Wednesday, 29 June 2016


New professional organisation for conductors
Free NACA membership for 2016-2017

ACENA (North American Conductive Education Association) announces –
...a professional group exclusively for conductor teachers. NACA aims to strengthen CE, advance its principles in North America and to advocate for the continuous professional improvement of CE. NACA believes in the future of the profession, and treasures the heritage. The group is committed to standing up for professional values, to support fellow conductor teachers, and to contribute to the future of Conductive Education.

This is important news. NACA could help define the future shape of Conductive Education in North America.

Immediate questions arising from ACENA's news release include:
  • The NACA has been announced by ACENA on its website, where NACE is classed as a 'resource' of ACENA, and 'under the ACENA umbrella': what is the longer-term envisioned relationship between the two bodies? (Independent or linked)
  • Will the two bodies be respectively for conductors, and for non-conductors with interests in CE? (Current example in UK)
  • Will they serve as employers' and employees' associations? (Historical example in UK)
  • Who counts as a conductor, and who will in future as new courses arise? (What is a 'conductor-teacher', come to that)
  • What is the place for people trained at Governor's State? (Analogue in Germany)
  • Despite the new organisation's title, NACA is defined as being for 'conductor-teachers': is this distinction important? (An inconsistency that may cause confusion, outside and inside the ranks)
  • North America covers Canada, Mexico and the United States: can the proper and necessary functions of a professional association operate across national frontiers? (Laws, regulations, institutions, salaries, etc.)
This is early days in the life of NACA and the emerging details will be interesting. 


ACENA (2016) North American Conductor Association (NACA)


What might one learn from this dreadful episode?

Five years ago June saw all hell of a political row around Conductive Education in Western Australia.

It seems to have long blown away now but at the time there was real risk to the preschool programme at Carson Street School in Perth. Five years on, the service is still there, and Liz Constable, then Minister for Education for Western Australia, retired from the Western Australia Legislative Assembly at the General Education of 2015

I do not know what was at the bottom of what happened in Western Australia around Conductive Education five years ago (winter for them), but what general lesson might the rest of us draw from this? What might one learn from such an episode?
  • Politics can be dirty. Dig in, fight back hard – and win.
  • Politics can trump research when it comes decision-making – unless one also fights fire with fire
  • Serious politics rather is a more fruitful use of CE's limited attention and resources than activity at the professional-academic level to win official interest and support.
Political shenanigans with CE research documents have not been not unique to Western Australia, nor to Australia.

Surviving traces of this struggle on line

Sunday, 26 June 2016


Time for a rematch...

WHEREAS: The world has a breathing space:
  • ...there now being so much public discourse about lies and disinformation from incompetent and/or untrustworthy 'political classes' (both sides)
  • the morning-after realisation that the leavers had made no plans to deal with the consequences of their campaign
  • in the now poisonous air of distrust of politicians (did the leavers actually have no real expectation of winning?), being in it just to further personal short-term ambitions?)
  • in the face of the first dire economic effects and other consequences of the Brexit result
  • ...recognising that the widening ripples (tsunami?) from Thursday's Referendum in the UK are beginning to impact upon not just the people of the United Kingdom but the very structure of the EU and the future well-being of peoples and societies far wider afield
  • view of the fact that Parliament has not yet formally considered the results of the Petition, never mind invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to set the leave mechanism in motion...
THEREFORE, the people of the UK have not only the right but the duty to request a chance to reconsider their position:

Previous Brexit item on Conductive World

Friday, 24 June 2016


Nothing will change immediately

What will happen precisely, over what time scale, has still to be determined, see the following article for speculations about possibilities (there are plenty more):

This is of course all at the formal level. The informal level introduces further powerful factors – wages. Jobs in the UK will of course continue to pay salaries and wages in pounds sterling but this morning all UK jobs suffered and immediate pay cut in comparison with jobs paid in Euros, dollars and other currencies because of the fall in in the value of the pound.

