Tuesday, 29 April 2014


CE knowable and known

Gill Maguire has published a further item in her regular series of updates on new publications available through Conduction's Virtual CE Library 
Another 19 items have been added to the catalogue making a total of 484 entries. Included this time is a good mixture of journal articles, a book review, website articles, conference papers, school reports and newspaper articles.
The previous such update was 16 March:

The virtual Library works by linking to materials now published on line, most of them free but many of the academic ones subject to the usual charge. Conductive Education still suffers from a deplorably thin literature on the core knowledge of conductive pedagogy. Increasingly, however, wider topics are accessibly documented. What with the ever-growing Internet, and Gill's ever-growing indexing system to what it offers on and around Conductive Education, this could potentially be the best informed generation yet on the subject of CE.

If not, why not? Where is the weak link in the chain?


Maguire, G. (2014) New additions to the Virtual Library Catalogue, Conductive Education Information, 28 April

Monday, 28 April 2014


But is there any choice?

I have just seen notified on Facebook about a newspaper report and a YouTube video of the recent visit of HRH Princess Ursula of Bavaria to the conductive day centre in Niederpöcking, south of Munich, accompanied by Fr. Karin Seehofer, Bavaria's 'First Lady':


Yes, Germany is still a republic, and so are its constituent parts. It still has local royalty, however, and charities there as elsewhere still believe that their presence cuts ice. Perhaps it does, perhaps it does not. If you run a charity it is probably just as well to act on the safe side if you have the option.

I know. I have sinned. Watching the video from Niederpöcking brought back some uncomfortable memories: another Princess in another world.

A PR coup for Peter von Quadt and his associates. A weapon in the continual struggle for public awareness and esteem, political and corporate support, and CE's inexorable need for money, money, money to pay the salaries, and the bills, and any new buildings.

If this is helped by the attention of a Royal Princess, even in a republic, then so be it. Funnier things happen at sea, and public esteem is one of the seas in which CE sinks or swims. Perhaps it always has...

András Pető

After all, is what one sees in this modern German video qualitatively all that different from the sort of thing that András Pető did to soften up political sympathy and support, visits from Party big-wigs (even though the songs were different)?

Tamás Verkerdy was a psychologist who had been introduced to András Pető by the writer Sándor Tőrők. Many years later, in the year 2000, on Hungarian television Tamás Verkerdy told 
...he made the children roll over to Labour Movement songs. They loved this at the Party Central Committee. As some of the comrades' children had been healed by him he invited them over to the Institute. Pető couldn't care less what the children were singing but he knew that this will be a stunner for the comrades. Pető was nuts like this...
Szászadforditó magyarok – Pető
He was softening them up for having his Institute moved out from under the Health Ministry, into the Ministry of Education.

Sunday, 27 April 2014


The Russian trade – III

If the last few weeks' events show anything it is that, even though you need no longer expect the Spanish Inquisition, you should certainly never forget Russia!

With respect to China, the diversifying world of Conductive Education features a major and undeniable division between Western and Oriental Conductive Educations, raising some important questions that few seems keen to address. A further important question for the future development of Conductive Education might be whether Conductive Education might also develop in its own ways in the lands of the former Soviet Union to become more than just another manifestation of the ever-more disconnected international practice outside Hungary – with a third major disconnected strain's mutating and developing in Russia and its 'near abroad'.

At one time everything seemed so simple:
  • Conductive Education was Hungarian
  • Hungary was behind the Iron Curtain
  • Hungarian was therefore Communist
  • ergo, so was Conductive Education
  • according to preference and prejudice, one could then speak of Vygotskii and Luriya, repetition and regimentation etc. etc., and make other assumptions too
Each of the above points is at least problematical and open to discussion. So one should not be surprised that, with the exception of some patchy activity in Poland, CE had not been 'taken up' in the territories of then former Soviet Union and the former 'fraternal republics' as it has been in various countries of the West.

