Thursday, 28 July 2016


A year on, a little more information

I am reminded that autonomous conductor-training (for 'conductor-educator specialists') must have finished its first year now and be ready soon to begin its second, in the Department of Occupational Therapy at ADU, the Adventist University of Health Sciences in Orlando, Florida:

Fifteen students to be admitted each year.

Faculty (academic staff)

Department Chair. Professor


Faculty, conductor (bio info soon)


Two courses

BS (Batchelor of Science, four years)

BS curriculum

Diploma (five semesters)

Library guide


Wednesday, 27 July 2016


97 new students to be admitted

Out of 331 applicants to train to become conductors at the András Pető College this year. 97 have been successful:

A long time ago, those who trained at the then Pető Institute stayed on there to work as conductors. Indeed, Mária Hári in her heyday did her level best to dissuade conductors from working anywhere else, and very unpleasant this could be, forbidding them from ever returning if they did.

Things are rather different now. Some of those currently joining this course will likely find employment at PAF, others will find jobs as conductors elsewhere in the Hungarian economy, while others still will seek their fortunes abroad. Others too, will find jobs doing something other than as a conductor.

Given the present size of the training course in Budapest, and the relative size of the very few conductor-training course elsewhere, the PAF will retain a disproportionate influence over the nature of what constitutes 'a conductor' around the world for a considerable time to come.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016


Reject it, say what you do mean

This morning I have been for a routine medical review. Coincidently. On he bus I was reading on my phone a Facebook exchange between Rony Schenker and Lisa Gombinsky, that has inter alia touched upon Conductive Education's need to get it act sorted and define its terms –

This reminded me of my appointment letter. I had it with me to find my way to the right department. Rony and Lisa had evoked a particular sentence that had irritated me when I had received the letter a month ago –
When attending your outpatient appointment you are welcome to bring one relative or friend to support you during your visit.

Really? Does the hospital think me so decrepit that I need holding up? Or is there something that will happen to me that will leave me similarly immobile and, if so, is the hospital really so short-staffed that I may have to bring someone with me to help do the hospital's job? Or what?

A harmless-enough example. I can sort of work out what this well-intentioned letter means to say, I think, through what I know of the procedure and of the nonsensical jargon that professionals and semi-professionals use in this sort of context. But I should not need to.

'Support' is a word met everywhere now in English to mean, well, whatever it means in given contexts. Usually it means nothing because those who use it cannot find it in themselves to say what they really do expect or intend (through limited vocabulary, or just laziness). Sometimes perhaps they would prefer not to say exactly, in case they be held to account. And sometimes they have absolutely no idea, but would rather give the impression that they do...

And sometimes they may even be saying the very opposite of what they might intend. I have seen things telling me that conductors 'support walking' (er, in fact I have even seen photos and videos that suggest some do just that, so there you are, nature imitating art!)

As my personal example this morning illustrates, this is a far wider problem that just one for Conductive Education.

What is behind such diminutions in the specificity of language have in common? Perhaps no more than indicating that professional and semi-professionals might be unable or unwilling to state precisely what they mean  for a host of reasons. Lack of confidence? Yes, Rony and Lisa, CE deserves better than this.

Rony and Lisa were commenting on an example of my own terminological inexactitude. When I have had a look at the hospital lunch, I had better think of responding to them.


Two general, transformative principles

L. S. Vygotskii

I write here from memory...

It was some time in the mid nineteen-nineties, in the then still new building at the National Institute of Conductive Education in Birmingham. I was just about to go down the stairs from the first floor when Mel Brown came up.

'You're a psychologist,' she greeted me, 'give me a couple of psychological principles of teaching in Conductive Education,' or words to that effect.

'That will take a bit of working out', I replied, my mind elsewhere. When I got to the foot of the stairs, though, I stopped and turned around.

Stop, wait,' I called back up. 'How about these two?'

Just like that

It is funny how the mind can conjure up ideas, connections, generalisations, almost in a instant of time, as an immediate product of a given situation.

I told her what had had occurred to  me in a flash as I reached the foot of the stairs, and I took this away with me, to ponder the two principled points that I had offered. On further examination these continued to accord with my observations, and the observations and experiences of others, and also with things that I read (particularly from the pen of Mária Hári). So I incorporated them into lectures on conductive pedagogy that I gave to student-conductors.

