Saturday, 22 February 2014


Who needs them?
CE does

Ralph Strzałkowski has been 'in Conductive Education', and Conductive Education has been 'in Ralph Strzałkowski' since 1986. Only in most recent years, however, has he entered Conductive Education's tiny public arena. He has done so from a very different background, with very different credentials, from those 0f most who have walked CE's public stage.

Take your pick: he has cerebral palsy, and he experienced C0nductive Education as as child (at the World Famous, no less); he grew up in Eastern Europe, Poland, under Communism; he is a highly qualified professional, an attorney: he has successfully run the official obstacle course to win himself a right to live and work in the United States, where he lives a wholly new life. It should hardly be surprising therefore that he perceives things and then remarks upon them in ways that are not often explicitly stated in the public domain by those whose entry into Conductive Education has been through more usual routes.

Not like lawyers

A recent posting on his blog Lawyer on Wheels raises questions about the 'profession of conductor' as he has observed it operating in the United States. He compares it to his own situation, within his own profession of lawyer –

It appears as if a conductor, once he or she graduates from the [initial training] program is now fully formed and equipped with all the skills needed in the profession and is prepared to take on any challenge... I have no idea what it must be like to know everything you will ever need to know before you get started.

As an attorney in America I'm constantly required to take continuing education courses. Every few years I must report a certain amount of credits or else I'm in trouble. Some may say it's a way to make money off lawyers as those things are both mandatory and not very cheap, but I think it accomplishes a lot of other, positive things. It makes us constantly grow and learn. It exposes me to new areas, developments in ways and concepts that I don't think having me read about it or researching it would. Often it teaches me some practical skill...

I can't think of a profession or a trade that would not benefit from networking. From swapping war stories. From learning that were you've been others were before you. Maybe sharing some tips and hints....

In case you haven't guessed it already, I'm talking about conductors again. I don't quite get how they do what they do: They travel around the world, they often encounter cultures that are strange and foreign to them. They leave their homes and everything familiar and end up often in very intimate family settings. How lonely that must be, how isolating...

Conductors must take on a lot of expectation, of hope of joy, of struggle but also  of disappointment.

Of course this is a general statement that masks enormous individual variation, and it is not a unique observation – others both in and out of the conductor trade have been similarly concerned. This should not, however, detract from the uncomfortable message. In so far as this message has general validity, how much poorer are both conductors and the rest of us.

I do not know what in practice one might do about it. Anyway, it is not my problem.

Black sheep

For a start, though, it woud be functional if problems as big as this one could be aired more regularly. Each of the factors in Ralph's background that I mentioned above brings to the table of Conductive Education fresh reference points and expectations. It is heathy that the world of Conductive Education should be more diverse, less of a monoculture.

CE needs its black sheep. After all, it was founded by one!

Perhaps other black sheep will emerge. Let us hope so. Make them welcome.


Strzałkowski, R. (2014) Continuing Education, Lawyer on Wheels, 16 February

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