Wednesday, 19 September 2012


Nothing unfamiliar there

Paces Sheffield had just published a brief slide show, drawing attention to similarities between what Olympic athletes achieve and the work/lives of children with a cerebral palsy in the context of Conductive Education.

Commenting on this on Facebook, I remarked that it has been surprising that no other CE centre has drawn attention to this so obvious relationship:

There has been enormous public attention to the Olympics and Paralympics, in the UK anyway. CE centres are generally desperate for public support, moral and financial, and on the whole seem short of a public line to win popular interest and understanding for what they do. I should have thought that this 'summer of sport' would have presented both on a plate.
Now, the public fuss largely over, Paces is the first to come forward with a relevant storythatcannot be stated too often.

People need to understand, and usually already do

Years ago, I was frequently faced with having to 'explain' the basis of conductive practice to intelligent lay people, journalists, politicians, and just plain people (often parents). Try offering in such a context the usual pseudo-scientific 'theory' that seems required and sufficient in the case of many professionals, and watch your audience's eyes glaze over and wander down towards their wrist watches. They will have just seen something that impresses them, they need to 'understand' – and the best way for them to do so is often in terms of what they already know.

Everybody has experienced psycho-motor learning and teaching, some strenuous, some less so:
  • taking up some form of sport
  • ditto dancing
  • assembling IKEA furniture, or anything else
  • riding a bike
  • driving a car
  • learning to type
  • playing an instrument
  • etc, etc, etc. – people soon come up with their own
You will find that they know an awful lot about motor-learning, and about motor teaching, maybe also a lot about relevant pedagogy and upbringing. And they very soon twig what is right about CE as a response to motor isorder – and correspondingly what is wrong with existing approaches. Surely, they say, all this should be obvious, so why is CE so resisted...?

   Mári Hári knew all this.  In the last few weeks of her life she admitted it to me.

      'I was too rigid,' she declared, unbidden. 

      'You, Mária, rigid?  Never!'

     'See, it is all there', she said, indicating a heavily over-scored chapter in David Legge's collection of readings on skills – on learning to fly, to type, to ride a bike...


As for the a relationship between training and living for top-level competitive sports, and the daily tasks of proper conductive teaching and upbringing, I can do more than recommend Matthew Syed's little book, still readily available, as one brilliant source of insight and inspiration for understanding and explaining conductive upbringing...


Miller, G. A., Galanter, E., Pribram, K. H. Motor skills and habits, in D. Legge, (ed.) Skills, Penguin Modern Psychology Readings, London, Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 1970, pp. 237-248
For a full transcribed text of this chapter, published elsewhere, scroll down to pp. 81-95 at

Sutton, A. (2011) Performance: a useful way to think of CE, Conductive World, 5 June
Syed, M. (2010) Bounce: how champions are made, the myth of talent and the power of practice, London, Fourth Estate



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Blogger Unknown said...

Andrew, the sequence was put together by Gabor Fellner. Thanks for pointing to it.

Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 21:46:00 BST  
Blogger Andrew Sutton said...

All credit.

Shame about the music. Let us know when something appropriate is found...

Friday, 21 September 2012 at 09:51:00 BST  

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