Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Yet we still have a Wall

В нижней части этого сайта вы найдете список из десяти самых посещаемых постов так как этот блог начиналось (в 1997 году).

Самый посещаемый пост является единственной опубликованной на русском языке, цитируя статью (написанной мной) опубликован в журнале:

Это было введено в строй 17 октября 2008 года. Размещение до сих пор уделялось 61,425 посетителей. По меркам этого сайта, это необычайный интерес – "вирусный"!


Так много русских-говорящих посетителей. Я не знаю, почему. Я сделал ничего особенного.

Россия огромная страна, 'БРИК', в процессе социальной реконструкции. Кроме того, фундаментальных понятий Проводящие образования полностью совместимы с традицией дефектологии Л. С. Выготского и его последователей. Необходимость ощущается родителей в обществе интеллектуально подготовлены ...

А почему нет?

Это такая жалость, что проводящий железный занавес между Россией и Западом в этом отношении, кажется, существует до сих пор. Я только что видел программу на 8-й Всемирный конгресс Проводящие образования (Мюнхен, ноябрь). Там нет вкладов от стран бывшего Советского Союза. Не самом деле, ни одна из стран бывшего СЭВ (за исключением Венгрии, конечно).

Что здесь происходит? Это такая жалость.
At the bottom of this site you will find a list of the ten most visited posts since this blog began (in 1997).

The most visited post is the only one published in the Russian language, quoting from an article (written by myself) published in a Russian magazine:

This posting went on line on 17 October 2008. It has so far received 61,425 visitors. By the standards of this site, this is extraordinary interest – 'viral'!


So many Russian-speaking visitors. I do not know why. I have not done anything special. 

Russia is an enormous country, a 'BRIC' in the process of social reconstruction. Furthermore, the fundamental concepts of Conductive Education are wholly compatible with the tradition of the defectology of L. S. Vygotskii and his followers. A need felt by parents within a large society intellectually prepared...

And why not?

It is such a pity that a conductive Iron Curtain between Russia and the West in this respect seems to exist still. I have just seen the programme for the 8th World Congress of Conductive Education (Munich, November). There are no contributions from the countries of the former Soviet Union. Indeed, none from the countries of former Comecon (except Hungary, of course).

What is happening here? It is such a pity.


Sutton, A. (2008) Кондуктивное воспитание: революция для семей с детьми, страдающими от церебрального паралича, Conductive World, 17 October

Sunday, 28 July 2013


Now going on line
Not all there yet

The programme for the 8th World CE Congress is now in process of going on line. It is not yet completely there as the Abstracts for some items are still not yet available, including Keynote Addresses and some pre-Congress workshops, and Abstracts for some presentation are not yet available on both Congress languages of German and English:

It is a very large programme. I have just spent over an hour taking a first look through it and have still yet to master its navigation. As a result I did not yet find everything and everyone I wanted to see. The Search function did find the Abstracts that I was looking for, but not their spots on the programme. I did finally find my way to the films but the posters continue to elude me. Perhaps tomorrow.

There are some very interesting things in there and I hope that there will be something for most people. There are also, however, Abstracts the relevance of which to Conductive Education wholly escapes me, and others that simply defy understanding. It would have helped if more contributors had followed the Congress's guidelines.

Work in progress

The chosen contents are now set. No doubt the omitted Abstract material will soon be falling in to join the ranks and perhaps the site may even be made a little easier to navigate.

Meanwhile, there's a feast in store for those who browse the site, whatever you are looking for – intellectual excitement, innovative practice, choking indignation, or sheer Schadenfreude...
* This programme tells the world many things about Conductive Education, Along the way these collected Abstracts confirm that 'scientific' should be the very last word used in English to describe CE.

Lack of market-leader is possible explanation why few can

More than three-quarters of people aged 16 and over cannot name a disability charity – so says a survey by company nfpsynergy.
The company's co-founder and 'driver of ideas' proposes an explanation – 

Lack of awareness might be down to absence of a market-leading charity in that area.

Other possible explanations include general confusion over what the word 'disability' might refer to, lack of respect based upon experience or reported experience of such charities' actual work, and palpable lack of excitement in the messages from the field.

Conductive Education?

There are doubtless countless more possible explanations of this survey's findings, all untested, but if they do have validity then the bottom is dropping out the disability-charity market in England – and there could be a serious problem (one exacerbated by a subsidiary finding that younger respondents were even less aware of disability charities than were older ones).