But the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States – the lands of the former Soviet Union) is a big, big place. There area lot of people there, a lot of money, some very different social contexts, and a lot of crying need. In so far as I know it, knowledge of CE and concrete contact with it is scattered and disparate. The following instances come to mind.
  • There was just a little a academic contact between the Soviet Union and the then State Institute (now Pető Institute) in the days of Socialism. In the mid seventies an explanatory visit was made to the State Institute in Budapest on behalf of the Institute of defectology in Moscow, reported in the journal Defectologiya. In the early eighties Maria Hari gave a presentation at an international conference in the city of Suzdal', and published an article in an important Soviet medical journal. Neither appears to have been followed up and Soviet defectology appears to have take no subsequent interest in conductive pedagogy. Nor has Conductive Education taken interest in defectology.
  • A Russian translation of Dina was published in Moscow after the fall of Communism. The publishing house that produced it, Uliss, appears to have vanished without trace.
  • One article about Conductive Education in the West appears to have been published in Russian, and a short German book (Annette Fink's) has been translated.
  • The CIS appears to have been largely spared the 'principles of Conductive Education'.
  • Two separate groups of Russians were trained as conductors at the Pető Institute, in the nineteen-nineties (on non-state funding). After qualification they went their ways, and a few are still working as conductors is such contexts and in such ways as they can, in Russia, in Western Europe or North America. There appear to be no conductive groups staffed by a group of conductors.
  • A few years ago Moira had a training scheme going with a rehabilitation centre in the Komi republic in the Arctic Circle.
  • There was talk a few years back of establishing a centre in Moscow for conductive children's services and professional training, but there has been no recent word of this.
  • Russian conductors have not published, and Russian work, wherever undertaken, appears not to have been presented at CE conferences/congresses. There is no known programme of academic involvement.
  • Families who can afford and arrange to have found ways take their children to specially composed Russian groups at the Pető Institute in Budapest.
  • This has been enough for health-tourism companies to be involved.
  • There is extensive Internet activity from parents on chat rooms but no sign spotted yet of conductive blogging.
  • No sign either of the emergence of a co-ordination movement, associations for example.
  • The interest shown has been predominantly in children with cerebral palsy.
  • The CIS has the advantage of pedagogy in its cultures (and defectology too), which should greatly advantage understanding CE over attempts to understand it in the West, professional and public. The notion of conductive upbringing seems yet to arrive.
  • No doubt there is much else too to mention too.
  • Little or none of the above seems connected
I am very aware that the above impressions are personal and fleeting and may not be at all representative.

Приглашение – Invitation

I should be delighted if people would write in and correct or augment what is noted above.

Indeed, I am happy to extend an offer to anyone who would like to write a substantiated overview of aspects of conductive pedagogy in Russia or the wider CIS. If you have something to report or to say, in whatever language, then please do so and I shall help you publish it on line.

Divergence or convergence 

A perennial question of the old field of Soviet studies was 'Are Soviet and Western economies (political systems etc.) converging,or diverging? Well, 'Are are present-day Russian and Western Conductive Education systems converging, or diverging? One might open a seminar on this question with a list or (uncertain) facts such as I have presented above... 

From these one might consider that the situation of Conductive Education in the former Soviet Union is not all that different from that of Conductive Education in the West, though perhaps rather reminiscence in some respects of the Western scene some years ago. Or one might be left wondering whether geopolitical reality will combine with specifically national features (otechestvennye) within the territory of the CIS for something new and distinctive yet to arise.


Hári, M. (1981) Presentation to the Symposium of the Socialist Countries on Child Neurology, Suzdal’, 5-6 October 1981 [English translation, with a short English commentary, in ‘Out East’, Chapter 5 of G. Maguire and Andrew Sutton (eds.) (2004), Mária Hári on conductive pedagogy, Birmingham, Foundation for Conductive Education, pp.73-80]

Hári. M. (1982) Meтoд кондyтивнoгo воспитания и eгo poль в coцильной адипций детей c церебрльными праличaми, Журнал невропaтологии и псхиаитpии им. Корсаковa, 82/10, pp. 1501-1510

O'Hare, J. (2002) Deputy Director of St Petersburg Early Intervention Institute on fact-finding visit to Birmingham..., Russian London, 23 October

Semenova, K., Mastyukova, E. (1974) O кондyтивнoм воспитании детей c церебрльными праличaми в Венгрской Народной Реcпублике, Дeфектология, 2, pp. 93-95

Sutton, A. (2013) From Komi with love, Conductive World, 27 March

Friday, 25 April 2014


Academic standards, accreditation in doubt

The Hungarian Election is done, though the victors have still to form a new government. Politics, micro- and micro- continue. After a long silence – since just before Christmas – the Pető Institute football is now back in the political arena.

