Sunday, 11 June 2017


                              'Mi lesz a Petővel?' 

Illusztráció - Kállai Márton

A brief item in yesterday's Vasárnapi Hírek ['Saturday News'], under the headline 'Merger news: Staff cannot deny or confirm anything' –

What will become of Pető? 'There is nothing concrete, only promises,' say stakeholders about the merger that will come into effect on August 1, in which the Pető András College (better known as the Pető Intézet) will become part of Semmelweis University.

People in both institutions are being very close –

As there is no official government decision, we do not think that we can say anything...


The staff of the two institutions remain reportedly in the dark about what exactly is happening. Particular mention is made of the Adults' Department (passim), stating that it has are only four conductors left to cover 120 people, with the result that some groups have closed, some clients are regressing, and a waiting list is all can be offered to new ones.

The report reprises April's press release announcing that the Senates of the PAF and the Semmelweis support the merger in principle, with the PAF's being incorporated into the University as an 'independent faculty...' It continues – 

Some sources suggest that the Ministry of Human Resources has made the two senates approve this, but they present it to the public as it were the wish of the Peto Institute.


In absence of documentary evidence or people to step forward to testify, this has to remain no more than pletyka (rumour).

The report ends by remarking that this has not been the first attempt to incorporate The Pető Institute/College. Some years ago the University of Physical Education wanted to do the same.

(The Ministry of Human Resources is responsible for Hungary's national health-care and welfare systems.)

Very few weeks remaining

The merger comes into effect on 1 August, and soon the summer holidays begin for most conductors and most clients.

More questions than answers...

The most interesting questions are often not so much what a newspaper is writing, but why, and why now.

And what is it not reporting.

Friday, 9 June 2017



Rowena died on Monday. For more than a year now the advance of multiple sclerosis and cancer had made her life increasingly hard, to the point where she was no longer mobile. She remained, however, 'the old Ro'. No one could be tougher.

She was born in New Zealand into a Scottish farming family. She trained as a teacher and became a special educator, specialising on children who were deaf, deaf-blind and blind. In the late nineteen-eighties she was one of the pioneers who expanded awareness of Conductive Education in New Zealand society. In 1991 she travelled to the UK and to Hungary to gather data for her MEd dissertation, which was on Conductive Education.

The next year she took a bigger bite at the conductive cherry. From January 1992 to August 1993 she lived and worked in Budapest as resident tutor to the final tranche of the Foundation for Conductive Education's trainees, who were following the four-year, full-time course at the Pető Institute to become conductors.

In those highly politicised times it was particularly critical that their training went well. Rowena was concerned for the trainees' social, psychological and physical welfare, and the course of their studies, She liaised both with the Foundation back in Birmingham, and with the Pető Institute (especially with Mária Hári), and trouble-shot generally. The trainees passed.

Back in 1972 Rowena had married Lajos (Lali) Somogyváry, a 56-er who had settled in New Zealand and become a prominent member of the Hungarian community. She had already developed a great affinity for Hungarians and Hungarianness. Lali of course went to Budapest with her and, as she often remarked, 'the Foundation 'got two for the price of one', with Lali's contributing to her work in his unique way. In turn, he had a chance to live once more in Budapest, and show Rowena something of where he came from. To reflect this, here is a link to something about Rowena and Lali, in Hungarian, in the newsletter Magyar Szó, no 86, from December 2006:

(Scroll down about half way for the three relevant paragraphs. NB her age is wrongly stated)

Lali had died in 2005. Rowena had always been a great traveller. Despite her multiple sclerosis she continued to see the world:

She also continued with special education, tutoring children with learning disabilities in a room in her house that she had converted for this purpose. Rowena loved children – tough love – and she loved teaching them, continuing to do so into her seventies.

Rowena was bold and she was kind. She left her mark.

Memorial book

This will now remain permanently archived on line. Further reminiscences and photos are welcomed:

Memorial book

This will now remain permanently on line. Further reminiscences and photos are welcomed.

Thursday, 8 June 2017


And many ways...

On the day of this dreariest of General Elections it is heartening to be reminded of just how much more varied and dynamic society and culture are than might be thought from the dreary and negative issues chewed over in the unspeakable political discourse of the times.

Without wishing to trivialise, there are other things to think of, and other things in life.