Conductive Education in the UK has developed with one foot firmly planted in the voluntary sector. Where now?

You can of course argue that CE is not best counted under the 'disability' category and market its charitable appeals under 'education' or some other category. Good luck.


Hudson, S. (2113) Almost eight in 10 people can't name a disability charity, poll shows, ThirdSector, 28 June 2013

Friday, 26 July 2013

Not necessarily for long

'Oftsted' is England's feared and rigid school inspection system. From its position at the top of the state-educational muckheap it is immune to all criticism. Except of course its own.

Apparently its top category for rating schools – 'outstanding' – has not been properly awarded in its latest super-duper whizz-ding system.. Upon reinspection over a hundred schools had had this rating withdrawn, and are now merely 'good' which is not, I gather, considered good enough.

What will this be doing to some people's house prices! How mortifying, to buyers, if one has just exchanged contracts! Is there work here for m'learned friends?

Schools awarded 'outstanding' most recently can rest secure upon their laurels, until something changes.

By the way, the word 'outstanding' in the title of this posting refers to the name chose for the top the rating category, not of course to Ofsted itself for which 'egregious' might be a better choice.


Harrison, A., (2013) Dozens of 'outstanding' schools downgraded, BBC News, 26 July

Thursday, 25 July 2013


World Congress participants make own PR

As I did for the Seventh World Congress, the one in Hong Kong in 2011, I submitted more than one 'Abstract' to the forthcoming World Congress, the one to be held in Munich in October 2013. After all, I reasoned to myself, they are paying me to go all that way and putting me up there, just to give a Keynote Address, I really ought to give value for money.

More selfishly, I thought, I ought to keep my hand in and, anyway, I quite enjoy doing it.

The invited Keynote Address (my ticket there) needed an Abstract to go in the published programme, so along with it I submitted Abstracts for three oral presentations and, jointly with Gill Maguire, for a poster presentation, following the conventions laid down by the organisers under the rubric of 'Rhythm and balance'.

Come the day, one of my oral presentations was not accepted.

No sweat, this Congress has a very full programme, and now I shall have a little more time to hear other peoples' stuff.

Congress abstracts already on line

On 10 June, Ralph Strzałkowski published the Abstract of his Keynote Address to the Congress, on his blog, Lawyer on Wheels:

On 1 July, Susie Mallett published the Abstract of her poster presentation on one of her blogs, following this on 17 July with the Abstract for her oral presentation (both accepted):

On 17 July Conductive World published Rony Schenker's Round Table that she has convened (also accepted):

Yesterday, on 23 July, Susie Mallett published the Abstract of a second oral presentation (also accepted):

Other presenters may also have published their own abstracts on line. Information on where to find these would be most welcome, to share more widely, whether they be on blogs, social-networking sites or CE-centres' own websites.

The Congress has an extensive website and its own Facebook page but it has not yet itself  taken the opportunity to publicise some of its actual content in this way. Particularly before the 'early bird' price-offer expired, this could have been good PR and probably an effective aid to recruiting more participants. It could still prove effective.

Below I publish the Abstract of my presentation that didn't make it, as an Appendix to this posting. Over the course of the summer I shall also be posting on line my Abstracts that did. And of course, links to any others that appear on line.

Munich, the book

The World CE Congresses publish their collected Abstracts but not a full Proceedings. Unless presenters make their own arrangements to self-publish or to submit their presentation for publication elsewhere, so-much interesting-looking work is effectively lost to the wider world – unless of course they respond to subsequent personal enquiries with full written transcripts.
Past experience has shown that little of the considerable programmes is actually published, and that requests for transcripts meets little response. This is a particular shame as some of the most interesting Abstracts in the past have featured the sort of accounts of practical conductive work, in centres and schools, at home, and in other settings, that the world so cries out for.

Following the Seventh World Congress, in Hong Kong, I collected my various contributions together and published them in the form of a small book. Last Year in Hong Kong:

I shall repeat this exercise after the German Congress – including the full wording of the rejected presentation on CE-literature (Abstract below). This publication will be available early in the New Year. I hope that the Munich conference will find other presentations, leaving their written trace in some way. It is so much easier to do so nowadays.
The time available for each oral presentations at Munich will be limited and it will not be possible to say all that one might wish on the given topics, especially if sensible time is made available for discussion with the audience. The published versions will be more extensive, and referenced.


