Wednesday, 26 October 2016


But it is not a treatment
(Or a therapy)

From the concluding discussion of a research report on an intervention for autism, that centred upon parents rather than their children –

...optimising naturalistic parent–child social communication in the home setting. The theoretical advantage of this approach over direct therapist–child therapy is that it has potential for change in the everyday life of the child, in which much social learning takes place, and might continue to have sustained effects after the end of the therapist-delivered intervention to the parent. Evidence from the initial trial mediation analysis supported this theoretical model of action by showing that it was the treatment effects on parent interaction style that were responsible for the positive child change during the treatment period. The current follow-up analysis shows a loss of this original treatment effect on parental synchrony over time, but maintenance of the effects on child communication and symptom-change. This finding suggests that the improvement in child communication and autism symptoms during treatment could have become self-sustaining during the years following the end of treatment, independent of the initial parental behavioural change that mediated them. This finding lends support to the theoretical rationale behind a developmental approach in which targeting of pivotal precursor social communication skills can lead to improvements in developmental trajectories, further supporting the notion that a parent-mediated approach can lead to sustained effects beyond the end of treatment....

Strip away the guff and the jargon and what does this report say? Parents get help in bringing up their developmentally disordered children and things tend to get better. The help is then discontinued and the families left to fend for themselves. Nearly six years later, some relative beneficial effect is still discernible from what was done.

Er, that's it, isn't it? To put it differently, better upbringing helps bring up children better, but don't ask how long it takes to bring up a child.

Without denying the validity of this report in its own terms, stand back from it and ask what it says underneath, what has been happening in the real world, beyond the way in which it is recounted here – and what is the wider social narrative of which this is part. Wonder why it is reported in a medical journal, construed in terms of a condition and treatment (and researched accordingly), Wonder too about intervening in childhood and childrearing for a finite period.

If you are concerned with so-called autism then you may have your own specific questions to raise. But the psycho-social mechanisms that may act to disorder the course of human development can hardly differ fundamentally from child to child, from upbringing to upbringing,

If you are concerned with motor disorders and more specifically with Conductive Education, then you might wonder about the relevance of all this to what families are seeking, and what services are providing. Yes, that also relates to conductive services, or experiences, or however one states them.

More research is needed, it says. But this kind?

If you would prefer a mediated account of this study (therefore slightly more easy to read), try the one in the Guardian (written by its Health Editor!):


Boseley, S. (2016) Study offers potential breakthrough in care of children with autism, Guardian, 25 October

Pickles, A. et al. (2016) Parent-mediated social communication therapy for young children with autism (PACT): long-term follow-up of a randomised controlled trial, The Lancet, 25 October

Tuesday, 25 October 2016


A voice from the time

German conductor Anna Wittig published this blog three years ago, straight after 8th World Congress in Germany, so it has the virtues and the limitations of the proverbial policeman's notebook.

Anne always expresses herself well, however, far better than proverbial Plod in the witness box...

Monday, 24 October 2016


It might even help

At one time, a while back now, postings on Conductive World used to generate extensive and at times passionate Comments. They no longer do. Perhaps Conductive World has changed, perhaps it is the world that has. Likely both.

Conductive Education does is not characterised by the sort of open internal discussion and debate that could contribute positively to the refinement and development of its art and science – and to its proper communication to the world in which it is embedded.

Here is a rare published analysis of this, from 2009, from Judit Szathmáry. The specific point at issue was that families were blogging that they had picked up on Conductive Education, and pursued it with enthusiasm. Then moved on. They had 'done' Conductive Eduction. Conductive Education has other unfaced big issues. Judit's analysis applies.