Just one tiny example

Help times change, and change with them.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017


Let's have more of this

A recent job advert in Hungarian, for a conductor to work in Frankfurt, has attracted quite a tail of banter in the form of responses from conductors who have read it. It is written in rather colloquial Hungarian but as far as I can gather there is not much confidence expressed that such posts will be easily filled.

Not just in responses to those who advertise for conductors but also in the case of adverts posted by those looking for work themselves, and in response to advertisements for more than just conductors and other materials announced in Conductive World Market.

This may prove  more useful than simply in attracting interest than simply a bald, sober job advert left standing on its own, and even paradoxically more helpful to advertisers. The Conductive Word Market is presented through Facebook in part to encourage more interaction between advertisers and their audience. Sometimes, as here, this does happen. More often not

Do feel free to comment on postings on Conductive World Market, to inform, ask questions, give feedback,  and encourage. Also, in the case of job adverts, do also tell when a position has been filled.

And not just in Hungarian, either:

Monday, 5 June 2017


...and Conductive Education

Image result for Bilderberg
'Conspiracy theories...'

There is no desired outcome, no minutes are taken and no report is written... Furthermore, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken, and no policy statements are issued.

It sounds a bit like the a lot of meetings (conferences, congresses, whatever), in Conductive Education and in other contexts too. The above comment, however, relates specifically specifically to the annual gathering of the Bilderberg Group, the ultimate subject for conspiracy theorists concerned with world domination.

This Group was mentioned here on Conductive World in May 2013, in response to a prompt from Norman Perrin:

I remarked at the time –

[The annual meeting of the Bilderberg Group] sounds not so much a conspiracy as rather a nice jolly (albeit amidst fusty décor) – a 'do' at which to meet old mates and make some new ones, confirm old emnities and make some new, pinch each others' ideas, have a good old gossip, fix up some private deals, perhaps some tired and emotional behaviour, even a discussion or two about Uganda – and even in Watford a chance to put away some decent tucker..

This is how 'conferences', 'congresses' etc. should be, without a time-wasting facade of presentations and other formal activities – in fact, putting aside all the pretence and flummery, and this is what successful conferences really are underneath.

Interesting that people with the resources and power to do just what they want to, irrespective of what outsiders and bean-counters might think, cut straight to the bone and organise just such an event for themselves.

In response Norman mentioned the rather nice notion of 'unconferences' (after Harrison Owen's notion of the Open Space format:

I do not think that this model has had much of a run in Conductive Education. A great pity.

Bilderberg Group

Friday, 2 June 2017


Next week in London (England)

Image result for excel london

I have just been offered a complimentary ticket for a bash in London next week, a rehabilitation trade show called the European Neuroconvention:

I have looked through the programme in vain. Not that I was really expecting mention of Conductive Education, amongst seminar-presenters, 'key-notes' or exhibitors – though it is always nice to be surprised.

As ever in such programmes, CE is right off the radar.

Rather, I was looking for a gleam of a pedagogic, or even just a psychosocial approach, however expressed. There were glimpses to be had, but only just visible from searching among all the other stuff. Though the extensive list of speakers offers a chance to draw up a potentially interesting personal programme on a range of matters, psychosocial topics show no coherent identity. They are at best marginal. 

As would be expected, I found that my 'complimentary ticket' was no mark of esteem, as free tickets can be ordered on line, here:

Anyway, there it is in London next Tuesday and Wednesday, on 7 and 8 June, at ExCel London, a large new facility beyond Canary Wharf.

And remember, it's free.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017


Film on line

Suddenly on Youtube

In the early hours of the morning a touch of insomnia had me switch on the computer – to find Google's notification that a new mention of the film Walking with the Enemy had just been uploaded on to YouTube.

Jut another trailer? Or Just another pirate version that would have already been removed by the time that I clicked to it?

Yes, a full print had just been put on YouTube by an anonymous Hungarian – and was still there, all one hour an fifty-two minutes of it. Only one thing to do, sit back and watch it right through, and hope that the screen would not go blank before the end.

So I did, and then went back off to bed when it had finished, expecting it to be gone by morning. It wasn't.

See it yourself

Indeed, at the time of writing it is still there. If you want to watch it, though, you may have to be quick before it vanishes, but who knows?

What interest might this have for people in Conductive Education? It does show something of how awful things were for Jews (and others) in Hungary and in Budapest in 1944 – and that this was not wholly down to Germans Nazis. Hungary's Arrow Cross, the country's civil authorities and many others also played their parts in this industrial-scale murder.

