Wednesday, 26 February 2014


Potential in Taiwan?
A working holiday agreement signed between Taiwan and Hungary earlier this month will take effect in June, allowing young adults to travel and work in each other's country... Under the program, Taiwan and Hungary will each allow an annual quota of 100 nationals aged 18-35 to stay in each other's country for up to one year.
There appears a low background interest in Conductive Education slowly growing in Taiwan (where English is quite widely spoken), among both individual families and institutions. The question as everywhere is how to achieve it. This new arrangement may possibly contribute a possible window opportunity for those both Taiwan and in Hungry who are interested on getting something going.
It is now up to initiative and imagination in both countries...

Not just Hungarians

Though the greater part of the world's conductor workforce remains Hungarian, note from the article that Taiwan already has such working relationships with other countries from which conductors might be sourced...


(2014) Taiwan-Hungary working holiday pact to take effect in June, China Times, 26 February

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Glad to to take off sellers' hands for a reasonable price

Grossly undervalued on Amazon

Seen on sale on Amazon for tuppence (no deal on the postage):

Memoirs of the beginnings of conductive pedagogy and András Pető, by Júdit Forrai

Sold by Better World Books of Dunfirmline, Scotland, which generates funding for literacy charities through the sales of second-hand books.

Former library copy, good condition.

NB £0.02 is not this bookseller's lowest price!

Book wanted

I have been trying for ages to find a second-hand copy of Anita Tatlow's Conductive Education for Children and Adolescents with Cerebral Palsy. (2005).

Can anybody help?


Dilemmas of separation in the world of CE

One of several unusual features of the world of Conductive Education has been separation from home – especially from family.
  • From the earliest days of the Conductive Education story this was most remarkable in that Andrá Pető's Institute in Hungary was largely residential for its children – and their separation from families was generally an extreme one. There are still children whose access to Conductive Education removes them from home.
  • Then in the early days of the internationalisation of Conductive Education it was whole families who uprooted themselves. This too still happens.
  • One reason that this is far less common now is that the tide soon started flowing in the opposite direction, It was conductors who left home to live and work, and often to settle, in unfamiliar places far from home. And not just Hungarian conductors, by a long chalk.
But however settled one may become in a new, there may always remain the problem of loved ones left behind. And as life goes on, and everyone grows older, then paradoxically those problems may increase.

Between 1986 and 1990 Ralph Strzałkowski experienced something of the childhood separation of being a pupil at the Pető Institute. Now he is living and working in the USA, while his parents remain in Poland –
...when the news first broke, I was even a bit afraid to open my email or look at my phone in the morning. You want to put it off for a bit, not face the day and what it throws at you just yet. I know it's silly. But sometimes I like having that extra five minutes of not knowing, before I compose myself. I know it's there's some news. I see my phone blinking. But before I go on I take a minute...

How many human dilemmas of separation must there be in the world of CE. Those of us who enjoy the luxury of involvement with Conductive Education close to home ought never to forget how lucky they have been.


Strzałkowski, R, (2014) A matter of the heart, Lawyer on Wheels, 24 February

Monday, 24 February 2014


Another golden theme

A long time ago, as Western families first began to discover Conductive Education, in different countries and in different ways a variety of factors came together to create situations in which children could experience conductive regimes in a variety of then still unfamiliar situations. Driving these innovations in conductive practice was not some explicitly argued a priori educational requirement, but the limited time and money that parents and carers could afford.

To define its own short-term placements of this kind the Pető Institute coined the rather odd term 'interval Conductive Education'. Whatever term is used, 'summer programs', 'camps', 'blocks' etc., for many people around the world intermittent provision has been the only experience of conductive pedagogy that they could afford.

Surprisingly then, there has been little published to describe such work, never mind theorise or evaluate it in terms of pedagogic changes and innovations required (if any). Nor has there been much public discussion of what bridging and follow-over requirements might be needed in the times between the intervals, or how this might be incorporated into families' wider and longitudinal upbringing and lifestyle requirements.

