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.
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.