András Pető was a Jew and Mária Hári was half-Jewish (Jewish enough), and both were on Budapest over that period. So were many others who contributed to the subsequent development of conductive pedagogy.

What is this film like? Well-meaning no doubt, but embarrassingly awful, and certainly unworthy of its themes. 

After a long unexplained delay the film has recently been released in the United States, where a video can also be bought. It has not yet been released elsewhere. This present pirate version on YouTube could be many people's only opportunity to see it – but, unless, for whatever reason, the film company has decided to turn a blind eye, Walking with the Enemy might not be on YouTube for long.

See the film, if it is still here

Previous posting on this film

Wednesday, 24 May 2017


You'd better believe it (iron.)

There are contradictions in all things. András Pető was very much in charge of his work and his institution, Mária Hári rather less so. There were great advantages in this for the creation and conservation of Conductive Education. And problems too.

After this, the pluses and minuses of the period of privatisation under the International Pető Foundation are not yet so clear in this respect. Renationalisation as a 'college', in 2014, was meant to cut across a variety of problems, academic as well as financial, managerial and commercial. Now in 2017 August's planned incorporation into a prestigious medical university suggests that this solution has significantly failed to achieve its goals.

Back in 2014 the renationalisation of the then Pető Institute seemed to meet with widespread approval amongst those who were aware of  major problems. In 2014, at its most basic, renationalisation prevented the institution from going bust and closing. Well, it is still there, but there have been further spills and thrills along the way, bringing some damaging attention from politicians and media.

In 2017 surrender of the PAF's 'college' status occurs against a wider national higher-education agenda concerning Hungary's colleges. The planned merger might therefore seem an obvious political solution.

And for the future? Who knows – renationalisation let in the agendas of the Government, now these are joined by the agendas of academic medicine, largely paediatric, and its corresponding medical services. Major decisions may be made well away from the interests and the understandings of those directly involved.

There may be pluses to this, and minuses. Things could go any way, all that we can know for certain at the moment is that nothing is for certain and that whatever happens will not be what anyone involved today specifically intends and hopes for. So it goes.

And Ronald Reagan, where does he come in?

...I've always felt the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the Government, and I'm here to help'. (Ronald Reagan, 12 August 1986)

Previous item on this topic


(2017) Sorban tűnnek az állami főiskolák: így váltunk 29 egyetem országává, eduline, 24 May

Tuesday, 23 May 2017


SOTE incorporates the Pető Institute

Image result for sote egyetem

This morning's Magyar Hirlap reports a written Parliamentary reply by Secretary of State Bence Rétvári to an opposition question, in which he give more details of the arrangement for the merger between the Semmelweis Medical University and what the paper calls the 'Pető Institute'.

The Humanities Ministry confirms that this merger may come into force this August. The integration of the two institutions will not affect applications, and that the merger should increase the number of students and the international prestige of both institutions.

Since 2014 PAF (the András Pető College) has been controlled by the Ministry of Human Resources. The merger will improve the quality of service and management by improving the quality and effectiveness of rehabilitation capacities.

By law such a change can occur each year only on 1 February and 1 August. The framework for this change now been agreed by the two senates and there is agreement with the employees' and students' bodies in both institutions.

Bence Rétvári states –

The proposal on which the decision is based contains a detailed concept of institutional transformation... transformation takes place by merging the college into the university

An independent András Pető Faculty and Conductive Pedagogical Centre will then be created. PAC's present organisational units such as the international the adults' departments and the children's services can continue within the framework of the university. Fundraising and recruitment will continue. So too will Chancellor Máté Mihályi's decentralisation project aimed at widening access outside Budapest. This is not outsourcing, all places continuing to be provided within the framework of the college. The State Secretary also pointed out that the Government raised the public support of the Pető Institute between 2015 and 2017, from 1231 million to 1492 million forints, and that this commitment will be maintained.

The period before 2014 still casts its shadow, from what the newspaper calls a crime of alleged treachery under the previous management. This remains under police investigation.