Judit's nine points

Judit wrote –
I believe we should be talking about this openly and honestly too. So why don’t we? It comes down to many factors. 
Lack of tradition to discuss sensitive issues openly.Lack of time.
Lack of confidence.
Lack of trust in not being judged by others having an opinion, maybe an opinion, which doesn’t fit in to the common points of views.
A deep-seated insecurity within the conductive community.
A ‘rather to be right than happy’ attitude – by not talking about sensitive and relevant issues we don’t risk to be found wrong, but we also deprive ourselves of learning from each other and growing.
A misconception about asking questions. If I ask they think I am stupid or I don’t know. Forgetting that the forever-enquiring mind creates enormous potentials for finding intelligent solutions.
A lack of ability and precedence to communicate with respect and take upon a disagreement with honour.
A lack of belief that anyone would care to engage into conversation over the Internet.
I could go on…and on… I am as much as fault with the above as many of us in the world of Conductive Education.

There are other factors that I can guess, and others too that I have had described to me as contributing to the situation, including some quite dark ones.

Here's a historical perspective, from Emma MacDowell (which includes the reported view of the eminent sociologist Elemér Hankiss):

And I have to add that like Judit there have been times that I have trodden very carefully, too carefully. Less so than I did, once but at times I still do.

I have no idea what to do about this. KBO may not be enough.

Sunday, 23 October 2016


What can this mean today?

Freedom Fighter Statue of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution in Cleveland's Cardinal Mindszenty Plaza - photos by Dan Hanson

Today is 23 October 2016 and the 60th anniversary of the student demonstration in Budapest triggering the events in 1956 that came to be known as the Hungarian Uprising, or Revolution, or Counter-Revolution, take you pick.


Time was when it has been relatively unproblematical for the Western media to report this – you know brave, decent, unblemished and freedom-loving little nation standing up to the mighty Soviet Empire and then being ruthlessly suppressed, while we Brits with others were busy elsewhere knocking spots off Egypt (not that we could or would have done much if anything anyway to help out Hungary).

That aside, we and the rest of 'the West' were soon doing the decent thing for the thousands of refugees who fleeing their re-oppressed homeland. We took them in, and that was something that have been able to look back on and celebrate, unproblematically.


In 2016, however, things are a bit different. Whatever virtues and achievements of that little country, most people frankly know very little of it, though that there has been rising awareness in the Western media that all might not be well, and that Hungary might not be quite the brave, decent, unblemished and freedom-loving little nation once believed.

A 60th anniversary is quite a milestone, but so far this one has been little recognised in the West, at least if in so far as the English-speaking media round the world are concerned. The short-lived withdrawal of Soviet power in 1956, especially it final act and aftermath, will soon give other sixtieth anniversaries from 1986, so doubtless we may soon hear a little more.

For a time, when I was a lad, the words 'Hungarian' and 'refugee' often came together in a single breath. This year, however, reminders by Western media of what happened in Budapest in 1986 may occur but rarely without explicit reminder that the words 'refugee'' and 'Hungary' now have ironically different associations.

The bubble reputation

I recall being told by Mátyás Domokos Hungarian Ambassador to London from 1984 to 1989 that the national publicity in the United Kingdom in 1986 and the years that followed,generated by the campaign to introduce Conductive Education, with its associated events, had done more for Hungary's reputation than anything in the thirty years since 1956. As a mere Brit, but one closely involved with that,

I think that he was probably right! I doubt, though, that there is anything nowadays that could tip the weight of public opinion in Hungary's way in media circles (and yes, I do know about Kazakhstan).

The bubble has burst.

Saturday, 22 October 2016


Egy könyvet angolul

Pető András egy gyógyító volt. Nehéz és viharos körülmények között, a háborút követő időkben, bénult gyermekek és felnőttek mozgás-terápiájából fejlesztette ki azt a pedagógiai módszert, ahonnan a mostani konduktiv nevelés gyökerei erednek.

Valójában ki volt Pető? Tulajdonképpen mit csinált? Mi volt igazaból a módszere? Meglepően kevés információ áll az érdeklődő rendelkezésére, még azok között is, akik szenvedélyes követői. Életét és halálát is sok misztika övezi.

