Tuesday, 27 November 2012


Try to learn from previous experience

Ralph Strzałkowski grew up in Poland, with cerebral palsy. As a child he was a pupil at the Pető Institute in Budapest. As an adult he emigrated to the United States. He is now an attorney in Florida. Nobody, in English anyway, has so far writeen about a CE childhood like he does on his regular, twice-weekly blog Lawyer on Wheels.

Here are a few lines extracted from this morning's posting –

One thing I was always aware of was how much my parents had to go through to send me to Hungary... I was fully aware how much my parents have put into this to make me better, an odd realization to have when you are seven, eight, nine or ten...

Progress was the operative word with all the methods we have tried... On my first day at the Institute my dad called me (he was in town staying at a local worker's hotel while I spent the night at the Institute).

'Have you made any progress?' he asked.

And I remember how I replied: 'Dad, I've only been here a day!'

I remember it vividly. It was the Fall, September if I remember correctly of 1986. It's not that he demanded progress or that he was mad or disappointed if it didn't happen. But there was a lot of hope that this, [that] this will finally workm that translated into urgency that this needs to happen.

And seeing how everybody is excited for this 'progress"'to take place it was putting all this extra pressure on me. Because what if it doesn't? If I'm not advancing fast enough maybe I'm doing something wrong? It's a huge weight when someone has so much invested in you.

And I don't mean just the money although, let me tell you, knowing forint exchange rate at the age of seven is probably an odd thing by today's standard – but time and tears and prayers...

I never rebelled against anything that happened at the Pető Institute because to my family this was more than education. It was the solution to all our problems, it was the central point of helping me get better...
Looking back, I have to say, I wish my parents had known a bit more about my disability and the Pető method to find a way to help me navigate my own emotions. Maybe take some off the stress off. It would definitely give me less to work through as I'm going through adulthood.
Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest

There are gaping holes is out understanding of Conductive Education, be we parents, carers, conductors, enthusiasts:
  • one is the emotional dynamics within and between the individuals involved in this provided, be they children, adults, family or workers
  • another (overlapping and interacting with the one above, as others do too) is how the whole business works out in the long term because whatever is done or not done will have longitudinal effects, not always just those intended.
Search for these in the 'literature' of Conductive Education. You will find very little. That is an academic problem. But in the world of reality, of practice, of everyday human living, wonder whether points raised in Ralph's personal recollections and reflections extracted here ought to be far more to the forefront when deciding and acting to maximise CE's potential benefits – while doing one's utmost to minimise unintended and potentially deleterious results.


Strzałkowski, R. (2012) Progress, Lawyer of Wheels, 26 November

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