Without a communicable knowledge-base transmitted as part of a 'technical literature', it is hard to judge the status of such practice within individual conductors' 'technical tool kits'. Its appearance at around an arbitrary date of, say, 1990 marked practical departure from the general practice that Mária Hári had inherited and rightly or wrongly fought hard to preserve. Like the by then 'traditional' mode of service-delivery, which has been predominantly continuous and long-term, the new way of conductive working was not supported by elaboration of new theoretical insights of how the process works.


'More research is needed', as they say. An active R&D programme could certainly find some Interesting research questions about 'interval Conductive Education'. Some examples:
  • How much is there of it about?
  • What forms does it take (indeed, is there a definite 'it' or is the very category problematical)?
  • What are its perceived benefits and disadvantages, in what circumstances?
  • What might be its ideal principles (if any)?
  • What does 'intensive' mean?
  • Why do some families and young people stick with it and make it part of their lives over a period of years, while others drop out and look for something else?
  • How do some providing organisations manage to sustain a loyal, enthusiastic client- base over the years, while others do not?
  • What sorts of strategies have proved advantageous in helping service-users bridge the 'intervals' that are the defining feature of this service-delivery model, and ease the switchback, roller-coaster drop in performance sometimes reported during the times between interventions?
  • What are the detectable effects, positive and otherwise, of interval Conductive Education?
  • How might specific learning achieved on, say, a four-week summer block be understood and planned to have longer-lasting, self-sustaining effects within the lives of learners and their families?
Perhaps such basic questions have already been examined. Do please share where answers to questions such as these might be found. For starters, what would be a good entry point into 'the literature'?

Yewande's report

My mind was brought back to this topic by a nice personal report from someone who has experienced childhood-long interval Conductive Education, specifically annual 'summer camps' at the Pető Institute in Budapest, from the aged of seven to date (and hopes to continue in the future).

Yewande Akintelu-Omoniyi is a 22-year-old Londoner with cerebral palsy. Recently published on line is her own informal personal evaluation of interval Conductive Education. It is well worth a read:

Akintelu-Omoniyi, Y. (2014) Life with Conductive Education, Playing with Angels, 17 February

Yewande has been a member of VIPER (involving young disabled people in analysis, reporting and dissemination)

Saturday, 22 February 2014


Who needs them?
CE does

Ralph Strzałkowski has been 'in Conductive Education', and Conductive Education has been 'in Ralph Strzałkowski' since 1986. Only in most recent years, however, has he entered Conductive Education's tiny public arena. He has done so from a very different background, with very different credentials, from those 0f most who have walked CE's public stage.

Take your pick: he has cerebral palsy, and he experienced C0nductive Education as as child (at the World Famous, no less); he grew up in Eastern Europe, Poland, under Communism; he is a highly qualified professional, an attorney: he has successfully run the official obstacle course to win himself a right to live and work in the United States, where he lives a wholly new life. It should hardly be surprising therefore that he perceives things and then remarks upon them in ways that are not often explicitly stated in the public domain by those whose entry into Conductive Education has been through more usual routes.

Not like lawyers

A recent posting on his blog Lawyer on Wheels raises questions about the 'profession of conductor' as he has observed it operating in the United States. He compares it to his own situation, within his own profession of lawyer –

It appears as if a conductor, once he or she graduates from the [initial training] program is now fully formed and equipped with all the skills needed in the profession and is prepared to take on any challenge... I have no idea what it must be like to know everything you will ever need to know before you get started.

As an attorney in America I'm constantly required to take continuing education courses. Every few years I must report a certain amount of credits or else I'm in trouble. Some may say it's a way to make money off lawyers as those things are both mandatory and not very cheap, but I think it accomplishes a lot of other, positive things. It makes us constantly grow and learn. It exposes me to new areas, developments in ways and concepts that I don't think having me read about it or researching it would. Often it teaches me some practical skill...