Ez a könyv azon visszaemlékezéseknek a gyüjteménye, amelyek Petőhöz közel álló ismerőseitől és kollegáitól származnak. Néhány ezek közül már korábban is megjelenésre került, mások erre az alkalomra iródtak avval a céllal, hogy megpróbálják bemutatni és megértetni Pető András életét és munkásságát. Itt most angol forditásban olvasható az eredetileg magyarul, németűl és angolul összegyűjtött anyag.

Ezen kivül a könyv bemutatja Pető néhány eredeti, hallgatóinak irottjegyzetét, amit Pető abban az időben készitett, amikor a mozgás-pedagógia átvette a mozgás-terápia szerepét. Néhány, Pető mentalitását hűen tükröző vers is bemutatásra kerül; itt angol forditásban, együtt az eredeti magyar és német nyelven irodott másolatokkal.

Ez a könyv segitségre lehet azon titkok és rejtelmek megfejtéséhez, amelyek Pető életét övezik és hozzájárulhat ahhoz, hogy az olvasó felépitsen egy kritikus képet arról, hogy ki is volt Pető valójában és mit csinált. A könyv további célja, hogy segitse az olvasót abban, hogy megkérdőjelezze azt a tudás-alapot, amit idáig Pető Andrásról és munkájáról tudtunk, és, hogy segitséget adjon az olvasónak ahhoz, hogy ennek ismeretében kritikusan átértelmezze a konduktiv pedagógia jelenlegi gyakorlatát.

Ez a könyv nem egy zárszó. A Pető-tanulmányok még további kutatásra és kibontakozásra várnak.

(2014) CEP Quotationary of András Pető, Birmingham, Conductive Education Press, 2014

Friday, 21 October 2016


A real problem?

Not for the first time the valuable site in the Buda hills around Kútvölgi út in Budapest is attracting the interest of powerful forces with priorities other than Conductive Education and motor disorders.

This was reported in a week ago in a pro-government newspaper Magyar Idők ('Hungarian Times'). This was flagged up very briefly on Conductive World's Facebook page, where it caused no apparent excitement: 

Here's the gist of the Hungarian news item in English, for those who consider such matters.

The title of last week's report was 'New details on the Buda super-hospitals'

It appears that the search is on for a site to build a thousand-bed hospital in Buda. An architect has been appointed:
  • One proposed location in Buda has good transport links but the disadvantage of utilising greenfield land.
  • A more urban setting up the road from the János Kórház (St John's Hospital) has poorer transport links but there are plans to improve these. The land and buildings of the former military institute across the Villányi út from the PAF still stand vacant and present a possibility,
Things are still in the air.

Years ago the site across Villányi út was subject to plans for a massive International Pető Institute but this came to nothing when a misjudged International Appeal met no significant response.


Haiman, É. (2014) , Újabb részletek a budai szuperkórházakról, 14 October

Wednesday, 19 October 2016


Stick with it

At a World Congress...

I am reminded that six years ago today Tünde Rózsahegyi published on line visuals for presentation to WC7 in 2008 in Hong Kong:

She was reporting the beginnings of her PhD study. It took a lot of time, a lot of work and a lot of money, at a Russell Group university no less. Her successful thesis was published in 2014*:

I presume that some of the presentations at WC8 near Munich in 2013 are now well along that long road – and that WC9 in Budapest this December will see others at the very beginning.

Take heart, good luck – and publish.

Tünde's thesis


This research examined outlooks on early development and learning of young children with cerebral palsy. Using a research framework informed by Urie Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological model of child development, which integrates scrutiny of ‘person’, ‘process’, ‘context’ and ‘time,’ in combination with an exploratory case-study design, the study focused on the perceptions of a range of stakeholders in a local authority in the West Midlands of England as well as the observed experiences of children themselves.