This fall could be temporary or permanent, or get worse. No one can predict. So, in a competitive international jobs market, add financial uncertainty and lack of financial confidence to the factors that would-be employers of foreign labour may have to consider in coming years.

As for foreigners already employed in the UK, see the link already provided above which is generally reassuring about their position if they wish to stay.

Brits in the EU

The article referred to here also mentions the contrary situation of Brits' working in the EU, being similarly reassuring about the position of those who already have an EU job.

At the level of individual personal choices of where to work, Euro salaries went up some ten percent this morning in terms of what they are worth in pounds. Where they will be by tonight, or by Monday morning is anyone's guess.

Previous posting on Brexit and CE:

Thursday, 23 June 2016


Not a lot to be found

I have recently been asked whether I know of anything publication in French that provides a simple, accessible introduction to Conductive Education. Just to amplify a little: the enquiry came from someone who has a Francophone carer – 'Is there an explanation of Conductive Education in French?'

Sorry, as far as I know Non!

With the help of Google one might find something useful for the purpose stated,or at least a helpful link on the sites of AFPEC or FEPEC (France), or Schrëtt fir Schrëtt (Luxembourg), or ABPC Belgium, though I doubt it. There is nothing from Francophone Canada. I cannot think of anywhere else to look.

Academically there is nothing of any worth for this purpose in French.

Indeed, when I sat back and thought about this further I wondered what there is anything useful in this respect in any of the Romance languages. Answer: a bit. In Spanish there is a tiny popular literature (Mexico), in Portuguese there was the blog Educação conductiva – con amor (Brazil). The academic literature in both these languages has remained minute.

Much the same as in other languages really, even those in which the Internet overflows with stuff about Conductive Education, popular and academic – apart from the blogs Conductor and Conductive upbringing and lifestyle and their associated publications (English and German). Nothing in Hungarian either as far as I know. 

There is nothing really practical to offer carers to read, either those in the family and those who come in from outside. Except the book Dina – but that specifically concerns children of preschool age.

Not a lot to show the world after thirty years since interest in Conductive Education first exploded around the world in response to the hopes, dreams and sacrifice of carers who so much wanted access to benefits from this way of thinking. 

Such things remain a romantic dream. I wonder why...

Of course I could be very wrong and there is indeed plenty around in French and in other other Romance languages, plus in English, German, Russian, Hungarian, whatever... If so, along with my correspondent, I eagerly await further information...

(Usual health warning, about breath-holding behaviour)

Wednesday, 22 June 2016



A pretty universal phenomenon, and hardly news.

I mention it here because of two rather different items that I spotted over the last few days (and because this matter cannot be mentioned too often, and is often not). They have in common that they concern 'conductive parents' – Emma McDowell and Norman Perrin:

(Wholly coincidentally, both Emma and Norman have both been awarded Honorary Conductor status.)

When the rest of us have moved on, the parents will still be there, as they have been throughout.

Keep on kicking...

Tuesday, 21 June 2016


Not long now before we know

There is a national Referendum to be held in the United Kingdom in a couple of days' time The question is simple. Does the country wish to leave the European Union, or stay? A simple majority will decide this question, one way or the other.

All sort of issues around this question have been discussed over the last few weeks, of varying degrees of relevance. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Conductive Education has not featured in the national discussion, whether as a topic or as a contributor.

Doubtless, however. many involved with Conductive Education, in all sorts of capacities, will have turned their minds or even their efforts to the implications that leaving or staying may have for the status quo that has evolved over the years in which the UK and Hungary have been fellow members of the EU.

There has doubtless been considerable, sensible thought and discussion, with even specific contingency arrangements examined, by those who wish to be prudent about what the accountants call 'sensitivities', but none of this has strayed into the public domain.

Free movement of labour

'Europe', however defined, has played little substantive role in Conductive Education in the the United Kingdom over the years. Correspondingly, the UK has played little substantive role in CE in Europe. In general terms, therefore, a leave or a stay result will have little to effect either way – except in one respect: the labour supply.

