Thursday, 31 January 2013

New, graphic world listing being prepared
Gill Maguire and Ben Foulger are working to produce a new, graphically displayed guide to where conductors are working around the world.
Gill and Ben intend to make this as comprehensive and visually attractive as they can, open to anyone capable of using Internet maps. In the end, however, the service will be only as good as the information included – and this is down to you.
Tell us more, tell us more, tell us more...
If you know of any service, centre, clinic, school, consultancy etc, where conductors work, then please send the website address (URL) directly to Gill Maguire:
Gill's will be withdrawing her current listings from Conductive Education Information.
Look at these as soon as you can to correct any recent changes in Internet address – or to let her know that no conductors work there any more.
Remember, the Internet address (URL) is all that you need to send if a service is still there.
Caveat emptor!
Note that this is a guide only to where conductors provide services to children, adults, and/or their families. There is no possibility of offering judgement on the quality of the services involved – or even how 'conductive' they might be.
Further information
Here is a cheery musical reminder...

Wednesday, 30 January 2013


A mother's words 
Maybe this has to do with the fact that I'm not exactly an angel myself

We'll begin by saying that I'm the mother of a daughter who has special needs. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, I want my truth in bare feet: 
– No, I haven't been graced with special 'angel-like' traits, although that is what people have been telling me. 
–  Her name is Shahaf (Seagull); she cannot fly, or walk either. 
– When I look at her I see an unsolved maze, with challenging entrances and countless warning signals.– When I feed her or dress her, I still imagine that she is an infant. When I pick her up out of her wheelchair, her weight reminds me how old she really is.– When she types vigorously on the computer keyboard, I imagine that really soon she will be a circuit engineer. And then I remind myself that she simply enjoys the sound.– When she is moving or repeating sounds, I still don't know if it does her good or not. The very lack of knowledge makes me think.– When she hugs her little sister tightly, I feel like sending her into time-out in her room the same as her siblings. But I swallow my anger, take pity on her – and try not to pity myself.– When I raise my voice to her, I know it's not healthy. As for the neighbors: I'm not sure that this will make them think the better of me.
 For the past twelve years, I have learned not to give a damn AT ALL!
– When she was away from home during the period of the surgery, I couldn't imagine my life without her; although… several hours later… my powers of imagination returned.– On ordinary days I don't take my eyes off her... Although... the idea of making her disappear for a few moments from my line of vision and range of hearing doesn't feel like such a failing.– I am raising her with love, not because 'I'm impressed with how large the challenge is', but because 'She is what came out of my belly'.– She won't marry… not the end of the world, considering the outrageous prices of dresses these days.– If anyone should dare to harm her, he'd better take his last breath.
 If I'd have had the chance, I could have chosen my own challenges myself.
– What I have written is correct only for me and my thoughts.– I'm sure that the other parents are absolute angels.
Written by Ifat Ohad 
Translated into English by Dova Aroety
Ifat published this in Hebrew on her blog, on 1 December last, and it has also appeared in this form in on Tsad Kadima's parents' blog. When I first read Dova's English translation as published here I could not help but wonder whether the Hebrew original had been written as a poem. I asked; it was not. I can, however, imagine its passing as such if read aloud at a poetry club in England.


My thanks to Rony Schenker for putting me in touch.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Remember the Ákoses

It is a while since Conductive World mentioned something theoretical, so here is one prepared earlier (in 1991). It comes from my Foreword to the book, Dina, by Károly and Magda Ákos and concerns how they saw the essence of Conductive Education –

Though terminology differs, underlying concepts may be comfortingly familiar. 'Anthropogenic co-operation' refers to the interactions, the reciprocity,out of which human personality develops, with the child playing an active role. Dysfunction is seen as a learned, psychological outcome of disability within this context, with 'metamorphosis', transformation, possible through appropriate adult attention. Movement is not some separate, physical product of nerves and muscles, but arise essentially out of the joint, meaningful activity of adult and child, within the emotional bond of parent and child.

Most especially, the developmental psychology described evokes the work of Vygotskii and his followers...