What I think in this respect some twenty or so years later is not substantively different from the clang response that sprang to mind in response to the question posed me, in the time that it took to walk down a single flight of stairs some years ago. I have not seen, read or heard anything in the ensuing years to give me cause to withdraw them. I have no doubt that they could be refined.

Two simple principles of conductive teaching

These are not claimed to be novel or unprecedented, nor in any way unique to conductive pedagogy:
  • Always provide the least necessary help to achieve goals
  • Reward trying to achieve something new, rather than rewarding performance of what has already been learned.
The two principles of course complement each other, and are central to the process of conductive facilitation. 

Both should be exercised flexibly, dynamically, drawing continually upon sensitive conductive observation and creative imagination to balance between appreciation of what has already been achieved and anticipation of what might come next. Pedagogues should not just confirm what learners have already learned and made their own, who they already are, but facilitate means whereby they might develop further.

Those who teach offend against these principles at their learners' peril. Teaching to and reinforcing present rather that potential level of development. its yesterday rather than its tomorrow, should never do. Don't do it!

No doubt others express this better. I just wish that more would.

A little more on this

Monday, 25 July 2016


As is often so in CE –
The more one knows
The more one is confused


The Annual General Meeting of AFPC (l'Association Française de Pédagogie Conductive) has just taken place under the auspices of CESAP (Comité d'Etudes, d'Education et de Soins Auprès des Personnes Polyhandicapées), a French national organisation concerned with multiple disabilities. A week ago today AFPC's AGM was reported on the site of CESAP's website –
The AGM of the French Association of Conductive Pedagogy was held in Clairmont on Tuesday on 19 July 19 2016 in, at CESAP's headquarters.
Sophie Laperche, psychomotrician and resource person or conductive pedagogy (and also head of the education department ESCAP) became President of the Association at this event. The previous President, Dr Annick Champolion-Puel remains a member of the Board and will support the new team.
It will be recalled that the day schools of the Claire Montagne Medico-pedagogic Establishment are based on conductive pedagogy (or conductive education) to provide the establishment's children a very interesting model of support that offers remarkable prospects for action with a population of children the complexity of whose disability needs no further demonstration.

I knew AFPC during the first small wave of attempts to establish Conductive Education in France following the very negative French report on the Pető Institute. Most memorable for me was the grand conference held at UNESCO in Paris, in 2003:

AFPC is still widely mentioned on the Internet, but I can find no more than a fragment of its own website still extant:

I have, however, been vaguely aware that ATPC still exists, and this brief AGM report confirms its survival.


AFPC is not to be confused with AFPEC (l'Association Française pour l'Éducation Conductive):


And this in turn is not to be confused with FEPIC (Fédération des Établissements Privés d’Éducation Conductive):

Clarification, please

Please, could someone in France offer a conceptual map to explaining this complex organisational geography. Write publicly, as a Comment on Conductive World or on Facebook, or privately to Write in French or in English, as you prefer.

Perhaps not just les rosbifs are confused.

Sunday, 24 July 2016


What it takes

Andy Blunden is without doubt the Anglosphere's leading Vygotskii-anorak.

This is not human capital!

He is not of that vast assembly of 'neo-Vygotskians' whose work has for a generation so blighted Western understandings of Vygotskii's, but an original, of his own kind.

Just on line is an excellent example of his prodigious output:

Read it if you pretend to a serious, effective interest in Vygotskii and the thinking that he represents. If you feel that its tone and standpoint jars with much or even all that you have read on this and associated topics over the years, then you are right. It does.

Andy Blunden has shown how far the study of Vygotskii and co. can be taken relying primarily upon the often poor English-language sources available. Why then, despite all the ink spilled over the last decades, and such academic careers created, has so much effort vanished up socially ineffectual gumtrees?

Not your average bourgeois academic

Moral of this story

It's the philosophy, stupid.

It usually is. Concentrate on the specifics, such nuts and bolts as you gather together, and you'll miss the point. With the basic idea, however, you are on the way. And if you don't get this..

