Friday, 13 February 2015


Well-intentioned but ill-informed
Historical danger lives on

A nice-looking website, regularly updated, well written and with an air of authority about it: My Clinical Advice. A couple of days ago this website dealt with a topic of potentially considerable interest:'Conductive Education and its relationship for riding for the disabled'. Doubtless many people will be consulting it over years to come, perhaps taking it to heart, maybe even quoting from it.

This is bad news for Conductive Education and for those wishing to learn about it, though likely no fault of its anonymous author.

How does this happen?

The posting looks like a cut-and-paste job, carried out in good faith. Unfortunately, in Conductive Education (and not uniquely so) putting one's  faith in what can be read on line is a poor start to getting to the heart of matters. Conductive Education on line is bedevilled with nonsense, much of it also written in good faith, uncomprehendingly and uncritically compiled by cutting and pasting all sorts of earlier nonsense, and so on.

My Clinical Advice's account of Conductive Education harks back to the United Kingdom of the eighties and the nineties of the last century –
...conductive education which Professor Andras Peto of Budapest originated for children affected with cerebral palsy. This concept was designed primarily to produce an acceptable gait, since the Hungarian educational authority requires children to be able to walk before entering the school system...
Conductive Education, as practiced in Great Britain in special schools, makes full use of all staff working as a team – teachers, therapists, all assistants and parents – rather than specially trained conductors. Schools such as Ingfield Manor and Claremont (Bristol) have, over the past 20 years, adapted the Peto method...
...and so on, including detailed account of what children might say aloud when seated on a horse, along the lines once being widely advocated, from Ingfield Manor School in particular (I think that the whole-school initiative at Claremont School had petered out in the early eighties).

Such accounts survive not only on line and on paper but also in professional folk memories around the world, and continue to be incorporated into writing and thinking about Conductive Education today.

Patched incongruously into this site's misinformation is a brief passage that looks hauntingly familiar –
Conductive Education is not a medical treatment and provides no cure of the underlying condition, but aims to achieve the ability to function in society without requiring special apparatus such as wheelchairs, ramps and other artificial aids. Conductive Education is not a therapy but an education.
That seems about right.

You can read My Clinical Advice in full at:

If you do read through to the bitter end, then you will find this futile and destructive pedagogic principle –
...praise must not be given if the target is not achieved. The rider will be aware of failure, understand and accept the situation and be ready to make another attempt.
Remember, this is all in the name of Conductive Education, including a fascinating comment on Ingfield's position in those early days
...but this concept has not been accepted by those whose interests are to promote pure Peto-type institutions in Great Britain, although the principles have long been practised within existing educational and health systems and are spreading in an adapted form.
Not gone, and not forgotten, and not just in the UK


The website My Clinical Advice is posted anonymously, though I think that it may be written by physiotherapist Abhay Pachauri:

Who ultimately is responsible? Not the author here, but those who should know better but have, for whatever reason, permitted non-conductive practice and theory to carry on by default under the name of Conductive Education. Meanwhile perhaps, children may be sat there on horseback, reciting (or just hearing) words of power, and getting back neither word nor gesture to suggest that their wishes and their efforts have been appreciated...


(2015) Conductive Education and its relationship for riding for the disabled, My Clinical Advice, 11 February

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