Research questions required examination of stakeholders’ perspectives of the developmental and learning identities of these children, the contextual circumstances for their early educational support, the processes by which their progression was or should be pursued, and future aspirations held for them. The final research question related the revealed outlooks to children’s own observed educational experiences. The wide-ranging review of literature highlighted differences in academic perspectives on child development and disability, also a complex national ‘patchwork’ of early intervention for disabled children in general and for those with cerebral palsy in particular.

The empirical study was pursued through questionnaire surveys of parents and practitioners, also interviews with support-service managers and with parents and practitioners of six target children who were subsequently observed in their early educational settings. Integration of quantitative and qualitative data enabled all research questions to be answered comprehensively and in depth.
Findings showed that stakeholders’ outlooks on the identity of children with cerebral palsy, evident in discourse and observed practice, were medically, socially or pedagogically oriented. Provision for these children was found to be extensive, but diverse in nature, not simply in terms of the services used, but also in relation to practitioners’ qualifications, experiences, levels of confidence and professional roles. A range of pedagogical processes was evident in the various contexts – differences related to use of space and equipment, adult support, opportunities for children’s socialization and other features. In terms of future aspirations, largely positive views were held, together with concern about the child’s acceptance in peer contexts, particular at times of transition.

Drawing from findings, the study argues for a more distinctive pedagogical identity for children with cerebral palsy, echoing the Vygotskian (1993) perspective of disabled children’s development as a socio-culturally influenced, exceptional phenomenon. Their development and early education should be perceived and pursued as an all-encompassing entity, with focus on motivation, interest and independence and reflecting strengthened notions of upbringing and pedagogy. Practical implications include renewed academic and professional discourse, revitalized training for professionals and greater practical involvement of parents in early educational provision.


* Access to Tünde's thesis has been restricted to the university's Repository staff until 14 November 2016. Access will then be open to all. I shall try to remember to post a reminder!


Rózsahegyi, T. (2010) Divergent perspectives on educational priorities for young children with cerebral palsy: A case study. Presentation to the 7th World Congress on Conductive Education, Hong Kong, 5-6 December 2008

Rózsahegyi, T. (2014) A bio-ecological case-study investigation into outlooks on the development and learning of young children with cerebral palsy. PhD thesis, University of Warwick

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


       PAF taken East. Wherever next?

A Press Release today from the Hungarian Foreign Ministry announces that representatives from the PAF (the András Pető College) have been part of a trade mission to Kazakhstan. Speaking in Almaty, Kazakhstan's former capital, Mihály Várga, Hungarian Minister of National Economy told a tape-cutting ceremony –
Education makes a new connection between Kazakhstan and Hungary, that further reinforces the sympathy and trust that exists between our countries...
The ceremony was to inaugurate a new centre, the Aruana Rehabilitation Center initiative, created by the Hungarian Government and the PAF.

There has been a pilot project involving 73 children.

The Minister said that he hopes for wider such collaborations involving other Hungarian companies and further Central Asian countries.

The story has been reported by some of the Hungarian press, in the form of extracts from the Ministry's Press Release. Népszabadság is out of the way, and so far Népszava has not picked it up. Perhaps the weeklies might have something to say about it.

It's another world.


Kaskhstan is the world's ninth largest country and has 18 million inhabitants. Is rich in oil and has the most advanced economy in Central Asia. It used to be a part of the Soviet Union but since 1989, even before the collapse of the Soviet Union, it has been ruled by Nursultan Nazarbayev. It is a sort of market economy but not a free country. It is known as a corruption hotspot.

What happens there now seems uncertain. Perhaps it will become one of those much admired 'illiberal democracies'.


(2016) A Pető-módszerrel gyógyítanak a kazahsztáni Almatiban, Budapest, Nemzetgazdasági Minisztérium, 18 October


Awkward word

'Specialist' is one of those unfortunate weasel words that can mean different things in different contexts and at at different times.

