Tuesday, 30 June 2015


And Mária Hári
Once upon a time, in Fairyland

It has been long time no see for mention of Princess Di and Conductive Education

Yesterday conductor Kirsten Bairstow-Robb posted on her Facebook page a photographic reminder of Diana's visit to the then International Pető Institute, specifically a snap of her talking to Kirsten and Susie Mallett who were then training there:


Susie commented on Kirsten's page:
I remember that day very well. I was so impressed by how much HRH knew about us. She had been briefed several weeks before at an event for the Birmingham Institute, NICE, and she remembered enough to have an interesting conversation with us. I also remember how soft her hands were and the colour of her beautiful Chanel outfit.

That it how it was the early nineteen-nineties. Nowadays almost everyone seems to use high-tech instant cameras capable of bright, clear, focused photos that can be sent instantly all over the world, It was so very different then, when Diana was the most widely photographed, most widely recognisable woman on the planet – and so was what she was wearing.

Ah, the Naughty Nineties...! Unlike the Swinging Sixties, if you were there you remember it well.

Diana who?

A warm and powerful memory now for some – little now to most people. Like Elton John wrote in that dreadful song, she was 'a candle in the wind'. On Kiersten's Facebook page, Szilvia Mézáros (born 1980) asks, perhaps ironically –
Susie, wer ist das im blau?

'Who is that in blue?' That really does help perspectivise things, doesn't it, people and clothes

The Princess of Hearts and CE

I met Diana quite a few times in those strange times.

People often used to say to me that Princess Di must have been spreading considerable awareness of Conductive Education. I used to reply No, she was spreading enormous awareness of Princess Di. With the wisdom of hindsight it may be debated whether her association with our cause helped balance the powerful reaction against CE that was already well under way in the United Kingdon, not least from academics, professionals, the inclusionists and the disability movement. Perhaps it did, perhaps not. She never spoke a word publicly on behalf of CE: she was forbidden to. She was not allowed to say anything about anything till she had split from Charles – and then she split from CE too.

And please, no what-if history.


This very morning Budapest sees the book-launch event for Mária Hári's commemorative album (a book, not a CD). On page 184 of this there is a picture of Mária's receiving her Honorary OBE (a British civil award) from Diana who presents the medal on behalf of The Queen (well, actually, from Her Majesty's Government, specifically the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, but that is another story).

In the same commemorative album, Erzsébet Balogh remarks (on page 133) –

She [Mária Hári] did not have a great regard for such things, or at least she seemed not to.

You can say that again. Erzsi continues –

It was something else that connected her to Pető who, as rumour has it, 'declined' a Kossuth Prize.

On the same page, there is an unexplained photograph of Diana's meeting Mother Teresa, alongside  a passage quoted from the Daily Telegraph of 28 September 2011 –

In May 1990 the Princess and Prince Charles travelled to Hungary and made history by becoming the first members of the Royal Family to visit a former Warsaw Pact country. As well as sharing the celebrations at the end of Communism, the Princess visited the renowned Pető Institute for handicapped children where on behalf of the Queen she invested the director Dr Mária Hári with an Honorary OBE.

I've a feeling we're not in Fairyland anymore.


Tarsoly, I. (ed.) Emlékkönyv, Dr Hári Mária, 1923-2001, Budapest, PAF

Monday, 29 June 2015


No one knows

The fate of the collection in the former aircraft museum in Budapest's City Park remains apparently undecided, being dependent upon a decision by the Government, now overdue:

A 'Government decision', now there's an oxymoron for you, anywhere.

Conductive World's recent item on  aircraft museum's closure:


The uncertain news of the collection's future appeared this morning in Indóház:

This is not an Indian restaurant, or a hostel for people from the Subcontinent, but the Hungarian national online magazine for railway and transport enthusiasts – spotters, gricers (gráiszerek?) and the like:


Márványi, P. (2015) Búcsú a PeCsától: egy repülőmúzeum utolsó képei, Iho, 29 June


Former Kingdom of Hungary

Thank you Valeriya Makarenko for notifying another out-of-country venture by the András Pető College, in Trancarpathian Ukraine at the end of last year:

At the invitation of the Maltese Aid Service two conductors from the PAF provided a week's introductory training for rehabilitationists at a special school in the country town of Beregovo in Ukraine (Hungarian name: Beregszász), that educates children with cerebral palsy and the consequences of polio, along with medical staff from the Innovo medical centre in the town.

