Tuesday, 7 August 2012


A different question might bring different answers

Conductor Susie Mallett has reopened the eternal question (well a question that has been asked since the late eighties, an eternity if satisfactory answers are yet to gain general currency) – what to do for the best when summer camp is over?

Norman Perrin and I have ding-donged over this on Susie's blog. Here's something of this, from me –

Not only now but for any foreseeable future, even in what some might mistakenly regard as a country with 'a lot of Conductive Education', the UK for example, only a fraction of one percent of children with relevant conditions will ever 'attend a full-time conductive education school', This applies and will apply however generously (slackly) this phrase is interpreted.

In the UK anyway, and I suspect almost everywhere else too, parents cannot 'choose … for their child to attend a full-time conductive education school.'

Put it another way, for economic and social-policy reasons nearly all children who might potentially benefit from receiving Conductive Education delivered in the way that Norman applies will be denied this for the duration of their childhood. So will generations to come. I suspect that the same will be so for most other places too.

Now for Norman's specific questions...

Is something better than nothing? This simplistic notion is understandably seductive. But think, for example, of a discontinued course of penicillin. Or a motor-car engine that is 90% complete, lacking only the carburettor. Almost certainly, if something works as a system, it will not work with even one vital bit missing. With respect to Conductive Education, there is no a priori reason to think that any of the usual quick-fix substitutes will work, nor empirical reason either. There are many reasons for people to offer such interventions, and for clients to take them up, but these are another matter.

CE developed in a particular social context to fulfil particular roles. Why expect it to 'work' in other contexts, to fulfil different roles. Of course the conductive system is flexible, as are some of the people who carry it within them, but how far can this stretch without distorting and weakening its effects?

Something more radical is needed. There was precedent. In Hungary in the late forties, AP himself found that he had created the radical concept of 'groups' when he had so many people apply that he could no longer deal with them individually. And the Akoses' parent-based service model, when there was not a single conductor as far as I know in the whole of Germany in the late sixties, was no less radical.

Norman writes –
...we need to begin to develop a menu of options which might better suit the circumstances and choices of the parents, the child and the family.
'One implication might be that when summer school is over, the work of the conductor and the CE centre is not but that there is a continuing need for contact with the family, a reference point for the family for further continuing advice on conductive upbringing. 

Begin? In 2012?

On might start by questioning why anyone who works with disabled children and their families should consider it appropriate to staff services according to school terms. And by questioning whose are the primary needs that CE services are established to serve.

I reiterate:
...conductive upbringing and conductive lifestyle comprise the primary situation to aspire to, supplemented by direct pedagogic experience with conductors if and when possible – not the other way round.

Go to the Conductor blog to read what Susie and Norman have to say, and to contribute your own views on this:

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