This morning the social-democrat newspaper Népszava has kicked off with a serious revelation that, if the Hungarian media acts as it has over this matter as it has in the past, will soon be rehashed across the print and broadcasting press.

As far as I can see the following are the cardinal points in Népszava's report. Whether substantiated or not, they could directly affect the reputation and status of conductors and Conductive Education worldwide.
Népszava has learned that MPANNI (the Pető Institute) is at risk of losing its higher education accreditation, having been unable to meet professional expectations. Last year a closed session of the Hungarian Accreditation Council concluded that MPANNI's conductor-training does not meet academic requirements on a number of points and is permitted to continue only on condition of organisational development close quality-control. The Accreditation Council has been delaying its decision and keeps taking a report-back off its regular agenda as changes so far are insufficient to merit an academic degree. Problems include lack of theoretical base, research methodology and academic standards, professional outcomes and duly qualified teaching staff. Matters are deteriorating, with gaps in important areas of the curriculum. Népszava also publishes in full a report by Franz Schaffhauser, Rector of the Pető Institute. All this impacts upon funding and bringing the institution under direct state supervision.

The newspaper also mentions – for the first time in the Hungarian media as far as I am aware, that these concerns are shared outside Hungary – 'the elephant in the china shop', the newspaper concludes.

Please do not accept the above summary as canonical, my Hungarian and my knowledge of Hungarian institutions are not enough to make an authoritative account. If you want to know more but do not understand Hungarian and Hungarian institutions, sit down with a Magyar and ask to have the documents referred to here explained.

If you do understand all this better than I, then please comment, either below this posting or on Facebook.

Here and on Facebook Conductive World will continue to update...


– (2014) Megint bajban a Peto Intezét, Népsava 25 April 

Schaffhauser, F. (2014) Szakmai program a második rektori ciklusra

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


Including Magyar wheels

Till this last few weeks few outside Central/Eastern Europe (precisely which term applies here is the $64,000 question) will have granted much attention to the Ukraine, and fewer still to questions of who live in the East of that country. But what about Western Ukraine?

Nothing in that part of the world is simple, and Western Ukraine is as complex as anywhere in those parts. At its simplest, left over from the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the 1919 Treaty of Trianon, a sizeable Hungarian minority lives within the territory of Ukraine, in Zakarpatia (Transcarpathia, 'the land beyond the Carpathians', and various other names according to language and politics). The Second Word War stirred things up but the basic situation prevailed and following the War the Soviet Bloc kept the lid on any problems arising. The Ukrainian Hungarians achieved certain rights for education, culture and language – and after the break-up of the Soviet Union surely things could only get better in the new independent, democratic Ukraine...

They haven't. The Ukraine does not permit its citizens dual nationality, while the present Hungarian Government actively encourages Hungarians living beyond its borders to take Hungarian citizenship. And the new Ukrainian regime in Kiev has decreed that all education in the Ukraine now has to be in Ukrainian. And that's the simple story. Alongside the Hungarians Zakarpatia has another minority, the Rusins (Ruthenes or Carpatho-Russians) who, according to your preferred anthropology, can be counted as kind of Ukrainian, or kind of Russian. Hungary and some other Central European countries recognise Rusins as an official minority group, Ukraine does not. Then there are the Lemkos... who they?

All very charming, folkloric and Ruritanian, as long as everybody continues to behave in the best possible taste – not dressing up in uniforms and occupying public buildings.

Meanwhile, as they say, 'tensions mount'. 

Read more

 (2014) Hungarians, Rusyns in Zakarpatie afraid of forced Ukrainization, Voice of Russia, 23 April

Monday, 21 April 2014


Closing date now extended to 21 April

Norman Perrin is retiring as Chief Executive of Paces Sheffield.

His job has been advertised in the Guardian newspaper. The formal closing date for applications has now passed but I have been advised that it has now been extended, to Monday 21 April.

