Thursday, 31 October 2013


Comments on line

There is now a Comments section open at the foot of CEP's website:

All that this needs now is some comments. The sort of things that readers write in other fields.
  • Where has CEP got it right?
  • Where has CEP got it wrong?
  • What do people think of its publications in general?
  • What do they think of particular books.
  • What do they like, what do they dislike?
  • What would they like to see next?
  • What do they think of what other people say?
  • Etc., etc...
Publishers and authors are influenced by feedback from their readers.  

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


Butter, margarine, years of research...
And the future of Conductive Education

In Saturday's Times, nutritionist John Briffa wrote –

Most of us treat butter as a guilty pleasure because we are warned that it raises our risk of heart disease via an elevating effect on cholesterol. Butter has been damned by official health bodies , so we often have less tasty, lower-fat spreads instead.

This week, however, and article in the British Medical Journal went against the view. Dr Aseem Malhotra, the cardiology registrar at at Croydon University Hospital, London, said that the 'mantra that saturated fat must be removed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease has dominated dietary advice and guidelines for almost four decades.' He argued that evidence shows that butter and unprocessed fats may actually be good for you, lowering your blood pressure and protecting your heart. It's time, he said, to 'bust the myth if the role of saturated fat in heart disease'.

The article in the Times followed up with a page of supporting information and argument drawing upon the scientific research literature, fetching up in the confusing world of sterols –

...several studies... show sterols have the ability to damage tissue and induce worse health outcomes in animals.

While the British Heart Foundation and many doctors support the use of sterols, the National Institute of Health Excellence (NICE) explicitly advises against their routine use..

A Siren song. The author concluded with just the naughty-but-nice advice that I wanted to read –

I am a practising doctor and the author of several books on nutrition, and in more that 20 years I have not bought a single tub of margarine. Nor have I consciously limited butter in my diet. There's little doubt in my mind that butter is better, and not just in terms of how it tastes. To my mind it need nor be a guilty pleasure at all, but just a pleasure.

But should this guide my action?

More research has been needed...

...and more and more has been provided. Huge sums have been spent on it and careers built, industries have been created, academic and commercial  and lots of jobs with them. But what will I know when my present tub of marge runs out (not long now) and I next stand before the cabinet in the supermarket?

I do not have the education to judge the knowledge that research has generated on this matter, nor the money to access it if I did, and I have a sneaking suspicion that this largely nomothetic information would still not help me understand what would be better of worse for little ideographic me during the time that I should be getting through my next tub of spread. What am I to think, how am I to decide. After all, this could be life or death.

'Conductive Education needs research evidence' – I hear this again and again, and again. I go along with this mantra (though CE perhaps needs much else first) but in a qualified way. But what kind of research, what kind of evidence, for whose benefit? Where do we want 'research' to take us, what do we want actually to know, to help our decision-making, be this individual, corporate or political? What can we know?

Where is the informed a priori discussion to light and guide CE's Gadarine rush to 'research'?


Briffa, J. (2013) Butter and your heart: the facts, The Times, 26 October

Malhotra, A. (2013) Saturated fat is not the major issue, British Medical Journal, 347, f. 6340

Monday, 28 October 2013


Wet and windy, fair later

Awake as ever in time to switch on the and hear this morning's Shipping Forecast provided by courtesy of the Meteorological Office, for the sea areas and coastal waters around Britain.

Not at all the usual tour. Glasses are falling and storm warnings are hoisted, for the what is forecast to be the worst Atlantic storm to hit the British Isles in decades.

Here in the balmy Midlands the pavements remain dry and the leaves still hang limply on the trees. The news bulletin, however, tells a different story from Southern England and South Wales. We shall get ours later this morning, it is confidently predicted. Then by tea-time, it is predicted with equal confidence, the whole thing will have blown over – literally*, having passed right across the south of the country and exited into the North Sea.

In parts of the southern Britain rush hour has been cancelled.

It certainly been has been for me...

*   A milestone!  It must be sixty years since my attention was drawn to the absurdity of the common use of the word 'literally' to mean in fact its opposite, robbing a useful word word of meaning and robbing it of the very emphatic sense that its use is intended to evoke.

Oh, that I should have should been beset by so many examples of the same process since, not least in my working live, and not least in the philological swamp of Conductive Education. This has not been as humanly destructive a process as the foolish over-prescription of antibiotics, but culturally it presents its own little process of iatrogenesis

I do not know why I took it so to heart, this early warning about the misuse of 'literally, but I have never once used the word since. Is it with great pleasure therefore that I can use use it here, literally, in the sense in which it was intended, and just maybe squeeze out a final drop of its remaining emphatic force from the sheer unusualness of its being employed in such a way.