This has been apparent in Conductive Education since the earliest attempts to transplant it to a different cultural context. as in the case of other approaches ai psychology and education...

Last mention here of his of this fundamental point:

Saturday, 23 July 2016


Special educator
Another gone, from a great generation

Yaakov Rand has died:

In the early nineteen-seventies, when I first chanced upon mediated learning, I found its practice set upon three legs: dynamic assessment, instrumental enrichment – and group care. Instrumental enrichment can be counted as a kind of pedagogy, and group care is most certainly upbringing. Both are transformative.

Over subsequent years outsiders' interest has been mainly towards dynamic assessment and instrumental enrichment, these being readily transmitted through short courses and workshops. Group upbringing has been less apparent.

In the early seventies Reuven seemed already established as a front-man and populariser – both essential roles and ones that he wholeheartedly fulfilled. But I was aware that there were others involved too – not least Yaakov Rand.

Professor Rand, as he became, was closely involved in the early development and publication of all three 'legs', see for example :

Perhaps in modern Israel Yaakov Rand has been better known as father of singer and actor Shuli Rand. Worldwide perhaps the special-educational priorities and interventions of the twentieth century time have now rather fallen out of fashion, indeed out of favour, and its achievements gone out of mind.

All the same, those in Conductive Education who seek comfort, intellectual reassurance and practical inspiration from parallel streams of transformative pedagogy and upbringing, even today should add the name of Yaakov Rand to their check-it-out list...

Friday, 22 July 2016


A little light into another corner

Yesterday this letter to Russian-speaking parents was sent me by the PAF –
Уважаемые Родители!
Международное отделение Высшего Института имени А. Петё в 2016 году со сроком три недели организует специальный курс для самостоятельно ходящих детей с ДЦП дошкольного и раннего школьного возраста. Курс будет составлен по такой же методике как все наши курсы но с ударением на специальные проблемы самостоятельно ходящих детей. Ждём ваши письма о намерении принимать участие на планированном курсе ( Срок заявки на курс 01.11.2016. г. Начало курса по плану 28.11.2016.
Which being translated into English –
Esteemed parents,
In 2016 the International Department of the Pető International Higher Institute is organising a special three-week course for children with cerebral palsy of preschool and early school age who can walk independently. The course will be run with the same method as all our courses, but with account to the special problems of children who walk independently. We await your letters to indicate your intention to take part in this planned course ( The deadline to apply for the course is 1 November 2016. The course is planned to start on 28 November 2016.
Perhaps, for any of a host of reasons, some conductive services do not address this group of potential clients at all. Other services, however, have addressed this group of clients in their own ways over the years. Either way, this aspect of conductive practice seems to have generated no professional literature, even at a basic, descriptive level. Nor does it form part of the prevailing popular-professional 'myth' of what Conductive Education is all about, which can be all too often boiled down to one simple goal, walking:

There is potentially a whole cluster of relevant themes and perspectives in their own right here, including the pedagogy psychology, sociology, even the needs, politics, ethics and economics related to CE and 'walkers'.

In the age of transparency, is this too much to hope...? Or just another chance being missed?

Thursday, 21 July 2016


Three postings from July last year

But first...

Read on:

Whatever objective changes the world of Conductive Education may have experienced over the last twelve months, the stated identity, the narrative of Conductive Education does not appear to have shown significant development. Is there indication yet that it might do so in another year's time?

New narratives take time to be born. Old narratives take time to die.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016


The young András Pető by night

'I shall tell you a scandal', said Mária Hári. And she did, barely able to contain her giggles.

Before the Great War, András Pető was living in Vienna with Jacob Moreno and three other students, in a sort of collective that they called the 'House of Encounter'.

The scant, word-of-mouth, accounts of András Pető 's early life include brief mention that Jacob Moreno set up a sort of 'trades union for prostitutes', an experience that apparently contributed to Jacob Moreno's thinking on group action. 

András Pető, Mária told, had other interests. He rather liked the prostitutes and their services, but was very short of money to indulge in them. So he helped himself from the small kitty that the House of Encounter kept for its collective needs, and slipped out after dark to indulge. 