I can't think of a profession or a trade that would not benefit from networking. From swapping war stories. From learning that were you've been others were before you. Maybe sharing some tips and hints....

In case you haven't guessed it already, I'm talking about conductors again. I don't quite get how they do what they do: They travel around the world, they often encounter cultures that are strange and foreign to them. They leave their homes and everything familiar and end up often in very intimate family settings. How lonely that must be, how isolating...

Conductors must take on a lot of expectation, of hope of joy, of struggle but also  of disappointment.

Of course this is a general statement that masks enormous individual variation, and it is not a unique observation – others both in and out of the conductor trade have been similarly concerned. This should not, however, detract from the uncomfortable message. In so far as this message has general validity, how much poorer are both conductors and the rest of us.

I do not know what in practice one might do about it. Anyway, it is not my problem.

Black sheep

For a start, though, it woud be functional if problems as big as this one could be aired more regularly. Each of the factors in Ralph's background that I mentioned above brings to the table of Conductive Education fresh reference points and expectations. It is heathy that the world of Conductive Education should be more diverse, less of a monoculture.

CE needs its black sheep. After all, it was founded by one!

Perhaps other black sheep will emerge. Let us hope so. Make them welcome.


Strzałkowski, R. (2014) Continuing Education, Lawyer on Wheels, 16 February

Friday, 21 February 2014


What is conductive upbringing?
A few more published resources now

For some reason a five-year-old item from Conductive World has bobbed up as being a most frequently visited posting over the last month:

Sutton, A. (2010) What does 'upbringing' mean? Conductive World, 31 January

I have been back and corrected typos and layout. Substantively, however, the document seems to stand.

Change over the last five years?
  • My feeling is that more conductors begin to see themselves explicitly in the business of upbringing rather than just pedagogy but I cannot concretise this (it would be wonderful if somebody else would try to confirm or refute this). On the other hand, there remains a considerable public understanding that sees Conductive Education as a kind of 'therapy' – not even pedagogy – a long, long way removed from upbringing.
  • Susie Mallett has continued to describe and develop conductive upbringing practice through her two blogs, and gone on to elaborate the notion of conductive lifestyle ( and
  • Through her Conductor Nürnberg Press she has also published three relevant resource books, Let me tell you a story, It came like a bolt from the blue, and George's Travelogues.
  • Conductive Education Press too has published two resource books offering insights from within various conductive upbringings and lifestyles, Intelligent Love and Never, Never Quit.
These are small changes in themselves but perhaps they are signal that five years down the line the question 'What is conductive upbringing?' is ready to be addressed anew, now from within the world of Conductive Education itself.

Perhaps accumulation of descriptions of what is experienced as happening within conductive upbringings (and lifestyles), from the perspectives of those directly involved in such transactions, might prove heuristic to further innovation in practice, and to raising hypotheses for the analytic attention still needed here.

Here is one obvious hypothesis: the specifics of conductive pedagogy may be a very good thing but, without their being applied within a framework of conductive upbringing (lifestyle), they are reductionist and therefore limited in their potential outcome. This is hardly a radically original suggestion: I have heard it expressed so many times and in so many ways over the years, in so many voices, but it has massive implications for provision, training and research. Five years on, can the world of Conductive Education yet face these?

Meanwhile, to play it again:

Thursday, 20 February 2014


Against myth and teleology

An informal thread of postings on Conductive World has sought to colour in a little of András Pető's circumstances in Budapest during the months of the Arrow Cross (Hungarian Fascist) rule in Budapest and the Siege.

This thread commenced in September 2013 and finished in February 2014. Including the present posting, it comprises six postings.