Naïve interpretations by visitors to Budapest, seeking to ground what they have seen or heard there firmly within the framework of existing practises and structures,have suggested that Conductive Education is somehow a mix, combination or agglutination of teacher, therapist, nurse, etc. Both the practical accounts and the theoretical statements given by Károly and Magda Ákos confirm the necessity to take on the child's total psychological development, not least its emotional and motivational aspects, in any attempt to create movement education for cerebrally palsied children.

At the time I took it for granted that psychological sophistication within the field of CE could only grow – indeed this book, and its original German-language edition were intended as a step towards bringing about a deeper and broader theoretical understanding of the system to match that so well expressed in its practice.

Twenty-two years... What happened?


Ákos, K., Ákos, M. (1989) Dina; eine Mutter praktiziert die Konduktive Pädagogik (Petö-System), Ulm, Alabanda 1990

Ákos, K., Ákos, M. (19 91) Dina: A Mother Practises Conductive Education (Petö System), Birmingham Foundation for Conductive Education, and Ulm, Alabanda

There are also Chinese and Russian editions to be found, and much of the English edition quoted above is available on line:

Learning more

Find numerous previous items on the Ákoses on Conductive World by entering Akos into the 'Search this blog' box in the top left-hand corner of this page (indicated by a small magnifying glass). Scroll down, and down... for several pages.

Amongst these a posting of July 2010 includes enthusisatic testimonies to the continuing value and relevance of the book Dina, from Norman Perrin, Susie Mallett, Rony Schenker and Emma McDowell, along with further onward links:

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Mens sana in corpore sano
An ancient holistic ideal!

Earlier this month, thinking back on two very different experiences of institutional care in his childhood, Ralph Strzałkowski wrote – 
It seems pretty obvious. The right kind of people can inspire and motivate you and make most hard work pleasant. The wrong kind of people can give you nightmares that will haunt you for the next 25 years. Some people should not work with disabilities, but then some people should not work with other people to begin with...
Perhaps it isn't fair to compare Polish nurses to conductors from the Hungarian Pető Institute, mostly young energetic women who were there guiding children with cerebral palsy through rehabilitation. Warm, loving and kind. I have never experienced spiritual ugliness there and it did allow me to heal. When you don't have to worry about being in pain and mistreated you can actually focus on growing confident and becoming independent...
Maybe Pető wanted to harvest this youth and enthusiasm as essential to his method. But do we always stay this way? How do you not lose the passion. I don't know what happens to human spirit over time. I don't think we're born ugly. Maybe it's something we become...

How András Pető selected

Vera Förster worked for András Pető in the early fifties, as a kezelőnő. a 'handling lady' –

Pető ... required no formal qualifications from the young women that he interviewed to work with him. They had to be bright and physically strong, with no preconceived ideas about disability. As far as possible, he chose girls who had a boyfriend and a harmonious family life, dismissing anyone who said she wanted to devote her life to 'poor crippled children'. (p. 160)
This is probably no longer possible in its specifics under European equal-opportunties law, but as an unexpressed cultural heritage, who knows...

What is happening in Budapest this Saturday?

The Pető Institute will hold its preliminary aptitude tests for would-be conductors. Candidates should be there no later that 11.00 a.m., meet the matriculation requirements for schoolteachers, and bring with them a registration fee – and sports kit.
Keep young and beautiful
Initial recruitment is of course only one question.

Another interesting question is how do so many conductors avoid the pitfalls of the classic professional experience of burn-out – and how does one ensure that this continues.
How do so many conductors appear to maintain and even develop greater sublimity over years and years of practice? One factor may of course relate to the institutions in which they work, but some appear to do this despite their workplace!
How to achieve this is a secret that would significantly enhance many a profession. I wonder whether one answer might lie in and around 'results'.
Conductors, born or made...?

Another question, how one might modify and develop initially unpromising candidates... Not today, though.