Some first thoughts

The new 'College' title has not caught on. In public discourse the institution remains the 'Pető Institute'. From August, what will the new university unit be officially called?
  • There is other terminology to get used to. The newspaper headline refers to 'SOTE' rather than Semmelweis, the abbreviation for Semmelweis Orvostudomanyi Egyetem (Semelweis Medical University). Better get used to both.
  • My, this is going through quickly – and everything will have to be in place for initial implementation to ensure business as usual in just over two months' time.
  • At the moment there is no suggestion but that as far as services (including training) will be as before. In the longer term, organisationally, personally, with respect to premises etc., one will have to see.
  • I have used the word 'Faculty' here to translate the Hungarian word Kar. I could have written 'Chair'. And this should remind everyone that this change will be far more than just an administrative move. András Pető's heritage in Hungary will now be taken back into the academic medical establishment, with all that this implies. Think on it. One obvious implication: chairs mean professors... Who? For good or for ill, this will inevitably all add up to more than 'institutional transformation'.
  • Decentralisation will continue, with care taken to state that this will remain a centrally provided public service.
  • There is no mention of the services provided abroad with financial support from the Hungarian Government (in Kazakhstan and countries surrounding Hungary).
  • 1231 million forints = £3.45 million; 1492 million forints = £4.19: not a lot really towards the annual costs of a two-site institution of that size. It is going to take an awful lot of fundraising and commercial activity to make up the shortfall.
  • Budapest's fraud squad still has the PAI's pre-renationalisation financial management as an active case. How far back and how wide the investigations is extending remain unstated, even what it is that they are looking at. But the Minister makes sure that we are reminded that it is looking...
I am sure that others will have their own thoughts on this announcement...


Kacsoh, D (2017) Befogadja a SOTE a Pető Intézetet. Az érintett intézmények szenátusai rábólintottak, így eldőlt: a Pető András Főiskola a Semmelweis Egyetembe olvad – értesültünk. Az integráció nem érinti a felvételizőket. Magyar Hírlap, 23 May

Monday, 22 May 2017


Are there more?

Holly Edgecome (New Zealand)

Ifat Ohad (Israel)
English translation from Hebrew original:
To me this reads a poetry, Ifat says that it is not. You judge.

András Pető (Hungary)
In German, with English translations:
pp. 153-160 and 259-266

Zoltán Vitó (Hungary)
In Hungarian, with English translation:

Are there no others?

Sunday, 21 May 2017


On a serious matter

Those around the world concerned with better understanding of the PAF's history, and perhaps also its present and future place and role in the world, might be interested in the following –

The institution is internationally renowned and famous. And, accordingly, we are not short of recognition, appreciation or support...
(Andrea Zsebe, speaking about the PAF)

Conductor Andrea Zsebe is Rector of the PAF (the András Pető College) in Budapest. The above quotation comes from a recent interview published in May's edition of Nők Lapja ['Women's Page'], a somewhat upmarket, Hungarian woman's magazine.  Nők Lapja  frequently gives space to human-interest reports and features about the PAF. 

Note that like almost everyone else the magazine continues to use its old name, 'Pető Institute'.

The opening paragraphs of this extensive interview have been published in the magazine's online edition:

To see the whole article you will have to buy a paper edition from a news stand, or examine the montage on the PAF's Facebook page:

Árvai, M. (2017) Szolgálatnak tekintem a munkám, nekem a Pető a második otthonom” – Közeli Dr. Zsebe Andreával ['I regard my work as a service, the Pető is my second home' – up close with Dr Andrea Zsebe] Nők Lapja, 2017/2018, no 19, 4 May, pp. 18-20

Thursday, 18 May 2017


Particular social issues in Hungary
And an important general truth

Related image

Next week the PAF is hosting a free-of-charge public event introducing some issues facing young people with disabilities in Hungary, including equal opportunities, jobs and access to information. The event is in Hungarian and concerned specifically with life in Hungary but this reflects a vital worldwide question much broader than just Conductive Education – what happens when children grow up?

Events to bring such questions to the fore are much to be welcomed, in whatever country. The programme for this particular event can be found here:

Note that this is not specifically a Conductive Education event as such.

Continuing Conductive Education

There has been an active verbal lobby within CE to advocate 'early intervention', along with strongly held theoretical claims to support their position. A corresponding lobby to describe and articulate continuing conductive services into and throughout adulthood for those with motor disorders from early childhood has yet to evolve but is very much needed.

Early-onsetting motor disorders are for life. Where has the notion come from that Conductive Should be anything else? It is to everyone's benefit to be rid of it.

I have to thank Robert Mascher for bringing this event to my attention.

Newer Posts Older Posts Home