Mallett, S. (2012) The World Congress for Conductive Education 2013, Conductor, 1 July

Mallett, S. (2012) The World Congress for Conductive Education 2013 – Abstract Two, Conductor, 15 July

Mallett, S. (2012) 'Let me tell you another story…’, Conductor, 22 July

Strzałkowski, R. (2013) The Abstract, Lawyer on Wheels, 10 June

Sutton, A. (2011) Last Year in Hong Kong, Birmingham, Conductive Education Press

Sutton, A. (2012) WC 8: Round Table in Munich: first Round Table announcement, Conductive World, 17 July


The 'CE-literature': some problematics
Andrew Sutton

Background: A first overview of the available 'CE-literature' (Cottam and Sutton, 1985) found it small, largely in English, often mistaken, and not very helpful. Nearly thirty years later, immensely more is available, but this may still mislead as much as inform about Conductive Education. This 'literature' by now includes academic and professional writings, PR and marketing, paper and electronic materials. Now as then one has to reserve this cautionary position:
'Perhaps the art of education is ultimately conveyed only by a work of the imagination'
(ibid., p. 27)
In 2013 there are many materials out there, for all to see. In these years of CE's internationalisation, the author's personal intervention has promoted a few books some serial publications, and created a publishing house, with emphasis on encouraging others to publish. Others have made their own interventions.
Continuing problems: Now in the Internet age, everybody can publish but most people need considerable help and encouragement to become 'writers'. In writing about CE, quality control and describing practice remain persisting problems. Developing 'the literature' is not a priority for CE's institutions. There is little time for mentoring, and little market for CE publications.
'Three estates': CE once largely comprised three groups:  
  • conductors  
  • users and would-be users  
  • a 'third estate', a small number of involved professionals and academics from other fields, who once contributed disproportionately towards the literature. 
In the twenty-first century the third group is very small. 
A 'technical literature': This needs to be plausible to those outside CE and useful to those within. Its creation is more than the quantitative problem of generating a growing number of unrelated works, plus the qualitative problem of how good these are, but evolution of a systemic whole, an organic body of knowledge linked together by sensible and critical reference to what had gone before and what happens elsewhere, kept alert by critical review, and clear and lean from disposing of what is no longer worth knowing. It should be dynamic and holistic. CE's literature remains neither.
Without prospect of a strategic plan for Conductive Education, how might one progress from here?
Cottam, P., Sutton, A. (eds) Conductive Education, Croom Helm

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Try a specialist au pair agency

Conductive au pairs, fixed-term live-in conductors, have offered some families and conductors remarkably productive arrangements, and have made an important contribution to the long-term the spread of CE in some countries.

There have also arisen some extremely problematical situations.

One sensible way to protect both partners in such arrangements is to work via a professional, specialist au pair agency. A.P.EX.–ProAuPair is a nationwide agency operating in the United States

In June 2011, the US Department of State designated ProAuPair with the first and only dedicated Special Needs Live-In Child Care Au Pair Agency Program in the US allowing parents to hire European educated Special Needs Professionals. These women and men are looking to add to their experience a year or two of working and living with special needs children and their families in the United States.

Because of the underlying cultural exchange philosophy vs. a pure employment program, families can engage flexible & affordable special needs child care with the skills, qualifications, and attitude your family needs at very affordable rates. The minimum commitment and visa for a participant is 12 months and can be extended with the same or a different family for 6, 9, or 12 months.

In Belleview WA the Area Director of ProAuPair is conductor Zsuzsanna Balogh:

I fact, it's quite a Hungarian business:

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Where is it all going?

I went into a big post office this morning (lucky to find one) to enquire about a parcel.

As usual I looked a bit lost, but I was immediately seized upon by a pleasant young lady patrolling the floor in search of such lost souls –

'Can I help you, sir?'

Service with a smile. So far, excellent. I started to explain what I wanted but she cut me courteously short –

'I'm sorry, sir, but that is a matter for the Royal Mail?

'But,' I protested feebly, though already pretty sure of the sort of thing that would come next, 'post offices are part of the Royal Mail. Aren't they the same thing?'

'Not for the last couple of months,' she explained patiently (probably not for the first time), 'I'll go and ask for you with the Royal Mail.'

So off she went across the floor, to a counter all of ten feet away, and repeated what I had just explained to her to a lady who till a couple of months ago may well have been a colleague (or perhaps not).

Back she came, wreathed in smiles, and explained that my problem was now being dealt with by the Royal Mail. Just for my future edification I asked what the two organisations do.

'The Royal Mail delivers letters and parcels', she told me, 'and the Post Office is, well, post offices.'

I must try to remember this.