Forster, V, (2009) A daughter of her century, Southampton, Clucket Press

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Comes with my personal recommendation
Advances in the sector of Conductive Education may come from the edges, the frontiers where it meets knowledge and experience far removed from its own, rather than from its own established ways of doing things.
CE and IT
Ben Foulger was a software engineer before he trained as a conductor. As a student-conductor and in the years since his graduation he has been engaged with how Conductive Education might benefit through use of IT. He has now formed his own company to pursue this dream.
The company is called conductiveIT and its website now on line will be subject to continuing development:

Ben will be pleased to hear from individuals and institutions with a problem to solve or a project to create: 
Some of us need help, lots of it

Some of us have a problem using even simple commercial applications. Some of us do not even know what might be possible in the first place. I can say such things because I myself am totally inept, an IT-illiterate.
Ben is a patient tutor (after all, he is a conductor) and I have relied upon him to steer me through difficulties, and create ideas where I had none before. He has helped bring my own ideas into e-life. Inter alia , he came up with the notion of Conductive Post, and brought it to life:

I have seen a couple of the other notions that he has on the stocks. Watch out for their launch.
If you have an idea that you want developed, a new website, an public information service, an internal data system, whatever, I can recommend that you drop Ben a line and discuss what could be possible.

In Germany
A brief item to preview the 8th World Conductive Education Congress in the magazine of the national association of private care providers:

(2013) Konduktive Förderung als Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe: Weltkongress 2013 in Deutschland, bpa. Magazin, nos 4 and 5, p59-60

Disabled people

The article concludes by saying that, alongside professionals, disabled people will be especially welcome to attend the Congress – though it does not include mention of Ralph Strzałkowski amongst its list of Keynote Speakers.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

On Facebook

I received an unexpected message via Facebook this morning –

Hi Andrew,

Judit Jáger suggests you add Mária Hári as a friend on Facebook

The Facebook Team

Eerie! But why not? Only yesterday I remarked

The world has certainly come a long way since she fought her battles to defend and preserve András Pető's Institute and Conductive Education – and the fragile trade of conducctor.

Nowadays, if you are not on Facebook, who are you? At the very least a page such at this would establish a presence. Mária died shortly after the advent of the Internet Age but she had her computer (and an Internet line) in her apartment. She loved it. I like to fantasise that, had she lived, at the age of 89 she would still be keeping a steely eye on what is being said and described on line. There might have been rather greater caution about writing and showing some daft things on line if she were still here to say what she thought of them. Imagine her reaction to some of those unspeakable videos...
  • This Facebook site has been running only since 9 January.
  • So far its friends seem to comprise mainly young conductors, which is encouraging.
  • There is very little content there as yet (I suggest the immediate addition of the date that she died, 6 October 2003) yet I know that there are so many fond memories, and tales to be told.
  • There is also one of favourite pictures of her, and I hope that more will be offered.
  • There are so many links that could be provided...
So, I shall join, and encourage others to do the same. I shall watch what turns up and post a few things that seem appropriate. I do hope that others will too.

You can find Mária Hári's Facebook page at:

New Zealand's answer comes to Italy

It looks and sounds so elegant in Italian –

Incontro del 22/01/2013 -

"Cos'è la Conductive Education"

La Orizzonte Autonomia Onlus con il patrocinio del Comune di Camerano
presenta l'incontro:

"Cos'è la Conductive Education"

Breve introduzione alla Conductive Education, sistema integrato di rieducazione fisica,
cognitiva e sociale per bambini e soggetti disabili, nei casi di malfunzionamenti
a carico del sistema nervoso centrale.
Apertura dei lavori
Martina Recanatini

 Assessore Servizi alla Persona del Comune di Camerano.
Giulia Fesce
Presidente Orizzonte Autonomia Onlus.
Virag Czibok
Capo Conductor presso Waikato Conductive Education Center,
Hamilton, Nuova Zelanda.

Martedì 22 gennaio 2013, ore 18,00
Palazzo del Comune di Camerano,
sala convegni "Umberto Matteucci"

Orizzonte Anutonomia Onlus

Briefly, Virág Czibók, head conductor at the Waikato Conductive Education Center, Hamilton, New Zealand will be addressing the ever-interesting question of 'What is Conductive Education' at a public meeting in Camerano town hall, on 22 January. All are welcome. The above notice explains further –
A brief introduction to Conductive Education, an integrated rehabilitation, physical, cognitive and social, for children and disabled people, in cases of dysfunction dependenton the central nervous system.
The meeting is organised by Orizzonte Autonomia Onlus (the Horizon Autonomy Association), based in Camerano near Ancona.
Nice to see European attention to New Zealand's rational, local, above all educational model of providing CE
Further information


