Tuesday, 28 February 2017


Lisa rants (her own word)

My spidey senses are tingling ... one of my boxers travelled up north to receive stem cells from here ... they drew stem cells from fat tissue via liposuction and implanted (through injection to the arm) the same day. It was VERY expensive. I haven't seen literature on this procedure; check out the specialist's experience and qualifications - mostly in cosmetic surgery! - plus my boxer who had this done also has leukemia which according to this flyer should disqualify him... I'm still prepared to applaud my client for being willing to try things and to be hopeful that he sees benefit - but I feel like someone is laughing their way to the bank on someone else's desperation and vulnerability....

Lisa Gombinsky writes that she would love to hear other people's thoughts on this (presumably via Facebook)..

A mite more background;


Neuro-ideology on road  

[Neuro-] myths are a drain on time and money, and it is important to explore and expose them. So which popular neuromyths exist in schools and how did they catch on?


Such things cannot be said too often. Underneath, however, still lies the great unspoken darkness of biological determination, holding pervasive ideological hegemony over our society's understanding of what it is that forms  our humanity.

Amongst other ills, this ideology brings with it the assumption that motor disorders are physical (biological) in their essence, and consequently in their 'treatment' too (and don't forget its hegemony within psychiatry and 'mental illness' too, never mind the ordinary circumstances of developing childhood and education).

Oliver Sacks spoke of –

...the stultifying phrenological neurology... [that] could be replaced by the wonderful notion of functional systems with different components.

Phrenology was an earlier science of cerebral localisation, as illustrated by the picture above borrowed from the article in the Guardian. We are all too sophisticated nowadays to thing anything of the sort – aren't we? Are we sure?

Sunday's posting on Oliver Sacks and A. R. Luriya related to this:

The Guardian's report provided classic empirical (psychological) demonstrations of a wider something in operation.

Because it is unlikely that the popularity of neuroscience findings in the public sphere will wane any time soon, we see in the current results more reasons for caution when applying neuroscientific findings to social issues. Even if expert practitioners can easily distinguish good neuroscience explanations from bad, they must not assume that those outside the discipline will be as discriminating.

The use of brain images to represent the level of brain activity associated with cognitive processes influenced ratings of the scientific merit of the reported research, compared to identical articles including no image, a bar graph, or a topographical map. This effect occurred for fictional articles that included errors in the scientific reasoning in the articles, and in a real article in which there were no such errors. The present results lend support to the oft mentioned notion that there is something particularly persuasive about brain images with respect to conferring credibility to cognitive neuroscience data.

I myself, having long given up on being a psychologist, find an ideology-based explanation sufficient for everyday practical purposes.

Either way, Conductive Education offers a powerful demonstration of a quite contrary (pedagogic) model in operation. Its substantive benefits aside, the essence of the practice of Conductive Education should be defended, protected, treasured, for this wider social purpose too.

At the very least sound a caution next time you are presented with neuro-assertions concerning Conductive Education – or, worse, you are tempted yourself to express some of your own.


Bradley, B. et al. (2017) Four neuromyths that are still prevalent in schools – debunked, Guardian, 24 February

McCabe, D. P. (2008) Seeing is believing: the effect of brain images on judgments of scientific reasoning, Cognition, vol. 107 , pp. 343–352

Weisberg, D. S. (2008) The seductive allure of neuroscience explanations, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, vol. 20, no 3, pp. 470-477

Sunday, 26 February 2017


(Play it again)

A photo of Oliver Sacks, courtesy of Oliver Sacks. Five years ago Conductive World facebooked a video of an interview with Oliver Sacks:

There so much concentrated into this video's eight minutes that should be reassuring to those concerned with the proper understanding, scientific credibility and, well, the sheer contextualisation of Conductive Education, that it seems well worth flagging this video again in 2017:

A few convenient links have been added below as annotation.

Ways forward for Conductive Education?
Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoor
Here is just one sample of what Oliver Sacks says on the video, in this case about how he had felt when he came across Aleksandr Luriya's neuropsychology –

...the stultifying phrenological neurology... could be replaced by the wonderful notion of functional systems with different components

So much more appropriate a way of thinking about the development (and redevelopment) of neuropsychological processes than 'rewiring the brain', or 'creating new pathways'. Potentially so much more productive too.

