Sunday, 17 September 2017


Yes, you did read that right

Over a couple of days rather a lot of people have looked at Friday's posting on Conductive World, on the topic of research and practice:

For myself, it has again had me turning over in my mind the notion of 'evidence-based practice', an excellent concept in general terms but not so far fruitfully applied in the area of Conductive Education. For all the effort that has gone into researching conductive practice, I wonder whether any conductive practice can yet be described as 'evidence based on the basis of evaluations of the outcomes of conductive practice.

It would be interesting to know why this is so.

One line of thought, my own, is that outcome-evaluations of Conductive Education do really merit being problematicised in their own right. In other words, if they really are important, then they too should be researched. As far as I know, this has not yet happened. Research the research, why not? There is no reason to regard 'research' as sacrosanct, a Holy Cow with models, methodologies and practice above critical questioning and empirical investigation.

Come off it, pull the other one. Read the scientific press. Read the academic literature, all the way up to Nature and Science. Look around you and see the world as it is. To recognise that the people or institutions involved in research, their ideas and their practices, are potentially fallible is not to disrespect scholarship and science. It is merely to recognise that this sector can be like any other area of human activity, and for much the same reasons. It is not contrarian to question research and researchers. If the topic matters, as it has done in the case of Conductive Education, it is not just responsible to do so – it is vital.

On Friday evening, taking up again the phrase 'evidence-based practice'. I turned it over to see what is underneath, and wondered about its obvious antithesis: 'practice-based evidence'.

Nice one, I thought, and at once started thinking of how footling outcome-evaluations of conductive practice might measure up from such a perspective. I immediately realised, however, that the notion of practice-based evidence is far too obvious not to have already occurred in the wider world of research, in spades. A click across to Google and... well, you try it.

Practice-based evidence is already becoming a trodden field, with different ways of construing it, and a growing academic literature... Oh well, as ever, original ideas are hard to come by!

'Conductive Education research' is not presently a hot issue. Who knows, though, it might yet again have its day. Come that day and PBE – practice-based evidence – could prove a useful critical tool to have available in Conductive Education's armamentarium (tool kit) for interrogating future evaluations, while they are still at the stage of being planned if you have the chance, or for examining them after the deed is done if you do not.

In the meantime, you might also find that PBE offers another slant on the qualitative qualitative question...

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