Friday, 21 September 2012


Important collection in English

In 1999 Hungary enjoyed the status of main guest nation at the Frankfurt Book Fair, with what at the time was about the most sumptuous publishing website that I had yet seen.

This lavish and extensive website included announcement of one of Hungary's featured books at the Fair, Judit Forrai's collection of memories of András Pető.  The Book Fair's site gives the following summary  
    This book is a picture of a man who, in this ordinary world created something extraordinary. At the close of the twentieth century Conductive Education is emerging as a potent and dynamic new force for the benefit of children and adults with difficulties in controlling movement (motor disorders).

    So what is CE, where did it come from, what is its mainspring, its essence? Empirical investigation, theoretical enquiry and practical demonstration will play an essential role in elaborating such questions: Judit Forrai’s book takes us straight to the heart of the matter, to the life and work of András Peto himself and the creation of conductive pedagogy.

    This history suggests that the physician András Peto, used the 'movement therapy', combined with pedagogy, a healing that cut across hoary old dualisms of mind and body, emotion and intellect, teacher and learner, and health and education. At the core of investigation into András Peto’s life lies the irreplaceable personal record of men and women who knew him. Judit Forrai, a medical historian, then wove extracts from these reminiscences into the historical narrative and analysis that comprises the first half of this book. It is an insight into the unknown world of the physically disabled and a picture of the man, who disregarding conventionality, taught them to walk.

    The question must arise, how 'true' is the portrait of András Peto presented here? Readers will easily pick out some of the resulting inconsistencies for themselves. Was he indeed a 'polyhistor', was he really such a loss to German literature or was he a dabbler with a colossal ego, hero-worshipped by his young admirers? What did he feel about what he was doing and the life he led? Judit Forrai's investigation offers tantalising hints.

    So who was András Peto? He was an anomalous man whose heritage still proves productive in the very different world in which we live today. This book is about the world-famous András Pető, the founder of Conductive Education, who turned mere existence into life.
Present availability

Second-hand copies of Judit's book are today as rare as hen's teeth. A very few are available second hand at around thirty US dollars or so.

Lost, stolen,  or strayed

One reason for this shortage relates one of CE's little mysteries.

This book was published jointly by Judit's own publishing house, Új Aranyhíd in Budapest and the Foundation for Conductive Education in Birmingham. It was printed in Budapest and in due time a consignment of two hefty cardboard boxes arrived at the Foundation, containing the Foundation's share of copies to be sold. They were deposited in the then General Office, one of them was opened and the book went on sale.

Sales were slow but gradually that first box emptied and we needed to start the second. It could not be found. The building was searched, people were questioned, and it never came to light. We kept on receiving many requests for this book, that we could not provide for. Today copies of this important and fascinating historic collection are almost impossible to find.

Somebody, somewhere, presumably knows something.

New book

A new book on the life of András Pető will be available from next week

Reference and note

Forrai, J. (1999) Memoirs of the Beginnings of Conductive Pedagogy and András Pető, Budapest, Új Aranyhíd Kft / Birmingham, Foundation for Conductive Education

The website referred to above is no longer on line, but is available through the Wayback Machine's Web Archive. This is a big, fancy website and you may have to wait a little while for it to to be found in the Archive and to download. Give it time, be patient and if necessary reload. Internal links work and you can Judit's book easily (if you know where to look!):

You can hunt around in this enormous site in English, Deutsch and Magyar. Click on your preferredlanguage.

In English, first click on tab Contents, then...

Again, be patient!

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