Friday, 25 October 2013


Until 31 October

Until 31 October there is a 20% discount on orders for all books from Conductive Education Press. Just order in the usual way but enter the code OCTOBER20 at the appropriate point in the checkout system.

This offer covers all seven books so far published, including Ralph Strzałkowski's Never, Never Quit and both 'Pető Books'

For further details of all seven, go the CEP's website, where further links will take you to previews of the books' opening pages, and to order forms to buy copies on line (pay by card or PayPall):


All on one side

I recently used this long-established comparison again (in this case with reference to the left-liberal opposition in Hungary). This is not the first time that this expression has come to my mind with respect to the strange little world in and around Conductive Education – and probably not the last time that it may need a few words of explanation:
Like Lord Thomond’s cocks, all on one side. Lord Thomond’s cock-feeder, an Irishman, being entrusted with some cocks which were matched for a considerable sum, the night before the battle shut them all together in one room, concluding that as they were all on the same side, they would not disagree: the consequence was, they were most of them either killed or lamed before the morning.
Definition taken from The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, originally by Francis Grose.
I am reminded of this comparison, yet again, by Anne Wittig's impressions from the recent 7th World Congress:

To paraphrase Basil Fawlty, just don't mention the elephants in the room.

An earlier item on this

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


23 October 1956

So many events to commemorate, so much blood and defeat, so much to forget and maybe to  forgive.

Today is the anniversary of the Hungarian uprising, still well within living memory.

And long enough ago for many never to have known of it. Today's extended feature in LIFE magazine offers as fresh and vivid an update an one is likely to find in the Western mass media.

With thirty truly amazing photographs.


(2013) A rip in the Iron Curtain: photos from the Hungarian Revolution, 1956. LIFE, 23 October

Sunday, 20 October 2013


On line now
Why write? No one will read it. When they want to know they will find out for themselves.
András Pető, as reported by Mária Hári
People in Conductive Educations do seem to like quotations, particularly things that András Pető (supposedly) said or wrote, and things that have been said or written about him.

Unfortunately there are not so many of either of these in common circulation, so one tends to come across the same old things again and again. Worse, little of what does get passed around is attributed (that is, the sources of such sayings are rarely stated), offering no chance to form judgements on their content or veracity.

If you link across to the e-conduction site you will find a new quotation by or about András Pető at the head of its home page – renewed with a fresh one every time that you visit:

If you want another quotation, simply refresh the page.


These quotations are randomly selected (by computer) from the CEP Quotationary of András Pető his Conductive Education, from its store of 307 quotations from András Pető himself, those who knew him, and those who have tried to find out more.

These quotations were originally in German, Hungarian and English – all are presented here in English.

The CEP Quotationary is set out thematically and sometimes a vivid picture emerges – not at all like the AP of sanctified myth. Where historical truth lies is a matter for readers to judge for themselves. To help them in this, full bibliographic references are given for all quotations (forty named sources), and there is a detailed index.

To buy the book for yourself, click on CEP Quotationary of András Pető and his Conductive Education above the given quotation

Or link to it here:

They make one think

At the very least some of these quotations might give cause to pause and question some of the practices or services presently proclaimed under the name of 'Pető' (or 'Petö' or just plain 'Peto').

Some might prove invaluable when arguing the case for Conductive Education, or writing assignments.

Some might prove helpful in livening up a tired website, or adding a little authority

And some might lead on to further questions and enquiry...

Acknowledgement due

The idea of the providing these free, changing quotations on e-conduction's front page came from conductor Ben Foulger of ConductiveIT who, having come up with the notion then executed it. Thanks, Ben.

Further enquiries about what Ben's services at:


(2013) CEP Quotationary of András Pető and his Conductive Education, Birmingham, Conductive Education Press

András Pető quotations at every log-in

Saturday, 19 October 2013


Individuals and institutions
We are all going to die 
So what about our online remains?

With the gnomes

On the way home from Germany yesterday I had to change planes at Zurich Airport. What an colossal temple to commerce and Mammon. I did, however, spot something offered free as I scuttled between my flights, a British newspaper, not one that I usually read – no surprise, The Financial Times.

I am glad that I snatched up a copy as I rushed past, otherwise I should not have seen the following article introducing me to the not altogether unsurprising notion of the 'digital afterlife':

Something else to think about

I do not wish to be morbid but I suspect that this topic will now be something that niggles me until I do something about it. I am pleased to pass the notion on to others who also do not wish to be morbid – just sensible.

