Monday, 19 November 2012


As opposed to the drudgery, aggression and fear that András Pető rebelled against

Emma McDowell writes –
I read with great interest the reflexions of a past pupil on his life in the Pető Institute:
I agree – based on my son George’s and my own experiences – that planned daily routine was extremely important in the Institute, although George was never a boarder. He actually liked the predictability experienced in the Institute, and as we returned from year to year to Budapest for our two to three months' stints (during the late seventies and early/middle eighties), he often sighed with satisfaction: 'Everything has been changing in Hungary, but the Institute is the same!'
Now to my own thoughts on the subject:
To exist successfully in the real world routine is a great help for disabled people. They do have to plan their moves – mobility is all – and yes, it is reflected to some extent in their overall way of life.
To be honest, they are not much different in this respect from a whole lot of ordinary people!!!
Some people (mostly young and carefree) can afford a more Bohemian way of life, but even in a 'see how it goes' attitude there is a planned start, and a feeling of security in the self, such as 'I can always walk home…' (think of this on various levels!)
The type of self-reliance that conductive education aims to give to people (whose personalities would otherwise develop towards the opposite end, reaching higher and higher levels of dependency) is firmly anchored in reality. Pető considered teaching children how to put their weight on their feet IMPORTANT. He wanted to achieve this. For the children, it was hard but ultimately most satisfying work. (As it was for their educators, and their families.) Yes it influenced their later lives. Positively.
What Pető rebelled against in his poem was of course not the sort of positive – through repetition and practice developing – routine that characterized life for the boarders at his institute. In that there was aim, talent, innovativeness, joy (even if sometimes preceded by tears). Boring perhaps but which child doesn’t find school often boring? I certainly did; and, having lived in Hungary in the decades of communism I also know exactly what Pető’s “drudgery” (and aggression, and fear) mean in his poem! The outside atmosphere was unavoidably such for most people. He had to suffer it – go along with it to a certain extent, in order to protect what he wanted to be allowed to live and prosper: the Institute, Conductive Education!



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