The salary is stated as £55,000 to £60,000 a year. If you are interested in learning more, an extensive information pack is available:
  • a letter from John Biggin who chairs the Trustees of Paces
  • an eight-page Candidate Brief for the position of Chief Executive
  • a ten-page document on the work of Paces Sheffield
  • a 'diversity questionnaire'.
Paces' vision is to be –
A world class institution for the practice of, training in, and research into conductive education serving children and adults with cerebral palsy and their families

This recruitment is contracted to recruitment agency Brophy McPaul in Chester. For further information, and the information pack, contact Bryan McPaul:


Trade with Russia – II

Over the weekend I have stumbled upon an unfamiliar Russian word, one altogether new to me – кондуктолог  (konduktolog):

I have been using my new word to look again into the growing Russian-language CE Internet.

The Russian word konduktolog can be transferred easily into English by coining a new English equivalent 'conductologist'. There is already an English-language field 'thermal conductology'. Never mind. I see no reason to suspect that, in the context of CE, the Russian word konduktolog should imply anything wider than the word konduktor, nor that my own neologism should mean anything different from the existing English word 'conductor'. To me, at the present stage of historical development, substantively a conductor is a conductor is a conductor.

I am not the only one to think this. The word divides. Conductor Aleksei Mikhailovich has written on a Russian-language online forum –
I am a conductor, not a conductologist, one of those those sent to Hungary in the mid-90s to study... I am a conductor working with cerebral palsy and epilepsy to this day. If anyone has questions about the treatment than I can help. Write ...

I suspect that there are others who might feel the same, and not just in Russia.

The longer word does seem, however, to be gaining ground. In Moscow, Globus is (?) another Russian company that arranges visits for Russian families to attend the Pető Institute in Budapest:


Conductor Elena Horváth co-fronts Globus's online advertisement to parents, which chooses the word konduktolog rather than the simple konduktor to describe what families might experience at the Pető Institute – in a write-up remarkably similar to the online advertisement from the Hungarian Medical Center, quoted on the previous posting on Conductive World.

There is plenty more on line using this word to denote conductors, both those working in Russia and when describing the work of the Pető Institute in Budapest, for example:

The 'Atlant' Rehabilitation Centre in Kazan' boasts a kondukolog:

Parent Galla Mishchenko uses the word to report her recent stay at the PAI:

Another parental PAI report, from S. V. Barbaris:

and so on, and on. The above examples should be enough to convey the drift.

And by the way, one also finds the term кондуктолог-психолог – konducktolog-psikholog, 'conductologist-psychologist':

This term sounds even more impressive than konductor-psikholog but is it any more that personal and/or commercial bullshitting? For want of any reason to think otherwise, I suspect that this term too means no more that just 'conductor'.

Historical trends

It is interesting  by the way to read along the way so many parental reports from Russia on visits to the Pető Institute. Such reports (not on line of course in earlier days) used to be an important feature of the explosion of interest in CE in Western countries in the late eighties and early nineties of the last century. Nobody in the West writes such reports nowadays, on conductive experiences anywhere, other that the occasional and usually fleeting mention on a blog.

Is there a 'natural history', a historical trend, being played out here? If so, on the basis of Western experience, what has Russian CE got coming next.

And what about the continuing development of Conductive Education in the West. Does the word 'conductology' say anything to us about this?

Friday, 18 April 2014


Trade with Russia  I

'Health tourism' is big business worldwide and one way to think of the internationalisation of Conductive Education phenomenon is, at least partly, in terms of this. In Hungary the work of the Pető Institute today is not merely a matter of providing for some Hungarian children (and a few adults) with motor disorders; it is also a part of the country's health tourism economy i.

Hungary's trade in Conductive Education with Western nations has by the very nature of their societies has been unstructured, fragmentary and subject to irresistible competition from individual parents and institutions, and independent conductors. Looking eastwards, however, despite the existence of a potential core of already trained Russia conductors, the countries of the former Soviet Union (the CIS, the Commonwealth of Independent States) have not experienced a similar scattering of spontaneously created, local conductive services.

