Saturday, 23 November 2013

DR WHO?

50th anniversaries

All around the world today children and adults will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first appearance of 'the Doctor', on 23 November 1963:


A long time ago? Perhaps not. It depends upon your viewpoint.

Another time, two different worlds

In the Autumn of 1963 Britain and Hungary were worlds apart. 

There had been a parliamentary election in Hungary on 24 August 1963. The Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (the Communists) had been the only party to contest the elections, and won 252 of the 340 seats, the remaining 88 going to independents selected by the Party.

Soon after that, on 11 September, came András Pető's seventieth birthday. He received a letter from Pál Ilku, the Minister of Education –
You have had to face lots of difficulties and obstacles on your way, and lack of understanding, but now it is clear that the large-scale introduction of your pedagogical method is inevitable and very necessary. I honour your strength and persistence in pursuing your noble aims.
The letter described András Pető's's work as being unique in the world, and confirmed its transfer from Health to Education.

Pál Ilku was a former soldier who served as Minister of Education from 1961 until his death in 1973. He had played a significant role in organizing the police strengths that consolidated the Communist regime following the 1956 uprising. Had he not died when he did, he might now be aged 101 – and possibly under house arrest like fellow minister Béla Biszku (now aged 92). Back in 1963 they appear to have been jointly instrumental in the Institute's transferring from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Education, and becoming a főiskola (college) – so opening the door to conductor-training. This was András Pető's tactical masterstroke, freeing him from the direct control of the medical establishment – though there would of course be running battles with authority till he died four birthdays later, in the very room where he had likely received that momentous letter, on 11 September 1967.

Hungary was entering the period of 'goulash Socialism'. Meanwhile in Britain, 1963 saw the rise of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones – and the arrival of Dr Who. The Swinging Sixties were upon us (allegedly). Another world indeed.

References

Maguire, G., Sutton, A. (eds) (2012) András Pető, Birmingham, Conductive Education Press
(especially pp. 89, 94, 178, 216)

Sutton, A. (2013) András Pető's patient and supporter charged: Béla Biszku indicted
Conductive World, 16 October

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