I wonder what other countries do. No, perhaps best not even to think about it. I also wonder what has happened to Postman Pat. Presumably he has stayed with the Royal Mail, along with his bright-red van. But where's his black-and-white cat gone?

I would like to think that those clever people who devisedall this understand exactly what they are dealing with and what they are doing. I suspect, however, that they do not consider themselves to need to, being concerned with matters of higher import for which these once public services exist merely as political pawns or commercial commodities.

Like most of Conductive World's items on economic and structural change, this is a heavenly story with an earthly meaning, a parable. In England, think of the current reconstruction of 'special educational needs'.

And what will happen to Conductive Education?


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

Friday, 19 July 2013

Jobs and other loss

I has a little time to kill this morning in the High Street, waiting around between between eye and ear tests. Looking to find some effective air-conditioning I wandered into the local Modelzone store. Modelzone is a national chain of model supermarkets.

Or it was. Greeting me at the front door was a notice from the accountancy firm Deloitte's, telling that the company is in administration, and large banners announcing 'Everything must go' and '25% and 50% off'. Inside everything was already pretty bare.

Unlike in Germany and in certain other Continental countries, the days of high-street model shops in the UK seem well and truly over. Trade has shifted to the Internet and to direct purchase from small suppliers. This is part of complex economic trends that are not of course just a matter of model shops, and affect different retail sectors in different ways.

In response to tight economics and burgeoning online trading, the whole retail sector in the UK is being reconstructed – but I do not do much 'shopping' and am therefore rarely directly reminded of the effects of this. Walking into that dying branch of Modelzone reminded me sharply of the continually heard complaint that 'the high street is now dead'.

On getting home I read that Deloitte's could not find a buyer for the complete business and has already started closing many of Modelzone's 47 stores across the country, with large numbers of staff already losing their jobs. Deloitte's has just found a buyer for the wholesale side of the business, but only 18 jobs out of hundreds will be saved.

David Mordeca, Modelzone's founder puts the failure down to the company's falling under the control of venture capitalists with over-ambitious plans for expansion. Its wholesale wing is now being bought by rival modelling company Ripmax – perhaps rather closer to the customers than to the bankers.

Maybe Modelzone did well to survive so long (it opened in 1987). It was not the first attempt at establishing a national chain of large High Street model shops. Beatties of London ended with 60 stores nationwide but overreached itself trying to break into the computer-games market. It went into liquidation in 2001, quite a few of its shops being bought by... Modelzone.

The financial collapse of Beatties brought a particular casualty of the trading of toy and model companies as commodities. In 1964 Beatties had bought the old-established model-railway company Bassett-Lowke, including the by then already historical collection of its earlier products. When Beatties went to the wall this museum-quality collection of heritage transport toys, a national asset, was incorporated into 'The Beatties Collection'. It all went to auction. 

And today in the United States the City of Detroit has filed for bankruptcy...


(2013) Buyer found for Modelzone wholesale arm, Wales Online, 17 July

Lowthorpe, D. (2013) Modelzone founder’s bid to buy part of business, Eastern Daily Press, 13 July

Thursday, 18 July 2013

And others
One of the greatest regrets of my career was that in the late nineteen-nineties I failed to help introduce CE into India, to Chennai to be specific. No excuses, no pack drill. It was a terrible wasted opportunity.

Since then I have struggled to understand what has been happening with CE and its essence in Hong Kong and the great Chinese hinterland. And with what we in Western Conductive Education might learn from Oriental Conductive Education, towards resolving the crisis in our own CE, based upon essentials rather than upon superficialities.


These two very different experiences of mine have had in common that they have met almost universal disinterest within Conductive Education in the West.

Hong Kong and China are of course on very different points on the CE road, the former already carving out its own broad highway, the latter barely started. Potential commonalities, however, are there to see.
  • On present projections India's population will be overtaking overtaking China's around 2028. What else do the two have in common? Some terrible things. And also enormous diversity and the most extraordinary energy and intelligence.
  • And why do they both seem such obvious candidates to seize the essential messages of Conductive Education and then go on create new practices and new ideas? An ocean of need beyond our contemporary Western imaginations. And in both cases, in their own way, 'their culture'. What a cliché! 
'Culture' and CE – caveats
  • Neither India and China has a uniform culture. Neither is like the other, except in so far as neither of them is like the West. 
  • In places they abut, in places they may even blend, and within-group differences may be greater than those between. But neither is like the West.
  • 'Culture' here refers not just to ancient heritage, in such matters as child-rearing bringing up and educating children, but also to present-day dynamic entrepreneurialisms. 
  • Both cultures have features that may prove enormously compatible with CE and nurture its implementation, but both include features that in different ways may also prove immensely problematical.
  • Such analysis may be extended to cover Brazil and some of the economic tier below the BRICs.
  • As for the Russia, well, that may be something else.
Taking a conductive road

There is nothing inevitable about the onward progress of Conductive Education as we variously at present know it. But CE does offer such enormous advantages and potential...

