Monday, 24 February 2014


Another golden theme

A long time ago, as Western families first began to discover Conductive Education, in different countries and in different ways a variety of factors came together to create situations in which children could experience conductive regimes in a variety of then still unfamiliar situations. Driving these innovations in conductive practice was not some explicitly argued a priori educational requirement, but the limited time and money that parents and carers could afford.

To define its own short-term placements of this kind the Pető Institute coined the rather odd term 'interval Conductive Education'. Whatever term is used, 'summer programs', 'camps', 'blocks' etc., for many people around the world intermittent provision has been the only experience of conductive pedagogy that they could afford.

Surprisingly then, there has been little published to describe such work, never mind theorise or evaluate it in terms of pedagogic changes and innovations required (if any). Nor has there been much public discussion of what bridging and follow-over requirements might be needed in the times between the intervals, or how this might be incorporated into families' wider and longitudinal upbringing and lifestyle requirements.

Without a communicable knowledge-base transmitted as part of a 'technical literature', it is hard to judge the status of such practice within individual conductors' 'technical tool kits'. Its appearance at around an arbitrary date of, say, 1990 marked practical departure from the general practice that Mária Hári had inherited and rightly or wrongly fought hard to preserve. Like the by then 'traditional' mode of service-delivery, which has been predominantly continuous and long-term, the new way of conductive working was not supported by elaboration of new theoretical insights of how the process works.


'More research is needed', as they say. An active R&D programme could certainly find some Interesting research questions about 'interval Conductive Education'. Some examples:
  • How much is there of it about?
  • What forms does it take (indeed, is there a definite 'it' or is the very category problematical)?
  • What are its perceived benefits and disadvantages, in what circumstances?
  • What might be its ideal principles (if any)?
  • What does 'intensive' mean?
  • Why do some families and young people stick with it and make it part of their lives over a period of years, while others drop out and look for something else?
  • How do some providing organisations manage to sustain a loyal, enthusiastic client- base over the years, while others do not?
  • What sorts of strategies have proved advantageous in helping service-users bridge the 'intervals' that are the defining feature of this service-delivery model, and ease the switchback, roller-coaster drop in performance sometimes reported during the times between interventions?
  • What are the detectable effects, positive and otherwise, of interval Conductive Education?
  • How might specific learning achieved on, say, a four-week summer block be understood and planned to have longer-lasting, self-sustaining effects within the lives of learners and their families?
Perhaps such basic questions have already been examined. Do please share where answers to questions such as these might be found. For starters, what would be a good entry point into 'the literature'?

Yewande's report

My mind was brought back to this topic by a nice personal report from someone who has experienced childhood-long interval Conductive Education, specifically annual 'summer camps' at the Pető Institute in Budapest, from the aged of seven to date (and hopes to continue in the future).

Yewande Akintelu-Omoniyi is a 22-year-old Londoner with cerebral palsy. Recently published on line is her own informal personal evaluation of interval Conductive Education. It is well worth a read:

Akintelu-Omoniyi, Y. (2014) Life with Conductive Education, Playing with Angels, 17 February

Yewande has been a member of VIPER (involving young disabled people in analysis, reporting and dissemination)

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