Thursday, 19 June 2014


Feuerstein in God's Own

An eponymous brand?

Do I detect a couple of trends?
  • The conscience emergence of a 'brand'. At least in the popular domain the name Feuerstein appears now to be beginning to be used to indicate the approach, the package, bequeathed by Reuven Feuerstein – cognitive modifiability in general, and Instrumental Enrichment and dynamic assessment inparticular – in much the same way as has the name Pető? This transition has been eased by how Reuven Feuerstein's position as the head of his Institute has been passed seamlessly to his son Rafi. Feuerstein, the father, Feuerstein the son, Feuerstein the brand – for the purpose of the present posting the names Feuerstein and Pető will be used the sense of the 'brands'.
  • Brains. Like in the world of Pető, brand Feuerstein seems to feel the need for a theoretical base at a different order than psycho-pedagogy, appealing to the distant world of brain?
Perhaps I am wrong on both counts. This week Feuerstein was doing its thing in New Zealand. Perhaps one should not make too much of one episode but reading the just published report of last week's event in Auckland, New Zealand by conductor Lisa Gombinsky I suspect that I am not.

Strong marketing

Aotearoa, is the Maori name for God's Own Country, the Land of the Great White Cloud, lying at the furthest ends of the Earth from where I sit. Furthest ends or not, Feuerstein was certainly pulling them in in the way that it has not done for years in the United Kingdom and, if this is part of a marketing drive, it looks to be a powerful one.

In the past of course Pető has made personal marketing drives in New Zealand. Two come to mind; the visit of Mária Hári and others in 1991, organised by the then PACE (NZ) Inc. (there is a fascinating video), and the nodal Kozma-Balogh visitation of about ten years ago. Whatever similarities and differences are to be seen in how these three visits were structured and presented, there is a very real difference in the model of the product being sold. Pető was selling the idea of a service deliverable only by initiates (conductors). Feuerstein sells ideas, knowledge, processes, training, at a mass level.

These two approached are not of course mutually exclusive, and to a limited degree the training-others model has been attempted within Pető (though without the extensive written component of papers and programme that characterise Feuerstein). And there are other potential models for dissemination. Perhaps radical change at the Pető Institute might open the door for their exploration, there and elsewhere.


Lisa was impressed by the following –
...the Feuerstein Institute is able to brag papers totalling well over one hundred thousand research papers

Was this really said? Unchallenged? Whatever is meant here by the flexible term 'research papers', does this really sound plausible? Lisa suggests that I check the following webpage.

I have, and very impressive it is too (would that Conductive Education could produce the like).As I already knew, an awful lot has been written about Reven Feuerstein's approach and work derived from it. Much of this is descriptive and practical, and is none the worse for that. But 'one hundred thousand research papers', especially in the light of what many might hear this to mean – pull the other one.

Maybe the apparently precise figure means much the same as the Anchient Egyptian numeral represented by the name of the god Hey – perhaps best rendered into modern English as 'an awful lot'.

Just keep telling it how it is. Feuerstein has a powerful story to tell and astonishing human achievement to record, without recourse to figures that at face value look spurious (what Mária Hári uses to call 'making the statistic'. There is no need to wreck a good case unecessarily. Please, Pető, correspondingly lose the unthinking cachet 'world famous' (it isn't). And please, both, take it easy on unnecessry talk about brains when there is such substantive relevant knowledge to document and proclaim.

Feuerstein and Pető

I have no doubt that the Feuerstein road-show will continue to roll around the world. I hope that it will trawl more Pető people as it goes, both for its substance and for what might be learned from seeing how it markets its product. Hope springs eternal...


Gominsky, L. (2014) Feuerstein on Aotearoa, Conductive Magic, the Phys. Ed Studio, and Me, 19 June

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