Sutton, A. (2013) András Pető: a close brush with destiny – I, Conductive World, 24 September
Miklós Kun shelters András Pető in Red Cross Children's Home in Buda – convinces Arrow Cross to abandon an Action in which András Pető might have been murdered.
Sutton, A. (2013) András Pető: a close brush with destiny – II, Conductive World, 26 September
How the Arrow Cross behaved in Jewish children's homes – and CE's debt to Miklós Kun – forcoming film set in the Siege
Sutton, A. (2013) A story from history. Stories from prehistory. Mythogenesis, Conductive World, 28 December

From the myth of András Pető – Jews and Fascists in Budapest that winter – Hungary, Germany and the War – who needs myth?
Sutton, A. (2014) András Pető – one day in history, 4 February 1945, Conductive World, 4 February
Probably still in Buda – liberation – what might András Pető have been thinking?
Sutton, A. (2014) András Pető: a terrible night, 11 February 1945, Conductive World, 11 February
The night of the break-out – 'one of the most futile enterprises of the Second World War'
Sutton, A. (2014) Der Krieg ist aus, 14 February 1945: Stunde Null, 14 February
Hostilities are over – our survives – what future now for András Pető?
Sutton, A. (2014) András Pető 1944-5: round up. Against teleology, Conductive World, 21 February
Brief summary of this thread – the still limited history of András Pető

I am in no position to discover anything new from primary sources. I can at best scratch around amongst what is already publicly known. Others of course are more favourably placed: it will have to await their efforts to unearth what is potentially knowable on such matters.

I am left with serendipity amongst personally available written records, on paper and line, at best secondary sources. The story of AP deserves primary-source investigation.

My very limited historical method does, however, appear to offer a more plausible impression than does that provided by Conductive Education's scant hagiography. It might be useful to direct this method direct it to a couple of other known turning points in the life of András Pető, specifically 1911 and 1938-9, to see whether, limited though it is, it could shed just a little extra light into those corners of his mysterious tale.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014


Mind and body
News to some

I have been watching BBC iPlayer on my computer, specifically last night's Horizon programme, 'The power of the placebo'.

As might be expected there was a lot of high-tech medical apparatus, and lots of talk about brains. If I were hyper-critical I could also see a strong underlying tendency to reduce and biologise almost every aspect of the discussion, even when it concerned the most explicitly psycho-social. No matter, though there were no great conceptual surprises the actual material was fascinating at every human level.

For conductivists, there was an interesting six-minute sequence half-way through (30 to 36 minutes) on the effect of placebo on dopamine release.


Fear and hope were acknowledged as active factors in treatment processes (I may have missed it but I do not think that the word nocebo raised its head – pity). But this is hardly sufficient, surely, without due attention to effects and mechanisms that are just as material, within and above the dimensions of just brain chemistry. Never mind, perhaps the most telling higher-order effect of all was mentioned, if only as an aside –
Scientists are beginning to wonder...
Now in a world of often reductionist medical research that is a considerable effect by any measure. Indeed, by the end of the programme it was being wondered how it could be that placebos can still work even if patients are explicitly told that they are receiving mere sugar pills. By way of explanation for this the hardly revolutionary suggestion was made that there is –
...something in the relationship between practitioner and patient that permits a placebo effect without deception.
Or, as it was put more succinctly (and rather naively) –
It's just about being nice.
It was also nice to see the puzzles of hypnosis and acupuncture also being tied into questions raised here.

All this may seem a long way round to get to where many may have started out in the first place, and one must not forget the (I hope well-known) caution about love and intelligent love. All the same, it is nice that some researchers – and medical documentary-makers – are setting off on the long road to a (dare I say it?) more holistic vision of medical practice round. It will be very nice to meet them on that road some day.

We could have been spared the breathlessly reverential tone of the commentary, not least because the doctors involved seemed nice people who treated their patients with humanity and decent respect.

Ultimately, 'science' means 'knowing'. There is such a lot to find out and so many ways of finding it. And the kind of knowing and finding out shown on programmes like Horizon, can write only part of the story – but they do make for entertaining popular-science television.


-- (2014) The power of the placebo (TV documentary), BBC2, 17 February
First shown in England on 17 February. It will stay available on line on BBC iPlayer for two weeks. Duration: one hour.