It remains a fact, despite all the hard work to establish and even maintain a few, small conductor-training courses outside Hungary over the years, that the overwhelming source of conductors worldwide has remained the Pető Institute (since recently the Pető College). Whatever happens in the rest of the world, the employment of Hungarian conductors in the UK has been vastly facilitated by the EU's principle of the free movement of labour.

The rest of the world, may not be directly affected by the result of this week's referendum in the UK.

If the UK votes on Thursday to leave ('Brexit')

There will be a breathing space when necessary legal arrangements are put into law both in the UK and in the EU. The long-term results will be that Hungarians in the UK will become like other non-EU foreigners, and their employment in the UK will be subject to whatever new arrangements this country maintains or creates for dealing with foreigners (economic migrants, refugees, aliens, whatever) who wish to live and work here.

In some ways of course, this will be similar in general terms to how things were before the UK and Hungary both joined the EU. Some of those who worked in CE in the UK at that time will recall making the case to the Home Office to obtain work permits for Hungarian conductors. I do not recall whether in those days any work-permit applications were refused (I could be wrong on this) but I do remember that this all  involved a tiresome bureaucratic procedure that took time and raised uncertainties, made the employment of conductors inflexible, and created operational problems that were not needed.

And be aware, the UK's immigration system can be as obdurate as anybody's.

Just one more thing from those not-so-distant days, it was not only the immigration service, its regulations and procedures that one had once to contend with. Not a lot of people know this now but even in the latter days of the Cold War Hungarian conductors coming to this country were liable to security checks. What might these people from the Iron Curtain with their unfamiliar jobs be up to over here! Again. I never heard of anyone's being kept out for this reason, then I wouldn't, would I?

But naaah, that was then and this is now. Conductors from Hungary hardly come from a country that is politically suspect now, do they? But Western intelligence services and others are increasingly concerned at having rather taken their eyes of the far-right ball, and Hungary has a good share of dodgy right-wing organisations, including two important political parties, association with which could arouse suspicion. Never mind formal affiliations, perhaps conductors who have shared some rather extreme illiberal views on Facebook and other social media might like to think of purging their online records if their future intentions include coming to the UK (they might consider cleaning their online record in this respect anyway...!)

The only other 'leave' effect for CE that comes immediately to mind is that maybe Brits would  be less eligible for Euro-jollies.

If the UK votes to stay...

...then everything can continue to bumble along, in CE as throughout society, if that is what happens in the economy as a whole.

If, if, if...

And the bigger picture?

Maybe Mr Sörös's recent prognostications will be proved right:

In this case the UK's leaving would have noticeable economic consequence, sufficient in the worse case to rock CE boats so hard as to sink some financially marginal organisations, not just at home but even across Europe and beyond.

That, he says, we should begin to know soon, beginning on (Black?) Friday, the end of this week.

Meanwhile, KBO...


Ou on trouve l'éducation conductive

Where to find CE in France *

Carole-Savé Bourdais, President and Director of the Snail House CE Centre in Britanny announced in her local newspaper under the headline 'The future remains very fragile', that the Centre would be working with 22 children for five days a week during the forthcoming year. She added, though –

...the way things are going in France in recognising disability, the disability of the children whom we welcome here (motor-disordered children and the multiply disabled) will take 25 years to be recognised by official bodies.


(2016) La Maison Escargot: l'avenir reste très fragile, Le Télégramme, 3 juin


* Map from:

Monday, 20 June 2016


Proposed new conductor-training course in the UK

Complementary medicine coup for Island
Dr Mike Lambert — 'remarkable opportunity'

Gill Maguire has spotted a still-surviving public trace of a project to establish a degree-level conductor-training course on the Isle of Wight, a collaboration between the Pető Institute in Budapest and the Shen Clinic for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, back in 2003.
Those were strange times (aren't they all?). For a little more on this particular footnote to history, see Gill's blog →


Friend and genial cold warrior

During the Cold War tiny little Hungary boxed well over its weight in the on-air propaganda war. The English Section of Magyar Radio made a disproportionately major contribution to the efforts of the Soviet Bloc – and the quality of its journalism was considerably higher that that of its allies (and of quite a lot of the Western stuff too).