In an attempt to prevent repetition of this Jacob Moreno took and hid András Pető's shoes at night, so that he could not go out. András Pető, however, was not to be denied, and went anyway. Barefoot. In winter, she said.

I do not know where Mária had heard this story, perhaps from András Pető himself, or perhaps from Jacob Mareno when he and his wife Zerka visited Budapest in the early nineteen-sixties. Mária found this little tale highly amusing, and told me it several times over the years – and no doubt shared it with others too.

I cannot recall having seen it written down elsewhere so I am pleased to pass it into the written record as an (unverified) contribution to a more rounded picture of the old rogue himself.

For something more on the House of Encounter, from Jacob Moreno's point of view, see:

Sutton, A. (2012) András Pető at university: a sideways glimpse into his life before the First War, 12 July

*   *   *

This image of a barefoot medical student has nothing of course to do  with the concepts of a barefoot doctor or a barefoot conductor as raised before on Conductive World:

Monday, 18 July 2016


Something relevant – so worth remembering

Two years ago the Applied Health and Wellbeing Partnership at John Moores  University in Liverpool published an evaluation of the Stick'n'Step Conductive Education service, in a research paradigm rather more relevant to the interests of both users and public authorities than much that has gone before:

Two years later, while one still occasionally hears of people searching around for 'research evidence', there seems to have been no mention of this study in the Conductive Education research literature.

The CE research literature – in the sense of a progressively accumulating body of published reports, dynamically incorporating, analysing and building upon what has been published before – seems largely to have ground to a halt.

One serious (outside) reviewer from outside the field of CE has, however, picked this study up. Last year Optimity Advisors, acting for NICE (the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence), considered this particular study one of the 'better reported' in their review of seven 'SROI' studies  –
Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis is intended to capture and value in monetary terms a wider set of impacts relevant to a more extended group of stakeholders than is usual with other types of economic evaluation. SROI analysis '…is a framework for measuring and accounting for this much broader concept of value; it seeks to reduce inequality and environmental degradation and improve wellbeing by incorporating social, environmental and economic costs and benefits' (p.4)
Despite positive results of this sample of SROI evaluations various caveats left it hard to draw general conclusions about the cost-effectiveness of such community engagement programmes on the basis of the evidence contained within them.

It is of course early in the game, and possibly CE services elsewhere might generate evaluations that build upon the work investigated at Stick'n'Step.

Meanwhile, bearing this in mind, conductivists everywhere might like to consider a couple of NICE's tabulated findings –
Outcomes: All children and adult stakeholders involved in this evaluation reported a number of outcomes from which three main themes of impacts emerged, based around social, mental health and wellbeing benefits and the learning of new skills. Social benefits included the meeting of new people, making new friends and feeling more socially included in society. As a result of engagement with Stick ’n’ Step, mental health and wellbeing had improved with many respondents stating they felt happy and relaxed after attending. Having learnt new skills which had enabled them to make improvements in their mobility, and the pain reduction that came with CE sessions, many young people reported feelings of pride brought on by how hard they had worked to achieve personal goals set out as part of their holistic programme of care when they first attended Stick ‘n’ Step....

Stick ‘n’ Step results in £4.89 gain in benefits per £1 invested

(ibid. p. 58)

Optimity Advisors (2015) Community Engagement – approaches to improve health and reduce health inequalities Review of Social Return on Investment (SROI) evaluations, London, NICE, July

Sutton, A. (2014) Major step forward at Stick'n'Step: something fresh in 'CE research', Conductive World, 18 July

Whelan, G., Roach, G. (2014) An evaluation of the Stick ‘n’ Step charity in Wirral, Merseyside, Final report, Liverpool, John Moores University, February

Saturday, 16 July 2016


Busy, especially with jobs

The online CONDUCTIVE WORLD MARKET opened in 2010 It incorporated CONDUCTIVE EDUCATION JOBS in 2012. Jobs for conductors have continued its major trade.
This time of year is always a busy one for conductors who are seeking work, and for everyone looking to employ conductors.
Conductive World Market is provided as a Facebook group. In 2013 it had 500 members, today it has 1195.

What is a market?

