Sunday, 11 November 2012


Pető Institute's position statement
A few days ago Conductive World asked whether it is now time to identify more explicitly some of the distinct and possibly conflictual divisions of opinion within Conductive Education:
On reflection, use of the word 'parties' in that posting, to describe supporters of such emerging positions, implied something too formalised. Perhaps the looser, less formal word 'camp' would better suit.
The neuro camp
One powerful position dividing opinion within Conductive Education – as it divides other sectors – is the attempt to find underlying biological explanations for social and psychological processes, particularly important member of the neuro camp.
Just over a week ago a group of three from the Pető Institute in Budapest paid an extensive visit to institutions in Chile. The group comprised:
  • Franz Schaffhauser, Rector
  • conductor Eszter Daróczy, of the department of international relations
  • conductor Pál Csuka, deputy head of unified method.
Franz summed up Conductive Education in these terms –
The ability to revitalize and increase brain connections is the base of the Pető method... By means of working with the motor, one can make changes in the human brain, and this reordering brings about changes in the person.
He also reported that the Pető Institute is undertaking a series of investigations that delve into the effects of daily exercises and activities upon the brain.
Though the neurocamp tendency is widely bandied in Conductive Education, it remains unclear what is specifically included within its conceptual boundaries. Though neuro statements of Conductive Education seem increasingly common, I have not seen them gathered publicly together and, until a few are, it remains premature to assume too unitary a position. 
Neurocamp statements appear in a range of sources. In the absence of elaborated, authoritative, definitive formulations by this position's exponents, then for the moment collating examples of some of what is said or written in this vein might offer a useful empirical window on to Conductive Education's own neurocamp.
What in the neuro position in CE?
A little empirical data collection might be helpful.. What are people saying and writing about a 'neuro-CE'? Franz's position quoted above offers a powerful lead.
I shall look-out for some more statements along the same lines, then bring them together to see what they say. Do please feel free to contribute any others that you have noticed.
If you do send something in, make sure that you include a note of where you found it on line or on paper:
Knowing CE's strong tradition of personal caution, I shall not publish the names of those who respond to this – unless explicitly asked to do so.

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Blogger NormanP said...

One hesitates, of course, but isn't there something of the ancient chicken-or-egg about "By means of working with the motor, one can make changes in the human brain, and this reordering brings about changes in the person"?

Sunday, 11 November 2012 at 23:54:00 GMT  
Anonymous Sue OReilly said...

You characterise all this neuro-babble stuff as "an attempt to find underlying biological explanations for social & psychological processes". However, maybe it's just ultimately all talking about the same thing, that is, there's SOMETHING going on in the mind/brain that can be explained in biological, purely brain terms (and will be by biologist-type people), or that can be explained in psychosocial, purely mind terms (and will be by psychosocial types) - or that maybe could be explained in a synthesis of the two?? What is the connection between the brain and the mind? When we learn (the mind),or experience something (the mind) or think (the mind) neural connections increase/expand (the brain). Shouldnt all of us in CE basically be rejoicing that at last, from the brain people's perspective and in their language, there is "scientific" confirmation that what CE has been saying for 60 years, from a mind perspective, is entirely right??

Monday, 12 November 2012 at 10:29:00 GMT  
Anonymous Andrew said...

All sorts of things go on in in the brain that merit biological explanation. But the human mind requires rather more, extra-cerebral processes (outside the individual brain). I am not at all clear what it is that CE has has been saying over the years ( that people learn if taught, develop if brought up?) that is suddenly being confirmed by biology, or how.

Perhaps we shall be clearer when the PAI published its investigations that were announced in Chile a year ago, Perhaps a preliminary statement on this, what is being done and it techical and theoretical basis, will be ready for next year's World Congress.

Monday, 12 November 2012 at 12:53:00 GMT  
Anonymous Sue OReilly said...

CE has been saying for 60 years, anong other things, that you can learn to overcome, to some extent or other, the motor-impairing effects of certain forms of brain/CNS damage. Critics have been saying for the past 60 or so years that this is nonsense, that brain damage is permanent and irreversible, that no one can "learn" to overcome irreversible brain damage, and that it is giving entirely false hope to say so (at least, that's what they've said to me!)But now, the neuro-babblers are ablaze with excitement at their discovery that the brain is far less rigid and fixed than have they believed for the past 400 years, and actually, yes, brain damage can be overcome via - guess what? - learning sorts of processes! And why you don't think that is helpful to conductivists is beyond fact, I would have thought it suddenly catapaults CE into pole position in all sorts of fields, given the neuro-babblers' control over 99% of all public funding. I entirely agree with you - in Bryan Appleyard's words: "The human brain, people say, is the most complex thing in the universe. But it’s complexity is nothing next to that of the human mind" - but this doesn't mean new biological ways of thinking can't be turned to CE's advantage - does it?

Monday, 12 November 2012 at 19:12:00 GMT  
Blogger Andrew DSutton said...

Norman: Occam's razor...

Sue (1) Ditto: I just do not see how one needs to conjure up biological information to confirm that learning has taken place, behaviours changed, goals values enhanced etc, even were that possible. And would knowing such stuff help shape pedagogic activity?

Sue (2) You make an eloquent plea on the possible political advantage of CE's allying itself with this current fad (though I do not recognise your 99%).

For some of the systemic effects of paralysis, and other chronic conditions, to be modifiable, to be much more widely recognised as modifiable, perhaps very significantly so, by primarily psycho-social means, would be an enormous stem forward for human well-being. And what important research and development could then be mounted on the basis of such recognition.