In contrast, for some years now the Pető Institute in Budapest has hosted a steady stream of children and their parents from the territories of the CIS in its long-standing 'Russian groups'. This trade has been organised in a commercial way that would hardly be possible in the context of Western countries – though it is possibly rather more closely to how authorities in Hungary might have preferred things to have been everywhere ever since CE became a possible commercial product at the end of the nineteen-eighties.

Over the years there has been no contact between the activities around Conductive Education in the Western nations and in the CIS. This implies no Cold War or Iron Curtain, being probably no more than yet another, particular example of the isolation, failed communication and anomie within the fragmenting world of Conductive Education.

An advertisement

The Hungarian Medical Center [American-English name in the original] displays the following online Russian-language advertisement, renered here in loose English translation –

Conductive pedagogy at the Prof A. Pető Institute

Within the territory of the Commonwealth of Independent States the company Hungarian Medical Center and its associates will assist parents with children wishing to undertake conductive pedagogy with travel arrangements. Classes may be held in already-assembled groups and individually, which is significantly reflected in the result.

The purpose of the conductive pedagogy method is the harmonious, integrated and interconnected development a child's movement functions (motorics), cognitive abilities, and the emotional and social skills necessary for everyday life and intellectual level.

Specialist conductologists ii create all the conditions necessary for the children freely to fulfil the tasks presented, with motivation thoroughly utilised as inducement to action.

The most important task of rehabilitation courses in conductive pedagogy is the simultaneous, maximal restoration of the organism's damaged functions, through the complex development of the child's whole personality. Such a program is aimed not only towards developing motor functions but also teaching children self-help skills, language development, and mental abilities .

Institute of conductive pedagogy

After undergoing a course of conductive pedagogy, children have usually improved significantly in their physical condition, they have better coordinated movements, and have formed more developed speech. For all children, there there is noted increase in mobility, coordination and self-help skills, and children also learn to use knife and fork and spoon on their own.

Furthermore, there is a significant improvement in attention and self-control. Self-possession appears, the children often consciously show motivation in their movements and feel confident in their abilities.

An important component of conductive pedagogy is teaching parents basics for developing their child further at home. Complying with all the specialist conductologist's recommendations plays a major role in shaping the child's future skills. One must understand that conductive pedagogy is not a temporary process – it is a way of life.

Conductive pedagogy is an especially integrated process of teaching and learning, worked out in such a way as to affect all the functions of a human organism with damage to the central nervous system. The tools of conductive pedagogy tools are complex programs tailored to the child's age and reflecting the nature and rhythm of life of non-disabled children (including their physical, mental and social needs).

The conductive pedagogy method was developed by Professor András Pető . He became one of the first to consider damage to the central nervous system, not as a disease but as a particular kind of problem in teaching and learning iii.

As with non-disabled children, children with CNS damage develop through the process of teaching and learning, the difference being only that the condition makes the condition makes the formation of motor functions significantly harder.

The method of Conductive Education applies in the following cases:
  • children with cerebral palsy
  • development of children with motor delay (starting at 6 months of age ) .
Conductive pedagogy provides the possibility of achieving good results not only in childhood but also in in the rehabilitation of adults:
  • recovery of motor function after spinal and brain injuries;
  • rehabilitation of adults with CNS disorders, post-insult (hemiplegia, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, ataxia)
The Hungarian Medical Centre's associates in your own country will arrange your trip to Hungary for group or individual sessions of conductive pedagogy from start to finish. To find out the cost and get an answer from a specialist conductologist, fill in the form below, specifying in detail the child's condition.


The above text and its attached form suggest a society and culture with a rather rather more sophisticated understanding of human development, its anomalies and what might be done about these, than is general amongst lay and professional people in for example the United Kingdom.

i    The notion of a Hungarikum originated as a marketing device to promote Hungarian exports.
ii    кондуктологи – konduktologi
iii   обучениe – obuchenie


Hungarian Medical Center (2014) Кондуктивная педагогика в Институте проф. А.Петё

Friday, 11 April 2014



I have recently had to to read some pieces of pretty awful native-speaker English – and found myself staring aghast into what lies beneath. I was reading from professional-academic and corporate-managerialist fields. The malaise (as I experience it) is wider, and I am hardly the only one who baulks at it.