My mind is drawn to this question by a thread of Comments on Conductive World's Facebook page in which this word comes to the centre of attention:

Mária Hári spoke in English, in England, in 1970, about the essentially psychological/pedagogical nature of the work of conductors. Some of this has now been posted on line by Susie Mallett. I agree with Susie's view, the passage that she quotes is one of the best things that Mária wrote and well worth further airing. Read it for yourself on Susie's Conductor blog. When Maria was good, she was very very good:

What has attracted Facebook discussion today has been Mária's concluding point, that conductors' work did not proceed in isolation. She was referring of course to 1970 and András Pető's little institute just three years after he had died –
...there are specialists in every profession who are helping regularly.

All these years later, and looking round the world, some conductors clearly do work in such a context, variously arranged according to where they are, some most certainly do not, and most conductors presumably fall somewhere in between. How their practice measures up within Mária's central theme in the passage quoted from above, I have no way of guessing. Again along some sort of range, I would guess.

I do not know the precise meaning of the word 'specialist ' referred to here from her work in Hungary in 1970. Indeed I do not now know what it meant to me in England in those distant days. Had I been at that meeting I suppose that I should have heard it as meaning medical specialists, though I might have been wrong.

In today's English, British English anyway, the word 'specialist has no single, simple meaning. The situation is confused in English education by use of the word 'specialist' to denote both a defined administrative category of school and occasionally and informally as a bit of a euphemism for 'special'. So a 'specialist school' in the English state sector may provide either a particular specialist curriculum, or be a coy way of referring to a special school for disabled pupils. At a formal level, of course, it is altogether appropriate to refer to a 'specialist special' school'. And there are indeed such schools.

In British medicine. I think, a specialist is a consultant. I could be wrong.

I like to think that foreigners organise their use of language rather better than we do in this country, but I could be wrong there too.


Australian-style reform elsewhere?

CE pioneer Sue O'Reily has published an extensive and detailed item on the new Australian NDIS, the National Disability Insurance Scheme. If what Sue says is right, the NDIS will mean that disabled people will at last get services that they want, and many existing services will meet their come-uppance. Australia will certainly be a country to watch. And to envy too.

Of course not every country and its services are structured like in Australia so, as things presently stand, many of us will be unable to do much more at the moment than stand and watch. As the future continues to unfold, though, and it becomes ever harder for developed societies to make ends meet, the time must surely come for root-and-branch reconsideration of just how things are presently structured closer to home

Wouldn't it be wonderful, for example, if the Gordian knot of the abject shambles of 'special educational needs' in England could be sliced right through by radial reform of this kind. I cannot see what other mechanism could achieve this in a society such as the one that I live in.

Oh dear, I think that I first wrote something along these lines about forty year ago, in the face of what then counted as an economic crisis. Since then, however, I watched the problems that I railed against then just get worse, and worse.

Does the day of the final reckoning at last approach? Might I really live to see it?

In the meantime, do read what Sue has written, follow what turns out in Australia, and watchfully await your own Day of Judgement .Or even work actively towards bringing it about.


O'Reilly, S, (2016) How the disability sector is being uberised, Australian Financial Review Magazine, 6 October

Monday, 17 October 2016


English version as well as Swedish

I just spotted something new to me –
Konduktiv pedagogik – ett pedagogiskt program för barn med Cerebral Pares 
Conductive education – an educational program for children with cerebral palsy
This is a very brief Swedish research review ('Reading time approx. 3 minutes') from SBU (Swedish Agency for Health Technology), as part of its medical Alert series. 

On line

The first version of this review was dated 16 June 2000 and as far as I can see it is not on line.

A second version, dated 31 October 2001, is on line and available, in Swedish only:

So is an English translation of Version 1. This is undated, but it possibly followed publication of Version 2 which it mentions:

Sorry if this seems a muddle. I just report this stuff.

