Friday, 1 April 2016

THIRTY-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

Standing up for parents

Thirty years ago today, at peak viewing time on the evening of Tuesday 1 April 1986, a one-hour documentary film was shown across the United Kingdom, straight after BBC1's main evening news. It was called Standing up for Joe. As it was being shown, people were ringing up friends and relatives with disabled children telling them to turn it on. Within a few days eleven thousand people wrote to the BBC wanting to know more, and bootleg videos were in the post to relatives around the world. The film recounted how an English family had taken their cerebrally palsied son behind the Iron Curtain to the then Pető Institute in Budapest, Hungary.

This was an identifiable turning point in the history of Conductive Education. The cat was well and truly out of the bag.

Within a few weeks families were taking steps to travel to Budapest. Within a few months national TV networks in other countries were arranging to broadcast the film in response to parental insistence. The next year, at the same peak evening slot, on 14 November 1987 an impactful follow-up film was broadcast, called To Hungary with Love, showing the internationalisation of Conductive Education by then already well under way, with families from a growing number of countries already in Budapest. Many others were clamouring to join them, to access what in English is called Conductive Education.

The more that I think of what happened then the more I realise that these two films and the explosion of interest that they engendered were not deep down about Conductive Education but about parents' love for their disabled children, and the lengths that they are willing to go to to obtain what they think best. This happened at that point to be Conductive Education, which was shared very effectively through these two films.


This anniversary has set me thinking about the last thirty years of Conductive Education and the process of what it can be convenient to call the 'internationalisation of Conductive Education'. I suspect that many of the things that have happened are better understood in terms of parents' 'intelligent love' (Mária Hári's term). If this is indeed the better understanding of events it would be wise to recognise it as such, and acknowledge the basis of what is being done, and what might be achieved in the future.


Happy anniversary to this movement, anyway, whatever it is. And best wishes to all who ride upon it.

An earlier posting on this day



I have been asked to prepare a brief review of these thirty years for publication on line. I shall notify the link on Conductive World when this is available.



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