Aleksandr Luriya had died in 1977. Oliver Sacks died in 2015. The tradition that Luriya helped establish continues. For a taste of where this intellectual tradition can lead, see:

How refreshing it would be to see such a scientific narrative of Conductive Education spun through a Romantic Science (and how compatible, I suspect, with some at least of the thinking of András Pető)....

A conductor writes:

Some references

(n.d.) Oliver Sacks about Alexander Luria (video)

Mallett, S. (2011) An open letter to Dr Oliver Sacks, Conductor (blog), 23 October

Mikadze, Yu. V. (2014) The principles of plasticity in Lurian neuropsychology, Psychology & Neuroscience, vol. 7, no 4, pp. 435-441.

Sutton, A. (2012) Romantic science: a suitable methodology for CE research, Conductive World, 26 February

Sutton, A. (2012) A nice old bloke on a nice old bloke, Oliver Sacks speaks on A. R. Luriya and Romantic science, Conductive World (Facebook), 26 February

Sutton, A. (2015) Oliver Sacks (1933-2015): neurologist and motorcyclist, Conductive World, 3 September

Friday, 24 February 2017


Declutter time

Here in Middle England, yesterday was a day of Atlantic gales. More rain is forecast for tomorrow. Today though it looked a bit like spring, enough so to turn the mind to spring-cleaning.

And to remind one of Conductive Education's Great Spring Clean – more overdue by the year.

Conductive World posted on this a year ago, wondering about the process of cluttering in this field and, more importantly, how best to go about tidying, sorting, decluttering. Not surely by means of ad hoc processes of the sort that brought about the situation in the first place.

Explicit theoretical positions linked to formal programmes of structured R&D (research and development) might help clear out some treasured bric-a-brac – and argue for the protection and reinstallation of some old things neglected or forgotten.

Last year's posting on this topic

Sutton, A. (2016) Ist das Kunst Oder kann das weg? Is this important or can it be thrown away? Conductive World, 24 February

Thursday, 23 February 2017


Interest in Conductive Education
Eva Bower and Do Michael

A small contribution to the rough and tough story of the long struggle for Conductive Education around the world –

During the early years of her career in paediatric physiotherapy, Eva mainly worked in special schools including during the 1960s at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt School in Swiss Cottage.

An early example of her openness to novel approaches followed attendance at a Margaret Rood sensorimotor stimulation course. Eva arrived back at FDR with a battery driven rotating paint brush which she then used on a number of the children, to much amusement but little physical effect. However, her drive to find new and improved strategies for children with cerebral palsy was not diminished.

Some time after this, she and her physiotherapy colleague Do Michael were sacked by Miss Duffield, the head of Middlesex PT schools. Their crime was to start up and run a conductive rehabilitation Peto group at FDR after a visit to the Watford Spastics Centre run by Dorothy Seglow and Esther Cotton...

Written by Eva's son Professor Mark Bower, to mark Eva's retirement in November 2013 as Editor of the Association of Chartered Paediatric Physiotherapists Journal.


Bower, M. (2005) Eva Bower – A career in paediatric physiotherapy, Association of Chartered Paediatric Physiotherapists Journal, vol. 5, no 1, p. 3

Tuesday, 21 February 2017


You couldn't make it up

University students who buy essays on line face fines and a criminal record under plans to punish plagiarism being considered by the [UK] government...

Now the Department of Education has announced it is consulting with universities over how to crack down on cheating students

The DfE is currently consulting on a number of proposals with higher education bodies, ranging from fines, academic blacklists, and even criminal records for students found submitting professionally-written essays...

The Quality Assurance Agency, the universities regulator, is consulting with the government and is pushing for new laws.

The new guidance is due to be implemented in September, in order to coincide with the beginning of the next academic year.

Plenty more on this:

I see here that a PhD thesis could set one back up to £6,750.

And I recall being told by Mária Hári that a long time ago, in Vienna, András Pető used to supplement his income by writing other people's theses. In that context at least, she did not seem to regard this as particularly reprehensible.