Conductive Education, verdict

This review ends, as they often do –
...Treatment usually is carried out in groups and by a so-called conductor.
Conductive education has been assessed in only a few controlled studies in England and Australia. These studies have focused mainly on the child's progress in motor skills, and the method has been compared to traditional physiotherapy i.e. NDT or Bobath Therapy. No studies have shown differences among the children who received training through conductive education and those who received traditional treatment. It should be pointed out that the studies include only a limited number of children, which means it is difficult to draw reliable conclusions on the effects.
Alert finds there is poor* scientific documentation on conductive education as regards patient benefits and risks in the short term. There is no* scientific documentation concerning its long-term effects or cost effectiveness.
The lack of comparative scientific follow-up concerns not only conductive education in its various forms, but also many other treatment methods used in the treatment of Cerebral Palsy patients. To acquire an understanding of the overall effects of different rehabilitation programs, it is necessary to compare them with control groups that receive no treatment. It can be difficult to motivate such assessments of already established methods. However, before new methods are introduced it is important to demonstrate their advantages and disadvantages in relationship to, or as a complement to, established methods.

Reviews like this once came thick and fast and certainly played a role in impeding the progress of Conductive Education. They have not altogether halted it (witness its present commercial success in Sweden).

One may one day, however, see the likes of such stuff again. Perhaps. Be prepared, just in case.

What is SBU?
SBU evaluates methods used by medical and social services
We are an independent national authority, tasked by the government with assessing health care interventions from a broad perspective, covering medical, economic, ethical and social aspects.
SBU assessments are based on ‘systematic literature reviews’ of published research. The review method developed by SBU is thorough and rigorous.
SBU was founded in 1987. We are one of the oldest HTA (Health Technology Assessment) organisations in the world.

But not educational.

Forssberg, H., Rösblad, B., Sanner, G. (no date) Conductive Education – an educational program for children with cerebral palsy, SBU Alert, Stockholm, Statens Beredning för Medicinsk och Social Utvärdering

Saturday, 15 October 2016


30 November 2016

It is some time since I heard news of Franz.

He will be chairing a section of a day meeting at PAF at the end of next month, at the open event that PAF is contributing to this year's Science Festival organised by the Hungarian Academy of Science.

Franz is programmed to speak at the World CE Congress shortly afterwards, in December.

An event to share?

One of the topics to be presented at the Science Festival meeting is the PAF's new online publication, Science and Profession, the appearance of which raises hope that more of PAF's presentationsat this and similar events may now find their way into the public domain.

Topics of perhaps wider interest at this particular meeting are:
  • The disabled child in the family, parents' 'coping strategies' (Ilona Berente)
  • The present and future of the András Pető Institute (Krisztina Molnár)
  • Presentation of issue no 2 of Science and Profession (Renáta Földesi, Zsófia Kállay, István Tarsoly, Ádám Ágnes, Krisztina Molnár
See full programme

Science and Profession

Incidentally, István Tarsoly is Head of the Library.

Science Festival

PAF contributed to last year's Science Festival

This year's Festival will run from 3 to 30 November

Friday, 14 October 2016


Conductive special school in Ulm
Looking for children

Open evening – today!

Sonderpädagogische Schule
Im Schuljahr 2016/2017 besuchen elf körper- und mehrfachbehinderte Kinder im Alter zwischen 6 und 19 Jahren unsere Schule.
[Special pedagogic school. In the school year 2016-2017 we are looking for eleven physically and multiply disabled children for our school, between the ages of six and nineteen]

Two conductors and other staff

More info on this school


Old and new worlds

A brief formal notice has been published on the PAF's website to record a ceremony on 6 October at Villányi út, commemorating the death of Máriá Hári.

Vice-Rector Éva Szabó did the honours before Maria's memorial tablet, Nóra Beck recited a verse by poet Alexander Weöres, and flowers were placed in memory.

Previous item on Máriá Hári:


...on 10 October PAFs website linked to a local television news report of a mayoral press conference in the town of Gyula, to mark commencement of work on the Pető Premium Point and the South Plains Regional Pető Centre. Construction will be 'to comply with the highest international requirements' and it is planned to open for business in Summer 2017.

Previous mention of the Gyula project:

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