I see that there is already more than enough to read on this topic. Some examples:

The list goes on an on. As now apparently you do. It's an industry already, its concerns commodified, its products marketed, as my brief skip through Zurich could have forewarned. I shall have to give it some thought... Not this morning though.

Life goes on

Can one really get jet-lag and disturbed sleep patterns from just flying back from Europe to England? Or am I falling straight back into the old dysfunctional routine. Must get on...

And I have not forgotten that I shall have to write some snippets on that Congress.


Jacobs, E. (2013) Dealing with the digital afterlife, Financial Times, 18 October

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


Béla Biszku indicted
Hungarian prosecutors charged a former Communist Party official with war crimes for the first time on Wednesday over the suppression of an anti-Soviet uprising in 1956.
More than two decades after the fall of communism, the prosecution of Béla Biszku became possible under a law that stipulates war crimes and crimes against humanity do not lapse.
The 2011 law, pushed through by Prime Minister Viktor Orban's ruling center-right Fidesz party, allows for the prosecution of crimes committed under the communist dictatorship.
The Budapest prosecutors said Biszku, 92, was charged over his role on a committee of the Communist Party involved in ordering the shootings of civilians during protests in Budapest and in the town of Salgotarjan in December 1956.
'The Budapest Prosecutor's Office has today submitted to the Budapest Court of Justice an indictment in the criminal proceedings launched against Béla Biszku for war crimes and other crimes,' the prosecution said in a statement.
The maximum sentence for war crimes, which they said Biszku had committed as an abettor, is life imprisonment...
Than, K. (2103) Hungary charges former top communist official with war crimes, Reuters, 16 October
Two earlier postings

A little more information on this story, in two earlier postings on Conductive World

11 September 2012

6 October 2012

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


Mao or Zhou?

People keep asking me what I think about the 8th World Conductive Education Congress.

In response, I am tempted to quote Mao Tse Tung (Zedong) who is widely reported to have replied, when asked what he thought of the French Revolution –
It’s too early to judge
Except that it was not Mao who said it, and anyway the comment made actually  concerned the 1968 student riots in Paris:

Still, the sentiment is a good one! Watch out over the next couple of weeks here on Conductive World and on Conductive World's facebook page and I shall try to oblige:

Publicly expressed thoughts from elsewhere will also be cited.

Pity about Mao and the French Revolution, though, especially in the context of Conductive Education. Think of all those fish:


Friday, 11 October 2013



This Congress has two Presidents, both professors in Bavarian universities. Both delivered Keynote Addresses as part of the opening session of the Congress.

Rainer Blank is a paediatrician. His address concerned an evaluation project that he published twelve years ago. He described Conductive Education as –
'...reptitive block therapy based upon repetitive training of functional skills in everyday living.'
The outcome was measured by children's force of grip.

Angelika Speck-Hamdan is a pedagogue –
'Conductive Education was developed in an exclusive situation, exclusively for children with cerebral palsy...'
Both said that it is 'holistic', as did everyone else who spoke at that packed opening session.

Explanatory note
A keynote... is a talk that establishes the main underlying theme. In corporate or commercial settings, greater importance is attached to the delivery of a keynote speech or keynote address. The keynote lays the framework for the following programme of events or convention agenda... at academic conferences, the keynote address or keynote speech is delivered to set the underlying tone and summarize the core message or most important revelation of the event...
The term key note comes from the practice of a cappella, often barbershop singers, playing a note before singing. The note played determines the key in which the song will be performed.


Thursday, 10 October 2013



Franz Schaffhausser announced at the opening of the World CE Congress today that the Pető Institute is to be absorbed into the Hungarian state education service, and be financed accordingly.

At least that is what it sounded like to me from the simultaneous translation on the Congress earphones.

Further information will doubtless follow...

Friday, 4 October 2013


Lays out its stall with lavish brochure

Very commercially stated, but no prices.

Competitive stance


A video that was not paid for

Just before I posted the previous item on Conductive World, I realised that I could not remember the year in which we made the promotional video A Gift from Hungary, so I looked it upon the Internet.

It was 1990, such a long time ago!

But I also noticed that some two years ago a very poor copy of this video has been published on YouTube –

A Gift from Hungary was not a bad production for its time, but that time is a long time ago now. The world has changed and Conductive Education, its goals and its needs, have changed within it. It is nice to see that this 13-minute short still seems to hearten parents.

This was not, however, its prime attention. It was produced first and foremost as a fundraising tool for the a particular charity, the Foundation for Conductive Education. Those involved in its making gave their labor and their talent free of cost. This went for the film's director Ann Paul and its writer, Michael Dean*, the production company Sound & Picture House, and a youthful-looking Bob Hoskins.