Three short clips to give a flavour:

You might find that BBC iPlayer is not available in your country. Sorry.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


20-25% discount on all books from CEP
Chance to stock up

Offer lasts till Monday 24 February

Choose from complete range:

20% off orders of any one or two books
Discount code

25% off orders for three or more copies.
Discount code

Chose your books here, offer open till Monday 24 February:

Recent reviews

All books from Conductive Education Press are published in English. Here are two reviews written in German and Hungarian

Never, never quit by Ralph Strzałkowski

Um es kurz zu machen: das Buch ist eine Fundgrube für alle, die sich für die Konduktive Förderung interessieren! Wenige der erwachsenen Köperbehinderten erzählen davon, wie es ihnen mit  Konduktiver Förderung ergangen ist. Ralph Strzałkowski wirft in diesem Band „Niemals, niemals aufgeben“ ein einzigartiges Licht auf die Konduktive Förderung – wie er sie als Kind erlebt hat, wie er sie heute als Erwachsener reflektiert.  Seine Erinnerungen beschäftigen sich mit Schmerzen, die er durch die Beinschienen beim Laufen hatte; mit der Rolle der Konduktoren am Petö Institut, mit ihrer Wärme im Gegensatz zu konventionellen Therapeuten, aber auch mit ihrer manchmal widersprüchlichen Erziehung zur Unabhängigkeit. Er beschreibt, was der Rollstuhl für seine Unabhängigkeit bedeutete. Häufig sind seine Eltern Thema und man darf sich getrost darin gespiegelt sehen, denn sie sind Beispiel für viele Eltern behinderter Kinder. Über vieles muss man lachen, zum Beispiel darüber, dass der Vater den Sohn nach seinem ersten Tag am Petöinstitut mit den Worten empfing: „Und – haben sie dir laufen beigebracht?“, um dann festzustellen, dass man diesen Vater so gut verstehen kann!

Reviewed by Ruth Dürr:

Quotationary of András Pető and his Conductive Education

A szerzők, Gillian Maguire és Andrew Sutton az 2012-ben megjelent András Pető (Pető Studies, Birmingham, Conductive Education Press, ISBN 978-0-9569948-4-4) címü könyvük kiegészítésének tekintik a gyüjteményt. és ajánlják Mindenkinek, aki érdeklődik a conductively nevelés és a conductively PEDAGOGIA iránt, illetve többet szeretne tudni Pető Andrásról.

A könyv igazi kincstára idézeteknek, gondolatoknak elöadásokhoz, írásbeli munkákhoz, cikkekhez, de inspiráció útkeresőknek és szórakoztató olvasmány is.

Több mint Harminc témacsoport segíti a tájékozódást, forrásmüvek Részletes listája és több idézett személy rövid biográfiai adatai adnak támpontot és és motiválnak További kutatáshoz olvasmányokhoz.

Reviewed by Krisztina Desitz:


Desitz, K. (2014) Review of Quotationary of András Pető and his Conductive Education, The Conductive Post, 14 February

Dürr, R. (2014) Review of Never, Never Quit, by Ralph Strzałkowski, The Conductive Post, 14 January

Conductive Education Press


Ivan Fischer

Well balanced feature in the current Europe's Troublemakers series on BBC Radio 4, a fifteen-minute radio feature from Lucy Ash –
In Hungary, she meets Ivan Fischer  the conductor and composer who is holding up a mirror to Hungarian society and using culture to expose growing racial intolerance. The success of the extreme right wing party Jobbik in the 2010 elections prompted him to write an opera denouncing anti-Semitism. Fischer's opera, The Red Heifer draws on an incident 130 years ago when a young girl went missing in a village in North East Hungary. Local Jews were accused of murdering the 14-year-old and were eventually acquitted but blood libel stories such as these still resonate more than a century later. But some have accused Fischer of cultural politicking and say he is in danger of besmirching the country's image abroad. Lucy catches up with the composer as he rehearses for his next performance.
Hear it at:

I thought that Ivan Fischer spoke more fairly and level-mindedly about the whole business than I have heard from anyone, in or out of Hungary. I really warmed to him.

