Tuesday, 1 April 2014


The start of its internationalisation

Today is All Fools' Day. It is also the date of possibly the most important single event in the long, hard struggle for the internationalisation of Conductive Education.

Before 1 April 1986 what is now widely referred to by the English term 'Conductive Education' was something done 'behind the Iron Curtain', in Hungary. Full stop. On 1 April 1986 a corner was turned and a new quality created  and Conductive Education was on its rocky road to wherever it is now around the world, and wherever it might go from there.

At peak viewing time on the evening of 1 April 1986, BBC TV made the first broadcast of its documentary film Standing up for Joe. Nothing in Conductive Education would ever be the same again
The jury must remain out for the time being on whether significant, sustainable change has been achieved outside Conductive Education – and if so, what and where? Also for future historians is analysis of what for good or ill were the effects of this upon Conductive Education.

Please do not write in and ask for a copy of the film. I do not have one. I do, however, feel free to comment that as a technical account of Conductive Education the film fell way short of ideal – though as a human document and an instrument of propaganda it was extraordinary.

Those were the days. TV and VHS videotapes were at the cutting edge of the technology of popularising knowledge. Ten years previously this British domestic TV programme would have had much less impact – even if it had been politically possible to make it at all. Fast-forward ten years (ah, there's a quaint expression from mid-eighties video technology!). Television was already being edged out of pole position by the emerging Internet – and political change had opened doors to further this. What even greater impact might Standing up for Joe have made had it been first shown in 1996, or even more so in 2006, in the emerging Internet age?

'What if...?' Such a futile question. For that matter, what if the film had not been made at all?Well, we have the past that we have, and can know only as well as we can. The date 1 April offers a reminder, a reason briefly to pause and wonder. Ask yourself where you would be now, what you would be now, even who you would be now, had it not been for that television programme first aired 28 years ago this evening, and for what followed on from it.

If there were ever to be a day to commemorate – even 'celebrate' – an International Conductive Education Day – then this day would surely be it.

An earlier posting around Standing up for Joe

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