Saying what you do, and what you think
On Facebook yesterday I posted notification of a summer CE experience organised by Judit Szathmáry one of the range of such experiences offered annually around the world. I woke this morning to see that this posting had been shared and commented upon:
I did not know precisely what to say for the best about this, so I sat up and wrote the following (far from precise) blog posting anyway. Sorry that it is so 'personal', but that surely is one of the things that blogs are for.
Being involved with Conductive Education over the years has brought me many dilemmas, not uniquely I am sure. One of these has been on how much to say of what I think, and how best to say it.
Just how outright should one be when expressing what one thinks of the actions, practices, ideas, views of others, in and out of the field of Conductive Education? What is the ideal balance between the one hand transparency, openness, honest debate, and on the other being sensitive to the feelings of others and encouraging not discouraging them to make their contributions?
I certainly have had no wish to upset people for the sake of my personal contrarianism, anyone, and most certainly not people who have faced up to circumstances and achieved things such I could never myself manage.
Further, when I was responsible for an institution I was very aware that fundraisers and funders, and others, could be very unhappy with being involved in 'controversy'. So sometimes (too often) I held back.
For such reasons, and because I shy away from from conflict and confrontation (in other words I am a bit of a coward) I tended take the line of least resistance. In doing so, I do not think that I have always got the balance right for the longer-term benefit of the cause that I hope to serve. I do not always get it 'right' Some like it, saying that they are glad that someone has spoken out. Others do not and I look back on some unpleasant experiences. There is no right or wrong answer to such dilemmas. Every adult faces them, and children have to learn that they are part of life. There is often no simple right or wrong answer. You are damned if you do and damned if you don't.
Most who come into Conductive Education, as users or providers,most certainly do not wish or willing to be involved in conflict. They want to get on with what they are doing and achieve their personal goals for their own good and the good of others. Doing so they can meet some extraordinary barriers and display corresponding ingenuity and dedication. In such circumstances encouragement can help. Public scorn does not.
Over the years I have tried to encourage people to innovate and to share what they have tried. Conductive Education around the world includes a huge well of creativity and imagination of potential benefit to all, not just in Conductive Education – as long as it can be shared without fear or other constraint. Mea culpa, I have done my time as a 'purist' about Conductive Education but the relevance and benefit of this stance depends wholly on what you are trying to achieve. Be as 'pure' as you wish, but be clear and explicit to yourself as much as others about what it is you are trying to say and to what end, recognising that others live their lives in different worlds and may wish and need to do things differently.
I once naively thought that new communication technology would free up the sharing initiatives, potential leads, possible ways forward, and by diversifying practice generate the context from which deeper theoretical understandings of Conductive Education could potentially be generated (and everyone knows what a desperate hole yawns in that department). Over the years, again and again I have seen the aversive responses that people can experience when they describe what they do or state their views, and heard how it has hurt them and pushed them out of the public domain.
Whatever their intended specific purposes of such aversive comments, their longer-term effect may be toxic, corrosive to the well-being and prospects of Conductive Education as a whole.
Precisely on this his issue, Mária Hári, not always the most tolerant soul, used to say:
There are many roads to Rome
One can be critical in a positive and friendly manner, enter into dialogue, 'agree to disagree', be a 'critical friend', and we can all of us learn better ways.