A market is a place for buying and selling, gossip and intrigue; somewhere to find a crowd – and to work it.

What is your image of a market? A Greek agora, a Middle Eastern souk or bazaar, a farmer’s market, a Christmas one? Or a Thatcherite system for establishing the price of everything (though not necessarily its value)?

Whatever image comes to mind, a free market is something that finds its own content, and develops in response to those who visit and use it, whether take part actively in the business, join conversations, window-shop, comment on what they see ,or just watch what people are doing.

The content of Conduction's online CONDUCTIVE WORLD MARKET reflects the uses that people make of it.

Join in

CONDUCTIVE WORLD MARKET is provided through Facebook, as an open group. Use it as you would any other open Facebook page. Join if you wish. Or just browse.

New entries are posted at the top of the page. Making a Comment to an earlier (older) entry brings it back up to the top of the page.

CONDUCTIVE WORLD MARKET is free of charge.

Facebook members can respond to any advert posted there with a Like, Comment, Promote or Share, in the usual way. Any announcement in this market is therefore potentially the start of a communication, conversation or discussion.

Photos, videos etc. can be attached to adverts in the usual way.


The main trade of this particular market has always been in people – particularly in conductors:
  • families and services with jobs to offer, ,looking for conductors
  • conductors looking for new jobs and potential new employers.
Worldwide this ‘traffic’ works through a variety of methods – of which on-line advertising is the most visible and the easiest to find for everyone involved. Advertising on CONDUCTIVE WORLD MARKET permits advertisers and others to enter into either public or private discussion – and announce when a job is no longer vacant.

Services and events

Most CE services around the world advertise what they do on their own sites. If you do not know where to find these shop windows worldwide, you can look at Conduction's world map of where conductors work:

CE centres' websites serve as their own shop windows – and this is fine where their shops are situated in prominent places or are so well known that potential customers beat a way to their doors. Many services, however, are not so well situated and, however excellent what they do have to get out and market them. Some do. Many do not – perhaps this indicates that CE services are full and have therefore no need to advertise, and perhaps some are just rather unsophisticated about marketing.

Some centres cannot afford to keep their shop windows up to date, and do not know how to do so themselves. So some of them also take their wares to a marketplace to publicise what they have to offer, vacancies, forthcoming events etc.


Conductive Education is a ‘people technology’. It depends primarily upon people, not things. But some things may some come come in handy, and can be bought or sold in the market.

Going to market to ask for what you require, to to dispose of something that you no longer want. Second-hand can be a good way of acquiring what you need rather more cheaply than buying it new, and a perhaps the only way to get rid of some of that no-longer-wanted wooden furniture on a buyer-collects basis.

Books, other kinds of publication and small goods are also traded from time to time.


The world of CE speaks in a babble of tongues, a Babel. The main language in this online market has been English, though Hungarian runs it a close second, German is common, French is now heard more often, and others feature from time to time.

It is up to those who advertise to decide what language to write in, according to who they wish to understand them. So, of you want someone to work in France, advertise in French.

Those who cannot understand the advertisement are unlikely to want to apply anyway!


Markets are traditionally good places to find out what is happening in the world, announce what you are doing and pass on news of others – rumour, gossip, pletyka.

Meetings, conferences and courses hardly have figured hardly at all. Perhaps these will come.


Markets are a traditional place find a crowd, reach out to people, promote ideas, techniques and enthusiasms, to gather support for a cause or viewpoint of to invite people to sign petitions.

Market police

There are no formal rules and people have been remarkably well behaved in what they say and do. A few breeches to good taste have led to perpetrators' been seen off the premises, and barred.

Obvious undesirables, and those selling sunglasses, dubious pharmaceuticals, mobile phones, sexual favours and other unrelated wares, are turned away at the point of entry or as soon as they are spotted, and barred. So too are dodgy-looking dudes whose attention has apparently been attracted by the pretty girls to be seen there.