In the nineteen-eighties Charlie Coutts and Vera Sárkány were friends and active allies of the FCE in its early struggle to transplant Conductive Education from Hungary to the UK. Charlie ('the only real Communist in Budapest') ran the show. Vera was a reporter.

They both died at the end of their era, in 2000 and 2001 respectively. Charlie was a Scot and when he died attracted a respectful obituary in The Scotsman. Even now in 2016 Charlie leaves a most considerable trace on the Internet. Vera was a foot-soldier and tending to prefer it that way, and her passing was not widely recorded. In 20o1  Conductive Chronicle published an obituary notice, revealing a little of what she has done for Conductive Education:

Also in 2001 her former colleague Glen Hausser wrote a personal note for the international short-wave community, from which the following is extracted –

Vera Sárkány spent 30 of her 53 years at R. Budapest, or as we tend to call it amongst ourselves, the English Section of Hungarian Radio. This was Vera`s first and only workplace, and her voice was one which determined the profile of Radio Budapest.

She joined the Radio in the summer of 1971, immediately on graduating. The head of the section was Charlie Coutts. For the benefit of younger listeners, it is worth mentioning that during those years we were living in a world divided by ideologies, and although we shared a desire to go beyond the bounds of the Iron Curtain, it was not always easy to give a genuine picture of Hungary. Vera, in common with other members of the section, learned Western-style journalism from Charlie.

Her abilities quickly became apparent, and she was soon editoring [sic], presenting and reporting on a wide range of topics. However, science matters were closest to her heart. She came from a family of doctors, and in the early days of her career in the Radio she 
entertained the idea of studying for a degree in medicine. This dream was never realised, but her strong desire to help people materialised when she began to present more and more programmes dealing with health issues.

It was in those days that she launched Biorhythm, her longest running and most popular programme in Hungarian on domestic services, disseminating information and knowledge on new medicines, new remedies and a healthy way of life. There was huge feedback from listeners. As soon as Vera signed off, dozens of listeners began to ring in for further details.There is probably no topic Vera did not touch on in her programmes. Just to pick a few from hundreds of excellent programmes, maybe one should mention her series on conductive education in the pioneering Pető Institute in Budapest, where, with British support, children born with loco-motor disorder are taught to care for themselves.

Following the democratic changes in the 1990s, Vera regularly reported from the Hungarian Parliament. Her series, Insight continued to run until she fell ill in November 1999. Although she spent most of her last 16 months in hospital, she never ceased to follow the events of the day. She contributed to our daily current affairs magazine programme Hungary Today until just four days before she left us forever. Her voice may have sounded weak or veiled at times but her mind never lost its clarity.

Vera Sarkány died on March 3rd. We lost an excellent radio journalist and an ever-helpful colleague, faithful to the English Section right until the end...

Hungarian Radio's last English-language bulletin was broadcast on 30 June 2007, with the recorded voice of Charlie Coutts.:

References and select bibliography

Alasdair, D. (2000) Charles Coutts, broadcaster, journalist, The Scotsman, 17 April

Hausser, G. (2001) DX Listening Digest, 14 May, n.p.

Sárkány, V, (2012) K. Ákos and M Ákos, The enigmatic Dr Pető, in G. Maguire and A. Sutton (eds) András Pető, Birmingham, CEP, pp. 83-95 (interview, in her English translation)

Sárkány, J, (2012) Memories of Dr András Pető, in G. Maguire and A. Sutton (eds), András Pető, (her English translation of a personal reminiscence of her father's, Dr Jenő Sárkány), CEP, Birmingham, pp. 97-99 
Sutton, A. (2001) Vera Sárkány, Conductive Chronicle, 10 May

Sunday, 19 June 2016


Here we go again

Out of the West

The term konduktive Förderung was introduced in Germany as a device to direct attention away from the notion of pedagogy, to make it more likely that German health and/or social insurance systems might fund the CE projects emerging there at around that time. This, I recall, was in the nineteen-nineties.