Yorke, H. (2017) University students could be fined or handed criminal records for plagiarised essays, new proposals suggest, Daily Telegraph, 21 February

Previously on Conductive World

Sutton, A. (2010) Plagiarism: big and small, Conductive World, 20 March

Sutton, A. (2012) What price plagiarism? Conductive World, 19 January

Monday, 20 February 2017


More on that lecture in Nottingham

Late last night Conductive World reported the online announcement of a lecture on 'The role of Conductive Education in an early years setting' by conductor Kirsten Bairstow-Robb. In less than twenty-four hours since then more than two-hundred people from around the world have linked to this blog posting, with an unknown number seeing the associated entry on Facebook:

The lecture is part of a series, 'SEN and Disabilities Seminar Series 2016/17':

open to all students and staff in the School of Education and staff in partner schools.

Admission is by ticket provided upon application and is free of cost. The lecture is preceded by refreshments. How very familiar it all seems, a traditional event such has been held in the UK's schools of ed. seemingly from time immemorial.

Why so interesting?

Semi-public lectures on aspects of Conductive Education are so rare nowadays. Why might this be? You can take your choice of suggested answers to that question – there's a PhD waiting to be done there. But of immediate note here is why this bald little report has attracted such rapid and widespread interest on line.

Is it something inherent in the particular topic that touches a button, early-age intervention? Or is it the medium, which could suggest an unsatisfied appetite for semi-public lectures/seminars on Conductive Education generally? Few of those who read about this on line will be able to get to suburban Nottingham that evening in March, but whatever has drawn their interest to this on line, one of the Comments on Facebook might speak for a quite general feeling:

Can you please send the materials of your lecture Kristen Bairstow-Robb or upload somewhere? ... I think others would be interested too.

Sunday, 19 February 2017


At Nottingham University

SEN and Disabilities Seminar Series 2016/17

The role of Conductive Education
in an early years setting

Kirsten Bairstow-Robb
School for Parents


Wednesday, 15 March, 2017

(preceded by refreshments)

Conductive education is a holistic approach to education which seeks to teach individuals with brain injuries how to connect and engage with the world around them. this seminar will look at some of the effects of brain injuries on learning and will focus on how the parents of children with brain injuries can be involved in their child’s development. in addition the session will look at some of the tools used in our pre-school setting to promote and enhance learning.

Admission free, by ticket
16 tickets remaining

The lecture series

Perhaps these are not public lectures, open to all:


Those interested in attending will have to enquire via the above link.

Saturday, 18 February 2017


On Facebook

Touching briefly upon some important aspects of the state of Conduction Education, so far and to come, and leaving plenty yet to say:

These Comments have arisen from two postings on Conductive World:

What has been said in these Comments inevitably raises further questions that are important in their own right.

Please do comment further...

Friday, 17 February 2017


Another hole in the wall

One pervasive and longstanding problem

Yesterday I posted an item on Conductive World, concerned with the problem of Conductive Education's maintaining core features when its practice is embedded in contrary and sometimes actively inimical social contexts.

I was alluding to a problem that I have known in reality since the mid-eighties (though even before then it took small imagination to see it coming!) From that outset this conflict of paradigms was often played out pretty nastily (no surprise here, either). All these years later, I have no means of measuring whether things are better or worse.

I regard there still to be fundamental problems in any attempt to introduce a different paradigm into an already established (and entrenched) system of provision. I suspect that this philosophical (or ideological) transfer to be superordinate to a somewhat lower level of problems, those relating to national or 'cultural' differences – though in Conductive Education such comment as there is on this question rarely rises above this level (and is rarely described in concrete terms). It goes without saying that in such situations the possibility of misunderstanding, confusion, conflict, etc. is not necessarily restricted to players within the little world of Conductive Education.

None of this means that steps may not be necessary to resolve such specific problems as arise – or indeed that, either by design or higgledy-piggledy, a general approach or strategy should not appear. Two differing paths were suggested in yesterday's posting:
  • the established thought community, the existing hegemony, might give way and incorporate fundamental tenets of the new arrival, or
  • the new arrival might begin absorbing fundamental aspects of both theory and practice from existing ways of thinking and doing, and be slowly buried in the very soil in which it wants to take root.
I made no suggestion what to do about this situation, simply asking whether people might have ideas of how to proceed along some third way.

This is an obscure methodological question, no doubt, and though I have been trying to express it clearly for years, I am very aware that I may still not do so..

So yesterday, inevitably, I was misunderstood.

A comment on Facebook

Each time that I post on Conductive World (the blog) I notify something of the content of the new posting on Conductive World (the Facebook page), to attract the attention of some of those who might otherwise miss it. Quite often such Facebook entries generate discussion in their own right (something that the actual blog posting rarely does nowadays (why this is I do not know).