During the week Ukrainian staff observed work in three groups for children and adults:
  • children of six months to three years (with parents involved too)
  • primary-age children
  • adolescents and adults
Conductive Education and Ukraine

This recent exercise is a different approach from the PAI's earlier involvement in the Ukraine, set in a different context. There had been been introductory day conferences (lecture presentations) in the capital, Kiev, in 2005 and 2012:


And Ukranian parents are also invited to take their children to the PAF as part of Hungary's 'health tourism' industry, for example:

Bergovo is a small town very close to the border with Hungary, once part of the Kingdom of Hungary and still mainly Hungarian-speaking. Most of a considerable Jewish population were murdered during the War, mainly in May 1944. It is one of those communities that announces its identity to visitors on the edge of town by its name written in Magyar runes:

Recent postings on the PAF's activities in Hungarian-speaking communities just outside Hungary:


Кондуктивна Педагогіка

For those who wish to search out more on Conductive Education and Ukraine for themselves, the Ukrainian term for Conductive Education (Pető method) is:
  • Кондуктивна Педагогіка
  • Метод Петьо

(2014) Знайомство із кондуктивною педагогікою, Malteser

Sunday, 28 June 2015


Next World Congress

Preliminary details of the 9th World Congress on Conductive Education have been published on the Congress's  website:


The Congress will be held in Budapest, Hungary, from 10 to 13 December 2016. Those who wish to submit presentations  etc. have until 10 December this year to do so.

Precise location

Yet to be announced

Conference theme

Yet to be announced

Keynotes and programme

Yet to be announced



Congress language


Submission of abstracts

No information yet on duration allowed for presentations.

Abstracts (300 words) for papers, posters and/or videos proposed for presentation at this Congress should be submitted by 10 December 2015:


Acceptance will be confirmed by 10 March 2016


There is  no indication of an online dimension to WC9, as was arranged in 2010 by SAAK for WC7 in Hong Kong.


There will be an Abstract Book. No mention yet of Proceedings.



Special arrangements and disability access

Yet to be announced

Accommodation and associated programmes

Yet to be announced


Information on this is unclear –
Registration is required for all participants
Recommended option for registration is with the ONLINE registration form. It is possible to register now, although registration is only final upon payment Latest day of Registration is August 10th. Regrettably we are unable to accept any further on-line registrations.
If you wish to register for the Congress, please contact us
By e-mail: wcce2016@peto.hu
Telephone: Gabriella Földi +36 1 224 1518
At this time we cannot guarantee entry to the Opening and Closing Events. The number of places we have available depends upon cancellations.
Registration form not on line

Fees, other costs

Yet to be Announced


All Enquiries to:  wcce2016@peto.hu


Saturday, 27 June 2015


Farewell in City Park

One does not usually think of Hungary in terms of the history of aviation (or of space travel), and most touristic visitors to Budapest over the last thirty years may not have noticed the Aviation and Space Museum on the upper floor of the rather ad hoc-looking Petőfi Hall in City Park – a quirky, eclectic collection of this and that  including items that even the most avid aircraft enthusiast might never have heard of.

Well, if you have not already seen it, then tomorrow will be your last chance, as this museum closes then for the last time. The Petőfi Hall is being demolished to make way for the huge New National Gallery.

What will happen then to this odd collection, I do not know, though I am sure the enormous Hungarian appetite for nosztalgia surely means that it will rise again.



In English, to show what you will have missed:

Thursday, 25 June 2015


Closing PAF's academic year
Presenting album to commemorate Mária Hári

The András Pető College will formally close its academic year with a morning's events at its building at Villányi út 67, next Tuesday, 30 June.
  • The actual Closing Ceremony will kick off at 0930, feature lots of music, and run until 1050
  • The second part of the morning, from 1100, will serve as occasion for launching the newly published Commemorative Book for Mária Hári.
  • Lunch will be served at 1300
Full programme of the whole morning's events, in Hungarian only:

Brief introduction to this new book, including summary contents of next Tuesday morning's book launch, all in English:

Wednesday, 24 June 2015


A connection from long ago

Between 8 and 12 June there were again Japanese participants on a PAF international familiarisation course.

The nine-strong delegation was led as before by Akira Kawamoto who qualified a conductor in 1997, in the days of Dr Masanao Murai, since whose death Askira has directed the service in Japan...

The aim of attending this course was to expand knowledge of conducive practice beyond adults and to observe conductive programmes.

Read this brief report in full on the PAF's website (Hungrian only):

Three earlier items on CE in Japan

Tuesday, 23 June 2015


24 June is pivotal date
In summer, the conductors' job market hots up 

In the Northern Hemisphere we have already had the Summer Equinox – though in Britain Midsummer's Day falls today, on 24 June. Not being a pagan I am indifferent to whether Midsummer's Eve was a few days ago, or whether I live it now. 