For whatever reason, many individuals in Germany are indeed funded through insurance schemes (though the more recent success of the integrated conductive schools in Oberaudorf-Inntal, defined in wholeheartedly educational terms) suggest that a more appropriate road to official finding as part of a state's educational service may now be open:

Outside Germany the outcome of recent political action in Luxembourg points in the same direction;

In the meantime, however, the term konduktive Förderung has become the usual German-language term for what English-speakers (equally confusingly) call Conductive Education, having almost wholly ousted the term konduktive Pädagogie in the German-speaking lands. Along the way it has picked up 'a literature'.

A short book by Annette Fink published in 1988 features quite strongly in this literature and is now available on line:

Even without any German one easily see that this is very much a frozen product of its time, and that like so many publications is not really about conductive pedagogy and upbringing at all, but something rather different that it calls konduktive Förderung, closely analogous in contents to English-language formulations that derive from the somewhat earlier work of Esther Cotton. Whatever it says in the second half of the book's title such formulations are not fundamentally nach Petö. They are not conductive, nor even necessarily educational.

And now Russia?

Perhaps it it unfair to pick on this little book but its Russian translation now seems to hold and important place in the burgeoning interest in Conductive Education in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union – both as a source to be cited and as a book widely offered through the Russian online book stores.

I was reminded of this a couple of days ago when I was looking looking on line find the full original reference of Otto Klein's obituary for András Pető. I found it on this webpage:

What is this webpage? It is a fairly recently posted (16 May 2015)  version of her book, dated from 2003. It comes from from the Volgograd State Academy of Physical Culture. I was amazed at the extensive references, which seem an extended version of the sources cited in the original book, just a little updated but with the same orientation.

Боже мой...! In Volgograd, who is teaching whom what? Experience in the West suggests that once erroneous understandings enter systems of academic and professional publication, they can spread, persist and mislead for a very long time indeed.

Whatever happens at the level of conductors' practice, Conductive Education in the West has yet to develop effective mechanisms to detoxify its public, formal knowledge, not least at the academic level .

Now Russia (and other countries in that part of the world too) may have to face the same problem. So it goes.