Monday, 21 January 2013

Is her message still clear?
Over the weekend I stumbled upon some students corresponding on Facebook over an immanent assignment.
Apologising for her research skills, one has asked: 'I know that there are quotes from Mária Hári about a conductor being all things...teacher, physio, etc., etc., Anyone know where to find such a quote?'
Oh, I know that feeling so well, the nagging knowledge that I have read something somewhere, and the self-irritation at not having made a note of it at the time (as if I should be able to find it if I had!)
In the event, on this Facebook discussion as in real life, it was the intervention of a knowledgeable Librarian that answered the quest for written source, though again as often happens, the answer was not as may have been anticipated (step forward Gill Maguire).
Spotting all this this later that evening I could not avoid raising the obvious fundamental issue –
Mária Hári would be spinning in her grave (if she had one) at the very idea of such a sentiment's being attributed her. It evokes the title of an article by paediatrician Kenneth Holt, which in turn evoked a determined formulation of Ester Cotton... Nuff said.
I had meant to post this as a Comment on the thread but it is not there so I guess that I forgot to press the button. That assignment will be diminished and submitted by now, but waste not, want not.
Mária regarded the multidisciplinary people as 'the enemy' (not the only one). The world has certainly come a long way since she fought her battles to defend and preserve András Pető's Institute and Conductive Education – and the fragile trade of conductor.
Holt, K. (1975) A single nurse-teacher-therapist? Child: Care, Health and Development, vol. 1, no 1, pp. 45–50

Not just the snow

Economic effects of a few days' snow may be pushing the UK's economy back into depression – an economy so fragile that even considering the possibility of further negative growth may make matters worse.

The real problem is of course more fundamental than snow in January but long-term and structural.

Oh dear, can spring rally be that far behind?

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Don't mention the economic crisis

Conductive World used to make recent mention of forthcoming economic decline. Now that this has so obviously arrived then there seems less reason to dwell on it! It is part of the wallpaper.
In the UK over the last few months, increasingly noticeable against the general background of economic gloom is the disappearance of familiar shops, particularly large, familiar chains of shops.
For two or three decades now small individual, locally owned shops have been disappearing, undercut or bought out by very large national or even international chains. All monocultures are so terribly vulnerable. Economic stress and technical progress is now pushing such chains into the economic ditch. One begins to wonder what will be next, and what succeed them.
Not the wore problem in the world, but one that people can see and experience all around them. It rather brings things home.
My free newspaper today (itself a product of economic and technological change) came with wrap-round pages advertising a big furniture chain making an extraordinary bundle of offers on its products:
  • half-price savings
  • pay nothing for a year
  • no deposit
  • interest-free credit.
Isn't that the sort of financial policy that got this country and moist of the Western world to this economic pass in the first place?
Conductive Education?
I have no concrete news of how it is surviving midst all this.
Nifty footwork
Well, one of the Bee-Gees is still with us.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

And Conductive Education?

The Brain Recovery Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, based in Pasadena CA. It has been established by the parents of a boy who has had a hemispherectomy, and seems to have set out in a big way on what looks like an ambitious programme of research and public education –

We initiate and fund research that specifically addresses how one half of the brain can best recover the functions lost when the other half is removed. This research helps not only those who have had a hemispherectomy, but also provides key insight and solutions for the broader brain-injured community, including acquired and traumatic brain injury, autism, dyslexia, and other epilepsy surgeries.

By summarising existing scholarly research and articles into 'plain English wording, our parent and educator guides help families and professionals understand research and rehabilitation issues following hemispherectomy surgery.
Its first research grant ($160,000 ) has already been awarded, and the first introductory guide for teachers is now available on line, free, as a Pdf.