Among yesterday's Shares and the Likes on Facebook, a respondent posted something longer, a personal cri de cœur about internecine behaviour that she has met among conductors. She apologised that she might have misunderstood my posting (in return I should apologise back that I may have been less than clear!). She wrote that she had been deeply affected by sniping and negativity, sufficient to withdraw almost completely from her previous contribution to the public sphere.

I know her, she is no shrinking violet but a bold, brave lady, and far from being the only such to have reported similar mobbing and bullying over the years by conductor no-accounts, leading to a similar wish to have no more to do to with public life of Conductive Education. Read what she says in full, for yourself:

Not uniquely, in this instance the behaviour reported has come from a particular group within CE, to be blunt from some of the large number of conductors trained at the Pető Institute (now PAF).For her part she had been trained in the UK, through the FCE. Granting that my own history precludes me from a wholly impartial opinion on what has been reported here, I would rush to asset that this is far from a universal behaviour in this population. I have heard of it, however, from different parts of the world and from conductors of every level of experience – and it can be 'institutional' as well as individual.

My correspondent went on to suggest that such attitudes and behaviour are a factor  standing in the way of conductors' proper professionalisation in the full modern sense of this term. I see no reason to nay-say this – though I still regard there to be more fundamental components to Conductive Education's problems though, if bold imaginative spirits are being driven underground by Yahoos, this may in turn impede solving the major problem with which I opened this posting.

Conductors. Necessary? Sufficient?

I have never needed to point out to people involved in the development and advancement of Conductive Education over the years that conductors are not necessarily the only nor necessarily the most important players in the Conductive Education story. To put it another way, the full and effective participation of conductors in the debates both in and around Conductive Education seems necessary to advance this field – but not sufficient to move Conductive Education forward and keep it on the road. Conductors have played important roles but not necessarily leading ones in the this story – and not always necessarily progressive ones.

I state nothing here that that has not been widely discussed over the years, and not just by 'non-conductors'. If some conductors find this a surprise, then I suggest that they ask themselves why it comes as such, and what this might imply about themselves and their personal positions within the whole.

Again, to paraphrase the well-known meme, Conductive Education is too serious a matter to be left to conductors.

I do not, by the way, suggest that along the way Hungarian conductors have not suffered all sorts of professional discriminations and indignities from both outside Conductive Education and within (though these too seem to receive little airing in the public domain).

More than thirty years down the road of internationalisaing Conductive Education, well into the second decade of the twenty-first century, and with some remarkable successes, nay triumphs, to report, Conductive Education still faces all sorts of fundamental problems. Objective reality surely puts enough its way. Should it still have to put up with such subjective ones too?

Thursday, 16 February 2017


(The cost of compromise?)

I have seen this on a CE centre's website –
...the children were very busy today… and more importantly – having lots of fun!
Well meaning, good-hearted words, representing a widely expressed sentiment, but think hard about what they say, very hard.
Think too of the ever-widening range of activities now referred to as Conductive Education, about the range of interests and agendas being served, the constituencies being addressed, the conflicts being avoided.
Consider so many visual and verbal messages about Conductive Education now conveyed to the world. What notions of Conductive Education now prevail?

* * *

I recall some twenty-odd years ago being asked by a young conductor who had been long enough in the UK to realise the degree of incomprehension and opposition around Conductive Education –
 Oh, when will they stop fighting us?
I had naught for her comfort, except to say –
 When we are no longer any different from how they are.
Since then, has the great, defensive mass of the existing professional-administrative complex shifted significantly towards major positions manifest in Conductive Education? Or will mutual accommodation come as a result of a contrary process, with Conductive Education's finding a niche in established host communities by sinking quietly into existing ways of thinking?
Likely my way of thinking is simplistic and outmoded and there are other models for expressing the problem and possible ways of accommodation. What are they?

Tuesday, 14 February 2017


András Pető finds work 
Russian Soldier Budapest.JPG

Critical readers of András Pető's life story (such of this as is available) might reasonably wonder amongst other things how so soon in 1945 he came to be appointed to the staff of the College of Special Education. 
The dire circumstances of the time and the intervention of his friend Miklós Kun, combine to suggest an explanation:
(Budapest surrendered unconditionally on 13 February 1945)