Friday, 17 June 2016


Great leap forward, therapy to pedagogy

Mária Hári –
Pető worked during the twenties and thirties with chronically disabled adults. He developed a whole-life guiding system that was indifferent to the particular chronic illness and the first step of which was to stop being passive, lying about, and begin to lead an active life. What is new in Conductive Education is that we work this way with central nervous system dysfunction
Previously one treated such people as someone who is ill but a treatment is a passive thing. It is always essential to see the person behind the symptoms, most especially so with central nervous system disturbance as the central nervous system itself needs integrating. If one treats the separate parts separately, then where is the coordination?
We teach and educate the integrating mind that has to lead every action. It is not a treatment – we teach. The person learns how to live, not just move or function or perform but to solve problems… Our aim is not to teach functions, muscle movements, but to educate how to live, to solve problems.
The person is active and wants to solve problems and structure his own method. The teacher leads, catalyses, helps the activity, ensures success and a good direction.
What is learned from eight o'clock to nine o'clock is used throughout the day. Education extends throughout the whole day. The goal of Occupation A then becomes the means of Occupation B.
It is like in Alice in Wonderland. If one asks ‘Which way should I go?’ then one answers: ‘Where do you want to go? Then you know which way.’
The goal is not to teach functions or movements. It is the person and the personality that is the most essential and everything else is included in this.
When one learns a function or activity the question is not what but how to do it. One does not learn a mechanical, physical function – it is also a cognitive function, in which emotional and moral factors are very important.
Therefore it is active learning, education. Children only learn if they want to. The role of the conductor is to make joy, harmony, interest, everything that is a precondition of active learning.
These [task series] are not exercises but models of how to solve problems. One gets feedback only from the outcome of an action. If one cannot achieve the whole action then, to learn coordination, one must provide little goals and make them interesting.
(From her presentation to the UK Parliament's All-Party Disablement Group, 5 July 1988)
This extract has already been published here on Conductive World, twice, in 2009 and 2014. It is republished again because a good thing cannot be said too often, and anyway many present readers may have missed it previously.
Time flies
Susie Mallett commented on this back in 2009. What she wrote then is ever more true with each passing year –
To people like Judit, Laci and me, and others, the words spoken by Dr Mária Hári as quoted by you, Andrew are not entirely new. Many of them are tucked away in our memories for us to use every day or at a later date.
We were lucky to hear much of what you quote straight from the horse's mouth.
It has taken this posting to make me realise that we, me, Judit, Laci, and co. are probably in the minority and that the majority of the people working nowadays in the conductive world never had the chance to hear Dr. Hári speak.
They never saw her perform, never experienced her 'dancing' on the tables demonstrating her words, or had the chance to be inspired by her personally.
When I read her words I also hear the enthusiasm in her voice as she says them. I see the sparkle in her eyes and the spriteliness in her step. I am not inspired by what I read on the page but from the image I see as I read it, from the enthusiasm with which the words are spoken in the film in my head and by Dr Hári's conductive understanding and soul.
I am still inspired by her whole personality and not just by what she said. I have no idea whether those who didn't know Dr Mária Hári can sense this enthusiasm and inspiration in the written word. I can not detach myself from the moving images that I always see of her standing in front of me speaking on a subject that just comes naturally, Conductive Education.
Previous iterations

Thursday, 16 June 2016


A sentiment for all our generations

Rod (now Sir Rod) Stewart and The Who were good. 

This later cover version is good too:

One displays the confidence and arrogance of youth; the other the determination and grit of life-lived, both essential sides of the same coin – in development as in society, in organisations as in individuals.

Lighten up, and keep kicking against the pricks:

Wednesday, 15 June 2016


Reminiscence by Ilona Székely 

The late Ilona Székely was András Pető's leading 'handling lady' (kezelőnő). She was also mother to Ildikó Kozma who much later served as director of the Pető Institute.

Ilona Székely shared some of her memories of Andras Pető with medical historian Judit Forrai. Speaking of the first days of the Institute in Villányi út, Ilona Székely said –
The Institute opened in February 1950 – as Pető had planned. That was the time of the Heine-Medin [polio] epidemic. Ferencz Győző rang Peto from the László infectious diseases tell him that the hospital was full of cases from the Heine-Medin epidemic, and that those who were safely over the acute be taken away in order to make space for new patients. He wanted Peto to take them at his Institute an rehabilitate them there...
[Pető] sent me to the László Hospital, to the pavilion where the iron-lung patients were. There were six of them altogether. A doctor led me into the room – dressed in protective clothing, naturally! My task was simply to observe. I was not to breathe a word or move a muscle just be attentive and if I saw the initial stage of one of them starting to breathe unaided to point them out. Pál László and Pál Hideg* worked in our Institute after their recoveries.
I agreed with Dr Ferencz that they would start transferring the patients to our Institute. First they had to put the paralised patients, who were unable to breath, into an oxygen tent, and then into the fresh air for a minute of two so that they could practice the necessary motor functions. They would only contact us when the patients were able to breath with their own lungs, without the help of a respirator, whilst asleep. This is how the Heine-Medin patients were transferred to the Villányi út Institute.
There were also other Heine-Medin patients but they were not respirator patients. There were two rooms at the Villányi út Institute for patients from the hospital... 
(Forrai 1999, pp. 94-95) 

For more on Judit Forrai's collection of reminiscences:
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