Either way, I sit only a few miles from the Forest of Arden  a place that, since Birmingham International Airport was built there, is nothing like as magical as it was in Shakespeare's time. I digress. By anyone's reckoning, it is now high summer, evenings begin to shorten, and CE's job market is stirring like it does every year around this time:

Whatever else is advertised on CONDUCTIVE WORLD MARKET, the prime trade at this time of year is CE's particular kind of people-trafficking, that is looking for conductors to fill vacancies  and advertising vacancies to tempt conductors into new jobs. Summer terms will be over soon enough. Many people are thinking of a fresh start for the new school year that will follow all too fast behind.

So, get in there and advertise for what you want. Write in whatever language you think is most likely to attract the audience that you seek. If you are a potential customer, use the Comments to ask for further details. If you are an advertiser, do remember to use Comments to tell people when an advert has been successful.

Good luck...

Monday, 22 June 2015


Critical view of national system as a whole

The Hungarian women's magazine Nők Lapja Café has run a feature article critical of national educational services for movement-disordered children:


Paediatrician and medical lawyer Zsófia Kálmán tells the magazine that in Hungary the chances for receiving an integrated education and accessing specialist services are better for more mildly disabled children from better educated, more well-to-do, metropolitan families.

Integration would offer a cheaper and altogether more humane solution than any level of segregation, but most schools are not up to accommodating disabled children, 'morally or physically'. Further, many special-education teachers and conductors are 'existentially opposed to integration'.

The de Jure Foundation has been created to fight for the rights of the disabled:

The magazine appeals to its readers to let it know:
If you know of any institution where the integration works well, and are happy to share your story.
Dr Zsófia Kálmán is the daughter of Dr Júlia Dévai who made an important contribution to András Pető's earliest development of conductive pedagogy and then to the creation of the Institute of Motor Disorders. As a girl, Zsófia knew András Pető as bácsi,'uncle'.

Sunday, 21 June 2015


Something for the weekend

What a complicated area this is, the place of angels in Conductive Education! This present posting follows on from yesterday's:

András Pető

On complication is that András Pető himself seemed to have a bit of a thing about angels:

Károly Ákos disapproved of András Pető’s philosophy. which was, he said dismissively, 'all angels'. He did not, however elaborate on this and, as in so much else, I have no idea what András Pető thought in this respect.

A couple of years back I edited an English translations of a few of András Pető's verses for publication by CEP. These verses are all pretty gnomic, including this one –
I want to see the angel

Yonder on the slope,
Under the almond tree.
I want to see the angel,
I want to approach him
And kiss his garment
I want to perish on the spot.
András Pető, p, 19,
I am still none the wiser!

These verses' originals were of course written (scrawled in some cases) in German. They are undated but were probably written in his later years.

Popular usage

Of course refer to somebody colloquially as 'an angel' in various senses as circumstances apply. Use the word in given combinations too: for example, 'angels in the snow' is an OK usage, so are the cakes. There is nothing in the word to be dogmatic about.

People do not seem to mind applying the word to others. But many do not welcome having it applied unthinkingly to themselves. Rony Schenker has reminded me of Ifat Ohad's eloquent rebuttal, writing as the mother of a disabled child:

And Susie Mallett reminds of a further reason for conductors (and others) not to refer to disabled children collectively as angels –
I have had this same opinion for a long time that conductors should not describe their clients as angels, and more so since I have read on some American parents' blogs that they talk about their deceased children as angels, and that is different.
Theologically speaking...

There is always a theological angle, if you want one, to anything – angels not the lest. From Mexico, Elena Carramiñana reminds me of this –
And 'angels' do not have a body
I suppose that angels therefore have no central nervous system either, and therefore no possibility of developing or acquiring motor disorders, but what do I know?

We need a Jesuit on this case, but there's never one around when you need one...

Saturday, 20 June 2015



There are people in disability the world over, as in their wider societies, who choose to express themselves cloyingly. This of course is their right. Like many another right, however, it may be exercised to the point of harming others.

Perhaps it is unsurprising that this strand of thinking is represented within the microcosm of Conductive Education too – unsurprising but no less undesirable for that. You might think that conductors especially might be better aware of the need to maintain public respect and confidence in their own 'professionalism'. By far the majority whom I have ever met over the years most certainly are, and it is a shame when they are let down in the long struggle to get Conductive Education recognised as a serious contender.

The miscreants ought to be told that, to most sensible and sensitive people, to parents, and to other conductors, to most people working in the field of disability, and to hard-nosed policy makers, talk of disabled children as 'angels' may seem as at least bonkers  – and at worse gushingly sentimental to the point of being embarrassing, or even positively offensive.

If they are not told, when will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?

So please, no more talk of 'Playing with angels' and 'Angelville'. Please. It lowers the public tone, and the credibility and reputation of Conductive Education are diminished. We all suffer.