Maggie’s kind of market

CONDUCTIVE WORLD MARKET has been intended to for three purposes:
  • for the obvious purpose of making it easier to find jobs and to buy and sell in Conductive Education
  • to make more widely visible something of what is going on in the world of CE, by revealing trends worldwide through how people describe what they do and what they want.
  • encouraging a rather more explicit 'market place' in the Thatcherite sense, in which more open trade and competition, might help create more realistic salaries and conditions of service.
The first of these purposes has been to some degree fulfilled. Conductor-recruitment no longer depends wholly upon word of mouth, personal introduction and networking. As for the second, perhaps such advertising does add to the limited sources of information for those who aim to grasp the broader picture.

For the third, helping creation of a market economy for employment within CE, who knows? If public online job adverts have helped to curtail the excesses of international CE’s early cowboy years, then so well and good. Its potential for a competitive market remains limited, however, until more advertisers become less coy over announcing actual salaries.

It has primarily the labour of conductors that is traded in this market, though at times there are adverts for some of the others whose labour (paid or unpaid) contributes significantly to Conductive Education's economy.

Vacant places in CE services?

Also relatively rare are adverts for vacancies at CE centres or in short-term conductive experiences (summer camps etc.) There are, however, conductive services with unfilled places for children – and less frequently for adults – and their there are even services reportedly starved of clients.

As any market-trader will tell you, if you do not put your products on view, and shout your wares, then your customers will go to somebody who does.

Enter the Conductive World Market

Friday, 15 July 2016


Part of something bigger

Some weeks ago Norman Perrin blogged that he did not understand 'the math' in a recent account by the organisation Cerebra of why it funds its neuro-coreligionists in Barcelona:

I am often puzzled by those adverts in which somebody in a white coat and a big smile presents statistics, flashes up histograms, to persuade me to buy this or that product. Like most other sensible people, it never occurs to me to take a word of such things seriously. I have long since ceased to be concerned about the substance of what is being said. I am just amazed that the advertising industry finds it worthwhile pumping out such tosh year after year. I fall back on a couple of connected explanations:
  1. there are enough daft, desperate and/or ill-informed people out there for these expensive productions to maintaining or even increase sales
  2. The whole business is a part of wider conspiracy, maintaining a common front that some Emperor (especially advertising itself) does indeed have clothes
Everybody wins? Well, the people involved in selling me something may experience short-term commercial gains. But do the punters benefit beyond any glow, excitement or some other satisfaction from taking part in the commercial process?

The site that Norman refers to, raising money to pay for some of that further research that we hear is always needed, is another advert for somebody's product. It promises long-term effects upon 'neurodevelopment' and 'neurobehaviour' – though it does not say what such phenomena are.

And not very subliminally it is promoting an ideology, one with its own model of the relationship of mind and brain and the essence of human psychic (mental) development, what Jan Macvarrish has called – ideological attempt to discover the essence of humanity in the brain

This is concretised heres in the immediate economic effect of justifying jobs for a particular kind of researchers, whose work is part of a wider whole, in Ben Wilbrink's words – that in essence is not scientific whatsoever, yet parades as scientific in almost all relevant aspects: professorates, promotions, academic institutions, academic journals.

Good luck to them all, one might say. After all it's all work for the working man, and woman. Except that it gets in the way of society's attention to often serious matters, and the serious consideration and changes that they merit.

Conductive Education

Conductive Education deals with serious problems, that certainly merit serious consideration and some serious changes. I have nothing against job-creation, or against intellectual enquiry ('research'), or the two in combination. Conductive Education has offered a door that could have opened a door potentially enormous human advancement. If only they were treated seriously.

I am strongly suspicious of almost any word with the suffix 'neuro-' for so often, as the Melancholy Jacques put it –
It is but an invocation to call fools into the ring

Not every such word. Neuropsychology for example can signify real hard science. Indeed, neuropsychology as originally construed by A. R. Luriya offered Conductive Education firm connection with the workings of the brain in its wider human context, with higher mental functions founded in social-historical experience and based upon extracerebral connections.

Chance missed. So it goes...

I suppose that there is still time to take up that baton. No longer my problem to fret about.

PS To be fair, there's nothing special about the neuro-jobs in this respect. Think of all the pseudo-scientific psychobabblers, the worlds of therapy, education, 'management' etc... a huge, heavy slab of our economy tottering upon marshmallow theoretical foundations.

I no longer feel inclined to fret about these either...

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