Indeed everyone who appears on screen looks extraordinarily youthful now – and the children shown are now adults.

Intellectual property

We did not copyright this film when it was made. Why should we think that there would be a need to control something made for the specific purpose of showing to potential donors? Much good it would have done if we had, anyway! And back in 1990 the very notion of YouTube would have seemed, well, implausibly futuristic. I doubt that those whose youthful images and intellectual property have been appropriated here without their permission will object – though you never know.

The posting that led me to finding this video on line had emerged specifically from the economics of producing Conductive Education books, and gone on from this specific example to the economic reality of implementing Conductive Education more generally. Producing films of a decent quality is but another example where pro bono, free-of-charge labour may often prove the only way forward

And while appreciating that readers and viewers have their own legitimate personal problems and priorities, somehow it seems ironical that even labour that has been freely donated should not at least be acknowledged when it comes later to be 'borrowed'


Sutton, A. (2013) Like it? Conductive World, 2 October

* Ann and Michel had been responsible for Standing up for Joe and To Hungary with Love. They went on to create The Transformers series.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013


Then do please buy it, if you can!


This week Conductive Education Press announced publication of the first of two new books to be ready for the forthcoming World Congress. Quite a number of people have clicked 'Like' on pages where the announcement appears on Facebook, and some have commented kindly. And a tiny few have already bought, the first of these to be on sale on line .

At the moment of course there has been no time for purchasers to receive their copies, never mind read them, so the 'Like it' comments can only be at the level of awareness: people like the news that another book had book has been published. That is gratifying.


Comments include a brief thread started by someone asking whether there would be a French translation*. There was only one possible reply, to say that she would be very welcome to do one but that her real problem would be finding a publisher.

Someone else wrote in immediately, to say that she would buy a French edition if one were done:

I suppose that at one level this is gratifying too. But is is salutary to be reminded how easy it is not to be able to satisfy everyone, and create disappointment.


Those who have never submitted a book proposal will know that a publisher's first question has to be 'What is the market for this book? In other words, who is going to buy it, at a sufficient price and in sufficient numbers, to cover the cost of preparing, manufacturing and distributing it?

For many years the honest answer reveals that CE publishing is not a commercial proposition – indeed it is a financial liability. That is why, excepting in the most unusual circumstances Conductive Education publishing is born out of love (or charity). Even with writing, production, all human labour given free, even with those who would normally be paid contributing their personal money, there still remains the problem of selling enough to cover costs, and making the surplus requires even to generate the necessary free copies for review etc.

And let us face it, reading is not exactly a majority priority within the CE sector – and few outside the immediate world of CE – want to read about Conductive EducationE nowadays. Until someone strikes it lucky and produces another CE bestseller, offering concrete grounds for optimism to all, any realistic business plan can look like a commercial suicide mission.

A French translation? At one level, all one needs do is find someone to take on the tricky task of translating the words, their sense as well as their meaning. But there is another task, trickier and longer, creating a climate of awarness in which enough French-speakers will have even heard about l'éducation or la pedaogie conductive, then convert mere awareness of Conductive Education into personal and social demands for a book, and generate the resources and the structure to respond with a concrete and adequate product. Bon courage, mes braves!

Or perhaps there are other ways.

This posting is not about publishing... French, or in any particular language. It is not even a parable. Publishing is one, small concrete example of the whole problem of implementing Conductive Education.

To pay to do it this all requires money – to do it properly even more. There is a only small potential customer base of people who are even aware of its existence, never mind understanding what it is for and the nature of its benefits, and most would-be users are unable to pay personally for adequate conductive services. To provide conductive services at all requires love/charity. It can demonstrably done, but successful demonstration does not mean that CE will then be made widely and adequately available – and that goes not just for the rich, Western world! There are neither the resources nor the political will for all those who might benefit to receive what they need.

Or perhaps there are other ways...

The ways things are

I recall the words spoken by Bob Hoskins in Anne Paul's promotional film A Gift from Hungary that I was involved in many years ago:
Conductive Education is a gift from Hungary, but it is a gift that must be paid for.
Never a truer word, then or since, in all sorts of ways. Like it? No but one grows accustomed...
* VaIerie Feron Debris wrote 'It's a shame, not in French!!!'. Laure Levy added 'I'd buy it if you do it in French'.


   (2013) New book on András Pető, Conductive World Market, 29 September

Paul, A. (prod.) (1990) A gift from Hungary (promotional video), Birmingham, Foundation for Conductive Education
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