CE's advantage would surely be better served by seeing its science, and its research and development, at more appropriate levels of reality than the neurologic, and taking its stand on this much more defensible position.

That to my mind would be real science, as opposed to extrapolation from technology.


Monday, 12 November 2012 at 20:35:00 GMT  
Blogger Rony Schenker, OTR, PhD, Tsad Kadima, Israel said...

Relating to Prof. Schaffhauser citation that "the ability to revitalize and increase brain connections is the base of the Pető method", I would like to suggest that brain plasticity is the foundation of all our learning processes
(experiences)and is not unique to any specific method.
"Brain plasticity is the capacity of neurons and of neural circuits in the brain to change, structurally and functionally, in response to experience. This property is fundamental for the adaptability of our behaviour, for learning and memory processes, brain development and brain repair. Experience can shape neural circuit development because developing neural circuits are highly sensitive to experience... environmental enrichment has long been exploited to investigate the influence of the environment on brain structure and function, and more recently, plasticity..." (Berardy, N, 2012)

Below is a link to an enlightening extraordinary lecture delivered in the Sandler Conference at the prestigious Sigmund Freud Institute this year, by the world renown Prof. Ruth Feldman. I was so lucky to hear her myself in a conference held at the Bar-Ilan University where I teach a course on Conductive Education and cerebral Palsy in an M.A program in the Faculty of Education.
It might serve as an important contributor to this discussion, as it brings more sound knowledge which I find relevant.
Ruth Feldman is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and in the Brain Research Center at Bar-Ilan University Israel; adjunct professor at the Child Study Center at Yale University (USA). Her main areas of research interest are development of inter familial relations and parent-child relations in normal and pathological populations; regulation processes throughout childhood; neurological basis of communication; maternal depression and depression among children; childhood stress and trauma; and, development of premature babies. Prof. Feldman received her Ph.D. in psychology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1994.


Monday, 12 November 2012 at 20:37:00 GMT  
Anonymous Andrew said...

And here's quick one of my own.

Just in a few hours ago came a Comment on an earlier posting of mine around the same area. It comes spontaneously from Genevieve McArthurof the Department of Cognitive Science at Macquarie University, in Australia, whom I do not know.

She reminds me of a point that does not get made often enough, that CE is still in many people's minds more than a little cranky.

Its willful association with what she calls neurobollocks may do little to ameliorate this in the academic mind, medical or otherwise:

Monday, 12 November 2012 at 20:44:00 GMT  
Blogger Andrew DSutton said...

What might be the requirements, I wonder, for a Conductive Education neuroscience?

I would hope that the CE neurocamp will start defining its field is this or some similar way. Another marvelous theme for the upcoming World Congress to address.

Monday, 12 November 2012 at 21:26:00 GMT  
Anonymous Andrew said...

Thanks Rony, I shall reply as soon as I can watch that video.

Monday, 12 November 2012 at 21:33:00 GMT  
Blogger Andrew DSutton said...

In the meantime, it could be useful for everyone if CE's neuro-buffs could clarify whether they are discussing functional or structural plasticity, and their position on temporary connections.

I suspect that doing so might remove much of the contention from this issue. I do hope so, anyway.


Monday, 12 November 2012 at 22:00:00 GMT  
Anonymous Sue OReilly said...

I just looked at the comment to which you refer and it actually comes from someone called "Enzos" (possibly from the Antipodes?)who is quoting to you something written by Genevieve McArthur, along with her boss Ann Castles, on an Australian academic commentary-type site. Enzos actually only says he/she thinks (along with Castles et al) that the Arrowsmith stuff is "bollocks", not neuroplasticity stuff in general -although that may well be what he/she thinks. But then, who is Enzos??
Also Andrew, nobody is 'wilfully' associating CE with Arrowsmith. But I recommend you read the original Castles/McArthur article re Arrowsmith; reads like extremely sour grapes to me. And I LOVE one of the comments below their article: "I do patronising so well, I should consider becoming an academic." Woo-hoo!!

Monday, 12 November 2012 at 22:44:00 GMT  
Anonymous Sue OReilly said...

Quote from the article referenced: "If adequately educated in the nature of the neurosciences, no one should be better placed to infer potentially useful implications for educational practice than scholars of educational practice. Bridging the neurosciences into educational psychology alone will not be sufficient. The bridge from and to the neurosciences needs to extend beyond this initial beachhead into educational research on teaching and learning at specific grade levels and content areas. The assistance of scholars in teacher education and naturalistic classroom inquiry should be brought to bear ,and,happily,a healthy number of education scholars of this sort already evince an interest in the project.Research on the nervous system is notresearch on instruction,assessment,classroom management or curriculum; generating coherent applications from one for the other would not be a simple matter. To pursue educational neuroscience research, educational researchers have collaborated with neuro-physiologists, neuro-cytologists, developmental and cognitive psychologists,bio-medical technicians, statisticians, and so on, to winnow useful findings inspired by and informing of educational questions. It is important that educational researchers contributing to educational neuroscience not be shy to acknowledge their credentialed expertise in education. After all, that is what they have of value to offer educational neuroscience and bring to interdisciplinary research collaborations with neuroscientists."

Tuesday, 13 November 2012 at 11:11:00 GMT  
Blogger Rony Schenker, OTR, PhD, Tsad Kadima, Israel said...

Did anyone watch the video?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012 at 11:50:00 GMT  
Blogger Rony Schenker, OTR, PhD, Tsad Kadima, Israel said...

Did anyone watch the video?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012 at 11:57:00 GMT  
Anonymous Sue OReilly said...

Yes I did Rony - interesting.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012 at 19:27:00 GMT  

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