India and China, and some others, may find their own ways, or take other roads. They offer situations that have something very important in common with with that faced by András Pető and the tiny band of co-workers with whom he started this ball rolling. They begin with nothing but energy and vision, and they have a world to conquer. It is still such early days, anything is possible.

India: a picture says it all

This picture says it all for me:

I am deeply indebted to Karthikeyan Subramanian, of Discover Abilities – A Path to Success, for drawing this picture to my attention, and thereby sparking this present posting.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

First Round Table announcement

Some time ago the website of the 8th World Congress announced –

Round-table discussions will be held on Friday, October 11, 2013, 16:00 to 17:00. Participants are strongly encouraged to propose a topic for these discussions. Those who would like to chair such a round  table discussion can inform about their topic by e-mail to

Rony Schenker has now announced the product of her own response to this opportunity.

'Parents teaching parents'
Friday 11 October 2013
Hall 3, 11:15-13:00

Norman Perrin, Paces Sheffield

North America
Patti Herbst, Center for Independence through Conductive Education

Anete Mozes, Tsad Kadima

Margara Millan, Con Nosotros

Ruth Durr, FortSchritt Rosenheim

Iris Lieu, CereCare Shanghai

Leticia Burigo, Com Amor
 Margara Millan
Rony Schenker
Questions for contributors
  • What made it possible to set up a center – socially, economically, politically – and did it turn out like you expected?
  • What were the major opportunities and challenges along your way, and how did/do you face them?
  • What it means to go from being a user/advocate to a provider/manager?
  • Describe the professional/operational model of your center and the professionals' resource/training.
  • What is the single most important advice that you can give to young parents just starting off setting up their own CE service?
Contributors' prepared replies to these questions will not exceed five minutes each.


The whole Round Table will last 105 minutes, to include an introduction, panellists' responses to the five questions and time for questions from the audience. Each panel-member should be prepared to respond to all questions but will be asked to reply to only two or three. In this way the programme will maintain its schedule and avoid repetitions.

Presumably there have been others arranged, though none has yet been announced. There seems still time to set up further ones.

Monday, 15 July 2013

授人以鱼,不如授之以渔 (1)

Thanks for all the fish (2)
'Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.'
This 'old Chinese proverb' is often misattributed to Lao Tzu (Laozi), the originator of Taoism; to Confucius; and to Gun Zhong.

Attaching such a saying to the name of an ancient Chinese sage confers rather more apparent authority than does the suggestion that it originated in English in the mid 1880s, in the novel Mrs Diamond, written by Anne Isabella Ritchie, the daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray.

If the origin of this saying in English weren't obscure enough, in Chinese it is even more so. It definitely does NOT come from the writings of Lao Tzu, Confucius or Gun Zhong. My Chinese mentor assures me of what my reading suggests, that its origin is controversial! Its wording, I am told, suggests the style of the late Qin era and the early Republic (that is the first forty or so years of the twentieth century). It seems highly likely that around that time some anonymous Chinese intellectual came across this comforting thought, originating from Anne Isabella Ritchie's probably even then forgotten novel, rewrote it in his own translated words, and graced it with an ancient origin.

Does anybody know where or how this entered the unquestioned canon of Conductive Education lore? In this context the supposed proverb presumably implies that it is more worthwhile to teach people to do things for themselves than it is to do things for them. Fair enough...

Sometimes, it has been said to me, we me need myths and legends more than we do facts. Precisely so, many people do need just that, for all sorts of reasons, and sometimes it may be a cruelty to deny people their opiates.

Myths offer traditional stories that in pre-scientific times served as default explanation and justification of the world as it was Personally, however, I lean towards the advantages of urging more scientific understandings (3).

1    Old Chinese proverb (allegedly)
2    Douglas Adams: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
3    Not least for reasons of plausibility. Dubious 'old Chinese proverbs' are no basis for public advocacy and acceptance in the twenty-first century. There are surly more acceptable ways available to express pedagogic principle.