Friday, 18 July 2008

Chinese puzzle

One name, several systems

I knew that visiting Hong Kong would be a challenging experience. It certainly is, as challenging as when I first stumbled into Conductive Education back in the early noneteen-eighties, challenging enough for me to be still struggling to formulate my ideas, challenging enough to make me review guidelines for action and analysis that have served me well over twenty-five years or so in Conductive Education.

I'm still in Hong Kong as I write and just beginning the long struggle to put what I am already thinking and saying into written speech to hold it up for public interrogation. Why should anybody care? Because Hong Kong is part of China ('One country, two systems' but one country all the same). What is happenning out here is BIG, bigger than anyone in Conductive Education has ever experienced, and it will begin to effect EVERYBODY in Conductive Education over the next couple of years or so. For good or ill? Tell me when it's happened!

In two years' time Hong Kong hosts the next 'World Congress' of Conductive Education'. There had better be better models for analysis and debate in place by then than we have now, better certainly than 'I do Conductive Education and you don't', 'pure Conductive Education' versus 'principles of Conductive Education', etc., etc., the tired, undefined cliches that have so often constituted the sole basis for discussing Conductive Education.

Instead, and as a starting point, might people examine the viability of a Big Tent approach, with reasonable, explicit and acceptable criteria for inclusion, running for the moment under the rubric of 'Conductive Education'? When the different worlds of Conductive Education meet en masse in 2010 it will help ease the flow of that event if there are aready emerging some clearer terms of engagement emerging. It's time to start thinking about this now. Will 2010 be a year of coming together, or the year of the Big Bang when the whole caboodle blows to smithereens?

So how about this model for starters? Some sort of defined Big Tent, containing several distinct systems, each itself consciously defined but part of some bigger whole? That of course would involve clear statements of our differences as much as attempts to find what me might have in common (and I don't mean 'the furniture'). It would need people to consider what seems to be actually eseential to their processes, rather than relying unquestioningly upon the hoary old phrases that have been worked so hard and uncritically over forty or so years.

Or shall we just continue on our own sweet ways while the Chinese continue on theirs, with the same likelhood of nothing changing, as the balance of influence in the world shifts inexorably eastwards? Shall we just just hide under the duvet and wait for morning?

Comments please on the nature of the problem as posed here and on the feasibility of the model of a Big Tent containing several systems. \over here, where i write this, they are are already entertaining something like this as one possible way forward.

I shall return to this question, feed information into the debate, tweak and argue. Don't let it be the sound of one hand clapping.


Hong Kong, previous mention

Sutton, A (2008) A week in Hong Kong: an Intellectual challenge, Conductive Education News, 7 July



Anonymous Anonymous said...

This idea holds interesting possibilities for CE and its world, an opportunity to move forward under an umbrella of agreed ideas and principles of CE without the divisive positions that so many hold. For too many years there has been friction and disunion. Widespread and fragmented as the conductive world is, who is going to participate in the suggested debate, who will feel confident enough to, and who will lead it? Who will decide what is ‘real’ and what is ‘application of principles’? An enormous, difficult but very worthwhile task lies ahead.

Conductors must be open-minded, brave and confident enough to come forward along with those who run centres and services offering the principles of Conductive Education. (Incidentally, what are these? Different according to where and who is describing them, I imagine.)

There could be several ways of starting this process which could include:
the establishment of national professional associations which could then take their members opinions to any international meetings;
conferences which in themselves would enable those at the grass roots to add their own individual viewpoints;
more useful academic research to help create and encourage a questioning and evaluating mindset for all practitioners.

Whatever transpires, it won’t happen overnight and will take a long time, but hopefully we may begin to see a united body of people all singing from the same hymn sheet.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008 at 14:34:00 BST  

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