Friday, 19 June 2015


Something else not seen discussed in CE
La climatisation a été installée ce WE... Les enfants revivent car nous avons passé deux semaines très difficiles à cause des grosses chaleurs.
[The air conditioning was installed this weekend at the CEC... The children are reviving, for we have had two very difficult weeks because of the intense heat.]
Global warming aside, I count myself fortunate to live in the temperate zone where this year I have on balance been happy that we are having a 'traditional summer'.

I know that this year it has been different on the Continent of Europe where Conductive Education had its roots long before air-conditioning. I also know that conductors have taken their practice further afield to develop, out to the tropics proper and on to the great, hot land masses where it can be really hot.

Perhaps I think of this as a possible problem only because I am English. But excessive heat can bring exhaustion and other metabolic problems, for workers and clients alike. What are these in practice? More importantly in conductive terms, what to do about them? Air-con may be helpful and in some social contexts might be the expected norm for everyday environments in which many people live, work and play. In other situations, however, things might be a lot different.

Recently, from sweltering Southern Germany, conductor Susie Mallett blogged about her ice-hockey game:

Others  may have other tricks and activities to combat the psychological effects of heat through pedagogical means. Do share them...


(2015) Des nouvelles, Association CEC du Gard, 18 June
Mallett, S. (2015) Beating the summer heat, conductively, Conductor, 14 June

Thursday, 18 June 2015


Telling how it is
Not just with learning disabilities

Debs Aspland writes –
As you enter the Special Needs Jungle, you will come across many different types of people; the ones who will help, the ones who will hinder; the ones who make you smile, the ones who make you cry; the ones who inspire you and the ones who make you feel like giving up.
I have met some amazing people since entering the Jungle but I have also met some really nasty, soul-destroying, insecure, negative people who have made me cry, made me angry and made me wonder why I bother even getting out of bed on a morning.
As it's Learning Disability Week this week, let's raise awareness about the negative people we often encounter, and look at ways you can learn to deal with them.
Who are the negative people?
I call them "KNICKERs". What? Yes, that's right, KNICKERs! Why?
K-N-I-C-K-E-R is a mnemonic: She explains:
Debs Aspland's experience has been as a mother. My own experience of the World of Special was from the other side of the fence, as one of the paid help (a professional is the favoured term). Deb's account as I read it is about people in general, living in the real world. My own much narrower perspective was gained exclusively from within the microcosm of the professional services.

Over forty-odd years I did not come across a broad concept analogous to KNICKERs. There were lots of complaints about the awfulness and inadequacy of this and that, often specifically about her or him. Or them. There seemed little general analysis, beyond specifics, for example that teachers who worked in special schools and units were often themselves unsuccessful teahers looking for refuge from the classroom (they used to say he same about educational psychologists too). How far such things were and whether they might amount to a problem to be solved did nor get taken up.

It was easy to gloss over individual culpability for what happens by blaming 'the system'. Or by seeing the staff of institutions as also being its hapless victims, and thinking of the the punishments for those who do not toe the line, and the burnout that results – and the rewards for the careerists and Jobsworths who do.

One of the saddest minor themes in British politics in our process is to read yet another Parliamentary debate on 'special needs' in which MP after MP states unqualified admiration for the wonderful (talented + dedicated) teachers and other school staff who work with disabled children. Don't they listen to what they hear in their constituency surgeries.

In reality there are some absolute stinkers. What should one expect otherwise. Perhaps nowadays, with hideous revelation after revelation, we know that nurses and other NHS staff are not all angels – some are devils. Coppers are not all Dixon of Dock Green, careworkers and social workers are not all Clare in the Community. Doctors... ahem. Not to mention bankers.

In previous lives I have experienced this again and again, from the inside, in education, social work, residential care, juvenile justice, universities, charities, bureaucracies  and in my dealings with the health service. Who has not? Later my involvement in Conductive Education served me up a further share of such experiences, at home and abroad.

Often I experienced this as sheer wickedness, evil, though in many cases the basic problem may have primarily cognitive rather than moral – hopeless training (pun intended), poor educational level, just not intellectually up to doing the jobs expected of them and in which they claimed expertise. Excuses, Excuses.

They might well have their own excuses (if they think that they have a problem to excuse) and those looking in might offer altogether different explanations, There can be no question, though, that bad things do happen in the human services, not just those in the state sector, sometimes very bad. The question is the relative proportion of good and bad to be found out there.

It is hard enough even to mention this in the public domain. It would be harder still to legislate about it. So ignore it?

Congratulations to Special Needs Jungle for peeping under the rug.


Aspland, D. (2015) It’s Learning Disability week, let’s talk about the negative people we meet in the LD world, Special Needs Jungle, 18 June

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