My gratitude to my Radio 4-listening correspondent who drew this to my attention.

Monday, 17 February 2014


Conductors and other staff lose jobs
Parents not informed
Maybe staff can rescue something...

CPC Kent closed this weekend, apparently with short notice and no proper arrangements for clients and staff.

Lynne Cox reports –
Four specialist education conductors and the fundraising staff are now without jobs. Conductor Agie Burley, 40, claimed they were left in the dark about the charity’s situation.
She said: 'The manager resigned in December and then our chairman, Jan Dennis, left in January. We continued to work and got paid that month, but then during the first week in February we got an email from trustees to say there was no more work. It’s the children who are going to miss out. No one had told the parents. We had to tell them what had happened, they were devastated. We have received so many heartbreaking letters.'
Mrs Burley and her colleagues have vowed to try to provide some sessions for youngsters during the summer holidays and on Saturdays if they can find another building to operate from.
Mrs Burley said: 'We provide a unique service of conductive education, which is sought after all over the world. We would love to continue our work, but we will need to find a place for free or for a moderate charge for Saturdays and school holiday times to start with and get some funds to cover the charge of the conductors. This would allow us to continue helping our families.'
If you know a suitable venue the staff can use for free or a minimal cost, call Mrs Burley on 07837562633.
It is the way of life that some services will come to an end. How this example is reported to have happened looks like an object lesson in how not to do such things. Prudent surely in 2014 to maintain contingency plans for the worst of all possible institutional outcomes, with especial attention to users and workers.
Smiley Steps Centre as was
Cox, L. (2014) Devastated as Medway children's charity CPC Kent closes after 30 years, Medway Messenger, 17 February


The old order changeth

Júlia Horváth writes around –
The time has come: Due to reasons out of my control, which might be familiar to you, I will retire and, after 47 years, leave intensive professional activity behind from February 2014...
Until the next elections I am planning to continue my work in the International Pető Association...
I will always be pleased to give you assistance and advice if you contact me – as a private person from now on. I hope that our contact will remain... in researches, practical issues and in theoretical publications...
Júlia will be contactable in future at 

As Frank, and Elvis, and the Sex Pistols, and so many others have sung –
And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I'll say it clear
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain
I've lived a life that's full
I travelled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way.
Take your pick:


Welcome, Júli, to the growing ranks of CE's superannuated, and discover the life and liberation that lie beyond the day job.

Friday, 14 February 2014


Festival of lanterns

Chinese New Year celebrations finish with the Festival of Lanterns, on the 15th day of the first lunar month of the year.

Time for a quick round-up

A couple of weeks ago Conductive World boldly announced that it would soon be the Chinese New Lunar Year, to mark which it would be posting a few 'Chinese' items. This was bold since I had no idea where these might come from. In the event, the following postings have appeared:

28 January
China: five years back

30 January
Today is New Year's Eve

31 January
Happy Year of the Horse

2 February
Lots of people like Chinese food

3 February
China: Oh cripes!

7 February
Researching Oriental Conductive Education

10 February
A conductive organisation

13 February
Wisdom of the Orient?

14 February

Nine random topics in just over 15 days, enough I hope for present purposes, to indicate again that there is another world out there. Finding these nine was simple, mainly serendipity, keeping an eye open
  • one personal enquiry
  • a dip into Google
  • a rummage in an old box
Seek, and ye shall find.

One last horse for now

The most visited posting in this crop so far has been 'A conductive organisation', to which Norman Perrin has posted a heartfelt Comment.

What he wrote reminded me forceably what different worlds we live and work in, East and West. What pluses and minuses. Here is a Western aphorism, mathematically expressed, not of course a universal principle:

h → w ≠ d


h = horse
w= water
d = drink

Whatever distinctions there might be made between modern-day Western and Oriental Conductive Education, it may be on this dimension that we in the West could find most to consider.

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