An awakening

The Project's impressive website is currently appearing on line, page by page. It includes the following –

Conductive Education
 Coming soon

Google Alerts woke me today to tell me about this, with the following gnomic email (that will have gone out to anyone else with an alert set for “conductive education”) –

Conductive Education
Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Vestibulum tortor quam, feugiat vitae, ultricies eget, tempor sit ...
Latin? You don't see much of that nowadays in Conductive Education (not since András Pető adopted the word 'conductive' to define his motor therapy, subsequently his pedagogy). What can it mean?
Nothing actually, since these are deliberately jumbled words that come a later passage from the centuries-old text printers' filler Ipsem lorem. In unscrambled form they come from Cicero's De finibus bonorum et malorum ('On the extermes of good and evil').

Conductive Education

A few years ago now, at his Institute in Jerusalem, Reuven Feuerstein proudly showed me Mediated Learning at work with a teenager who had had a hemispherectomy. I have not come across Conductive Education used in such a case but there is so little case-reporting in CE that there may well have been instances unsung. A priori one can see considerable potential benefit from conductive pedagogy and upbringing.

I look forward with anticipation, therefore, to what the Brain Recovery Project reports to replace the dummy Latin text.

Conductive World will pass on what appears. Meanwhile, those with practical experience of CE in this context, as users or providers, might like to get in touch and share this.


(n.d.) Lorem ipsum
Full text:

Sutton, A. (2010 ) All together now, Conductive World, 1 May

Monday, 14 January 2013

'Used to be...' is another country

There can be something hauntingly poignant about sentences and clauses containing the words 'used to be', such as:
  • when the development and education of children with cerebral used to be the subject of research interest as about as high a level as this country could manage at the time
  • when there used to an altogether alternate psychology standing in the wings
  • when the then Spastics Society used to see fit to support somebody trying to bring the two together 
Here is one window into that world that used to be, a published research article by Ralph Burland who, as I recall, worked as a psychologist for the Spastics Society (actually, I think that he was the Societ's Principle Psychologist):

It looks so ancient in its assumptions and presumptions. And yet...

That world has now long vanished, taking with it many of its good features along with many of its bad.
This was not the greatest research study in its field, before or since, but it does represent a small but substantial tradition in English psychological investigation into the development and education of children with cerebral palsies, now passed away. I would therefore like to add another cliché to the repertoire of things to put in the Conclusions section at the end of reports:

More research should be remembered

A little more of that other country

Just how different it was can be seen from another article by Ralph Burland, published just a couple of years later in the popular-science magazine New Scientist. Things were really motoring:

New Scientist - 11 Mar 1971 - Page 564 - Google Books Result

Towards a paradigmatic cliff.


Burland, R. (1969) The development of the verbal regulation of behaviour in cerebrally palsied (multiply handicapped) children, Journal of Mental Subnormality, vol. 15, pp. 85-89

Burland, R. (1971) Help for handicapped children, New Scientist, 11 March pp. 564-565
New Scientist - 11 Mar 1971 - Page 564 - Google Books Result

Submitting something?
Mentoring abstracts

If you are thinking of presenting something to WC8 in Munich this Autumn, don't forget that the deadline for submissions is 30 April – long enough for institutions and individuals to get something ready in time, but not that long.
For a quick guide into submitting to this Congress, see:

If you do not feel confident about submitting a presentation, a display or whatever, take courage by seeking help. And certainly don't be embarrassed at admitting that you feel unsure. Everyone has to start somewhere. Find somebody who has done such a thing before to explain, demystify, talk you through it, and help and tutor you at any stage that it might be needed. Such an educational service is usually called 'mentoring'.

Two years ago, for WC7, I tried to help in this matter by providing various degrees of mentoring – for example. discussions around possible topics, active, encouragement, help with writing abstracts and even 'lektoring' actual presentations. Perhaps others did too. I myself shall not be providing this service this year but there is still time for potential mentors and mentees to seek each other out.

Connect others too?

Conductors are so thinly spread across the globe, and may be isolated both from each other and the contexts in which they work.

Gill Maguire's Conductive Education Information has just mentioned two informal arrangements trying to link conductors to each other:
  • Ben Foulger's internet group ConductorConnect
  • ACENA's monthly conference call, currently discussing the role of the 'teacher-conductor'
There may be other such informal initiatives withing Conductive Education. And not just for conductors.What? Where?

Maguire, G. (2013) Conductors talking and sharing, Conductive Education Information, 13 January