In the context of politics and public life, in yesterday's Times David Aaronovich invoked George Orwell –
Orwell's charge was that bad thinking and bad writing are inextricably linked. 'A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure,' he wrote, 'and then fail all the more completely because he drinks.' The same was true for language. 'It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.'
And [Orwell] went on to give some examples of the worst kind of writing, before showing how certain habits distorted or, just as often, obscured meaning. These habits would include the use of stale imagery, the replacement of concrete expressions with abstract ones, the deployment of long technical words instead of simpler ones and the use of phrases that are 'tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse'.
The specific occasion for Mr Aaronovich's article was the text of a recent open letter to the Guardian newspaper by nineteen left-wing (leftist?) worthies.
Orwell's point applies here. When you write this badly, when you are so unclear that even experts in your field cannot decipher your intention, there is a reason for it. It could of course simply be that you are an idiot. But two other explanations are more likely: either that you don't really know what you mean yourself; or that you do know but you'd rather not spell it out.

I know what he means. On the whole the sort of stuff that I have been reading is not written by idiots: they have been through the education system (perhaps not the most sterling test) and are managing well enough in their careers to be able to publish this stuff, So, either they don't really know what they talking about, or they are wilfully trying to pull the wool over my eyes. Or as likely, both.

Orwell's essay on the politics of language was first published in 1946. Looking back, its central message once just seemed part of the culture. Last year, Penguin republished it and I was disappointed to find parts of his argument rather unconvincing, and his own use of language not always of the best (though perhaps that rather confirms his point!). Even so, reading official and academic documents on for example 'special educational needs', or the pronouncements of corporate management, I sometimes just do not understand what is being said, and I think of Orwell, thus –
Orthodoxy of whatever colour seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style (p. 13)...

Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one's own habits... (p. 20)

This is a matter not solely of language in the service of politics. I think guiltily of some of my own linguistic sins committed in the name of Conductive Education, and I hope that others will do so too, of theirs.


Aaronovich, D. (2012) Orwell would loath this leftie gobbledegook, The Times, 10 April, p. 29

Orwell, G. (2013) Politics and the English Language, London, Penguin Books

Thursday, 10 April 2014


We so nearly never knew her

Here's a little story that Mária Hári told me, a very long time ago. I did not take notes and memory is beginning to fade with time.

It refers to an experience of hers during the War. When I heard it, I did not then know enough to ask relevant questions so I just let her tell me as it came out.

I do not therefore know more exactly the date at which this happened, or where – or who 'they' were.

Mária had been born in 1923 into a prosperous family, with a grand house in Buda behind where the Hotel Budapest now stands. Her father was a banker. He was Jewish, her mother was not. This made her a 'half-Jew'. This may not have been easy for her in the social climate in which she grew up but it became actively dangerous after the German take-over of Hungary in 1944. She was Jewish enough to merit extermination under the suddenly worsening regime.

I gather that Mária's father went to Switzerland while he still could, leaving behind in Budapest his wife, Mária, and Mária's disabled sister. Mária was put to work sewing along with other women in a factory making shirts for the military. I do not know which military, the Hungarian or the German. Then the factory was cleared. She told me –
One day they came for us, and took all the women. I hid in a cupboard. Another girl also hid. I had to stay absolutely not moving for three days.

And the other girl?
She moved. They found her. She died.

Remembering Mária

Mária herself died in October 2001.

In October 2004 I made a contribution to the Memorial Day organised by Agnes Borbély and Moira in Budapest. The room was full of ladies from the Pető Institute who had known Mária and worked with her for years. Some has heard that little tale, many had not. How true was it as I recall her telling me? I do not know, but it showed them a younger Mária whom they at once recognise from her later years. It was 'true' in that sense.

I spoke about Mária's contradictory characteristics, including her 'rigidity (her own word for it), with this little vignette of her three days silent in a store cupboard as one illustration –
Mária hung on, and lived. I can picture a crazy, frightened young woman in the store cupboard. Only someone with iron will could have survived, only someone 'rigid'. Perhaps this was exactly the person that Conductive Education needed to act as the bridge from the strange world of András Pető to the dawn of the new Hungary.

