Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A dog is for life

A long, long way from those wretched 'principles'!

Dogs motivate us all to get moving – as so many of us well know at different points in our lives, in all sorts of different ways and contexts. And as we all know too, humans and dogs interact socially and humanly, we work and play together, as we humans do with no other species.

So no dogs in Conductive Education?

Actually, I have heard verbal accounts of isolated individual examples of dogs' involvement in conductive practice but, like so many activities that are not regarded as 'traditional', these have not been celebrated. Last month the Hungarian teachers' magazine Köznevelés ['Public Upbringing'] did just that, celebrate the dog's potential role, through an enthusiatic report of just such activities incorporated into conductive upbringing at the Pető Institute.
  • Lie, sit, stand.
  • Touch, stroke – his ears, your ears.
  • Help find the stuffed toy in the other room.
  • Liven up.
  • Go out for a walk, and keep on going...
Obvious stuff really. Let's hear more such confident, celebratory reports of other 'non-traditional' practice.

And not just with children.


(2011) Kira, a nevelő foxi, Köznevelés, vo.67, n0. 10, 4 March, pp. 8-9

For non-Latinists

The magazine Köznevelés has been going since 1868 (under its (present title from 1945). Its masthead is a Latin tag: Gutta cavat lapidem.

The full sentence comes from Ovid: Gutta cavat lapidem non vi, sed saepe cadendo.

I have recently been gently reminded that Latin really is getting to be a dead language now. In English this sentence means 'A drop of water hollows a stone, not by force but by continuously dripping'.

I cannot think of a better motto for the advantages of steady, attritional conductive upbringing over short, 'intensive' exposures to conductive pedagogy, however good in itself this latter may be.

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Blogger Susie Mallett said...

Andrew, of course a long way away from those wretched principles, this is about conductive upbringing, this is something that is for life and not for a few hours of a day in a session with some special furniture.

I could not agree more with your last sentence regarding the Latin: Gutta cavat lapidem non vi, sed saepe cadendo, and it being a useful motto for conductive upbringing.

For me what is so nice is to see during my work with my clients are those occasions when it seems that the dripping of the steady pedagogy breaks through and finds a softer piece of stone. A bit like the flint and chalk construction found in my part of the world, Norfolk.

When the flint gets worn away and a piece of chalk is exposed the development speeds up until the water, or the pedagogy, comes up against flint again. Then the steady progress continues, drip, or step, at a time until the next piece of chalk appears.

Holiday times are a good example of the chalk in the flint stone. In my experience, as I wrote about recently on my own blog, the school holiday give children a chance to try out what they have learnt and realise all they can do, if given the opportunity when they are not exhausted by their everyday term-time life.

Unfortunately I could not link to the article in question but will try to chase it up later, but never-the-less here is a snippet from my own animal experiences.

The conductive programme of the children in the Montessori/Petö Kindergarten in Nürnberg includes horse riding. This includes the preparation of the horse, the fetching of the tack, and fixing it as well as the cleaning of hooves, the grooming, the feeding and bringing it to the stable, as well as sitting on the back of the animal for a ride. All this is done with the riding teacher and the conductor.

Perhaps not quite the same as having a dog in the conductive group but it is a nice inter-active and motivating experience for the children and is always something that can be continued in the Kindergarten activities in between the riding lessons.

I am now off for a walk with a friend and a dog!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011 at 21:23:00 BST  
Blogger Andrew Sutton said...


Funny business about 'hippotherapy'. I am sure that horses are very nice for those that like them and/or use them but I suspect that the human-animal interaction (and the degree of anthropomorphic projection generated) can never be like what happens with dogs.

Dogs do however, get a real look in when it come to the blind. I have also seen snippets on their ability to fetch things for infirm people and to calm the savage breast with dodgily behaved children.

But a 'conductive dog'? Why has this not been more wideky considered? I suspect that this is because of the general mind-set that sees 'physical disability' as... well physical. The notion of interaction and its potential role in helping break the cycle of dysontogenesis is beyond most folks' world view.

Pity. If I wanted to start a charity for the sake of runnubg a charity I would go for Conductive Dogs. You would catch two donor-markets that way. Guide Dogs for the Blind raises more money than at times it has known what to do with.

But of course, people 'understand' something of what it might mean to be blind. What ides do most folk have about motor disorders?


Tuesday, 26 April 2011 at 21:57:00 BST  
Blogger Andrew Sutton said...

Susie Mallett writes –

I was not talking actually about hippo-therapy here, that is why I mentioned the riding lessons.

I was talking about the bits that all children who take riding lessons learn to do and in fact have to do before they get on a horse and after they have ridden. It is all part of the package of going to the riding school. All of our children go to riding lessons, the disabled and not-disabled who are in our integrated Kindergarten. They all learn how to do these bits and pieces that go with learning to ride and care for the horse. There is a holiday course taking place at the moment for the children who wish to take part, that is all about caring for horses. I expect that they get to have a ride too but it is more about being around horses and seeing how they live and what they need.

I suppose you could call it hippo-therapy, and it does take place at the hippo-therapy centre that belongs to the same association as our Kindergarten, but as far as our children are concerned they consider it as going riding and that is how we conductors see it too.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011 at 22:38:00 BST  
Blogger Andrew Sutton said...

I knew as soon as I started typing 'hippo...' that I was trespassing into a field that I could not navigate. Wheels within wheels! And so many other such fields all around: the donkeys, the dolphins, the goldfish, the cats, 'animal therapy' and 'pet therapy', guiding and fetching – all waiting to be 'conductivised'!

As far as I can see they have in common (the guide dogs nobly accepted) that they all seem to be 'therapies'. Perhaps there are some good conductive things to be done out there, maybe even some careers to be forged, and a PhD or two. As Foxi shows, and I am sure that there will have been others, animals can be incorporated effortllessly and positively into the processes of conductive pedagogy and upbringing, and incorporated beneficially into a conductive lifestyle.

And as a total aside (I hope) I should like to mention here 'Oscar the therapy cat':


Not really relevant (I hope) but interesting nonetheless!


Wednesday, 27 April 2011 at 10:15:00 BST  
Blogger Susie Mallett said...

I think I did not make my thoughts clear, even in my second comment that I was not actually thinking about the contact that humans have with animals as therapy.

Interaction with animals is part of life. Learning how to stroke animals, or groom a horse, feed a cat, or clean out a goldfish bowl are all part of life, especially the life of a young child who has pets.

Just as we teach our clients how to brush their own hair, clean their teeth, throw a ball and make a sandcastle we teach them how to look after a horse. We do not have dogs or cats at hand but we do have horses, and goldfish! All experiences of everyday life and not therapy.

I was feeding the cattle with my Granddad at fours years of age it was part of my upbringing just as grooming and feeding a horse is part of the upbringing of our five year olds. It was not therapy for me, it was fun, exciting and sometimes a bit scary. I expect for our children at the Kindergarten it is very much the same.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011 at 11:18:00 BST  
Blogger Andrew Sutton said...

I should never have mentioned that cat!

I have just come across the following brief item in The Psychologist:


I am comfortable in feeling the mystery of Oscar the therapy cat to have been solved. And it took Hans the calculating horse to do so!

Monday, 2 May 2011 at 21:36:00 BST  

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