to receive people's suggestions and opinions, and to generate action, a good place to find people and to identify potential supporters, for the basic stuff of politics. 

Lessons from history?

I know of two previous CE on-line petitions

The first was in 2009 when people around the world realised that Gill Maguire's redundancy would likely mean serious curtailment of the library and information services that she had built up:

Rony Schenker launched an online petition –
The Petition
Following the decision of the Foundation for Conductive Education to make redundant the post of Librarian at the National Library of Conductive Education, we the undersigned respectively and most urgently request that the Foundation for Conductive Education take all necessary steps to ensure that the functions and services of the National Library of Conductive Education should continue and develop, to the benefit of the whole international conductive community.
This petition opened on 2 March 2009, with its final signature appearing on 22 October the same year, having in that time collected 284 signatures. These are still recorded on line, along with the Comments that people wrote to accompany them. A very interesting historical record this provides:

The second CE oline petition sought support against rejection of a request for planning permission that had been made by Legacy Rainbow House:

The Petition

Please support our plans for the future development of The Legacy site and help children with brain injuries, disabilities and life limiting conditions from throughout the UK.
This petition opened on 22 July 2010, with its final signature appearing on 7 August 2012, having in that time collected 354 signatures. These are still recorded on line, along with the Comments that people wrote to accompany them:

I understand that planning permission for expansion was finally granted:

What lessons are to be learned here? I am sure that readers will appreciate the opportunity of checking back to sources, exercising the wisdom of hindsight and then deriving their own.

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