I have told this little story before, but it is worth acknowledging how she was, both those of us who knew her and those who did not, and what her contradictory personality gave to Conductive Education,


Sutton, A. (2007) Mária Hári, from whom we still have much to learn (presentation to Commemorative Meeting hosted by Moira at the Budapest Technical University, 9 October, 2004), in Mária Hári and her Conductive Education, Budapest, MPANNI, pp. 60-66

Also translated into Hungarian by Földiné Németh Gabriella:

Sutton, A. (2005) Mária Hári, akitől még mindig tanulunk, in Mária Hári (1923-2001), Budapest, MPANNI, pp. 59-65

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


In the twenty-first century?

The great explosion of interest in Conductive Education in the United Kingdom in the late nineteen-eighties (that burst open the door for the internationalisation of Conductive Education across the rest of he Western world)) was no spontaneous phenomenon resulting directly from the inherent virtues of the system. There was certainly nothing inevitable that happened. What happened in the UK twenty-odd years ago was that CE was advocated and fought for, vigorously, in a variety of ways, often individually but usually within a conductive movement that saw itself primarily as political, with the aim of replacing established ways of doing things.

I was reminded about this world yesterday by a chance meeting with Frank Clark in a street in Birmingham. He told me that he is still in touch with Tom Hanley. Frank and Tom were pioneer Pető-parents, and CE-activists. Yesterday Frank took some pleasure in telling me about an escapade of Tom's last year, that was nothing to do with Conductive Education.

Later I looked for this on line, then I exerpted the following account from Tom's local newspaper, the Bolton News
BOLTON’S mayor will not apologise for throwing a member of the public out of a crunch full council meeting — despite unions contacting the borough’s solicitor.
The meeting to approve this year’s budget, council tax rise and more than £43 million worth of cuts was interrupted twice after the mayor, Cllr Guy Harkin, was forced to halt proceedings because of disruption in the public gallery.
Unions had organised a protest outside the Town Hall and some members then entered the gallery to watch the meeting. The mayor — in his ceremonial role as chairman of the meeting — began by saying disruptions would not be tolerated and that he would clear the public gallery if necessary.
A shout of 'Get on with it' led to him adjourning the meeting for five minutes.

Several minutes later, another shout saw Cllr Harkin identify the Bolton Libraries campaigner, Tom Hanley, as the alleged source — and he was told to leave. Several voices were heard to shout 'It wasn’t Tom Hanley' and, in scenes reminiscent of the film Spartacus, a woman shouted 'I’m Tom Hanley'. 
Cllr Harkin then ordered the public gallery to be cleared and police were called after two people refused to move.
Mr Hanley — who denies he was the person shouting — said he had refused to leave until he received an apology.
He was persuaded by council leader Cllr Cliff Morris, who said the Mayor would allow the public back in if he left...
Tom Hanley denied he shouted the remark. He said: 'I stayed behind to wait for an apology. I’m still waiting for an apology now.' Cllr Harkin said: 'I’ve known Tom Hanley for 55 years. I went to school with him and I know his voice. He was caught bang to rights. There’s no question of an apology'...
Civil disruption played its part in creating and maintaining media and political attention for CE in the United Kingdom in the late eighties (Frank had a penchant for chaining himself to railings, those of the Birmingham Education Office and the Spastics Society come to mind). There were other parts played too, not least politicking at national level, active media-management, and 'shotgunning' professional and academic conferences and publications. The UK was not the only country where the movement for Conductive Education operated actively on a broad front.

I do not know how many years it has been since I last heard of the use of public defiance as a tool to create public awareness of the anger and the demands of parents faced with current services for themselves and their children. This approach seems quite out of kilter with current public-relations notions in the little world of Conductive Education.

Perhaps, if parents begin to think that they have been sold a pup with the new 'special educational needs' legislation, some may eventually become angry enough for direct action again, with Conductive Education catching the new mood. Meanwhile, it is nice to see that the Old Guard is keeping its hand in, even if CE as whole is largely now depoliticised.

The wider activity of which popular (populist?) action was once but a part is no longer apparent. Conductive Education, is very rarely seen nowadays featuring in national politics, it has virtually no media-presence (other than as something looking for funds), and makes almost no appearance at all in conferences and journals other than its own.


(2013) Cllr Harkin defiant over throwing protester out of meeting, Bolton News,28 February
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