Wednesday, 9 July 2008

A week in Hong Kong

An intellectual challenge

I am off to Hong Kong on Friday and shall spend next week looking at services there and discussing the nature of Conductive Education.

The services are provided by SAHK. I have already expressed my admiration of the extent and co-ordination of SAHK's comprehensive habilitation and rehabilitation services (Sutton, 2008) that on the face of it put to shame those of the former colonial power. I will be very interesting to put this impression to more direct test and I shall be reporting some of what I see and think on the pages of Conductive Education News over the coming week.


The Association was founded forty-five years ago and provides services 'in a holistic manner' to people with an increasingly wide range of disabilities, across the life-span. Services include special education from pre-school to junior-secondary levels, residential and training services for adults, employment, and community and family support. SAHK present runs fifty-one service units, serving more than 4,500 clients and their families annually.

The Association's developing role has meant a name change, to SAHK in English. Its Chinese name explicitly indicates the mission of maximizing clients’ potentials and hence their confidence to lead a quality life. I do like that.

There will be a ceremony to mark this name-change next Friday and I shall be there. Lucky me.

The intellectual challenge

It all sounds a wonderful jolly, doesn't it? So where's the intellectual challenge?

Those who have known me and my work over the last twenty-five years or so will be well aware of my attitude to getting Conductive Education right and my view of the grave dangers to the system's survival inherent in getting it wrong. They may also know of my firm-held belief that buried within Conductive Education is the basis for immeasurable benefit to disabled people and their families in the developing economies. And one more thing, they should know too of my recognition of the problems (in practice as in theory) of uncritical transposition of special educational procedures from one culture to another – indeed the first article that I published in a refereed journal (Sutton, 1977) was on just this topic, never mind the subsequent experience of transposing Conductive Education!

The elaborate system of provision developed in Hong Kong is articulated as 'Conductive Education'. Since the nineteen eighties I have read much of its extensive production of English-language material, met many of the people involved in this work and marvelled at the enormous industry of it all. In English all this is called Conductive Education, though it's not quite called that in Chinese. Maybe here lies the rub (part of it, at least).

What is it precisely that they do there, from what historical roots, is it 'conductive' as I know it, and does any of this matter – either to its clients or to the future of Conductive Education.

Some jolly! I certainly will not answer any of these questions by the end of next week but I shall have enough in the way of observations, impressions, and tentative analyses and hypotheses, to keep me in sleepless nights and headaches until Christmas.

Notes and references

Sutton, A. (1977) Acupuncture and deaf-mutism – an essay in cross-cultural defectology, Educational Studies, vol. 3, no 1 , pp. 1-10

Sutton, A. (2008) KNOW HOPE: Hope for the future, Conductive Education World, 2 January



Blogger NormanP said...

See if you can persuade somewhere there to set up a blog, Andrew. It could prove really interesting.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 22:44:00 BST  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home