Friday, 28 August 2015


Refections of its former Rector

Zita Makói retired from the Rectorship of the then Pető Institute in August 2007. She wrote the paper below in English almost immediately afterwards, and it was published in December of the same year. It reflected upon the wide programme of change that her experience suggested was required – giving thoughtful readers pause to consider what the situation had been to require such basic and wide-ranging changes.

The article was published in the twice-yearly journal RACE (Recent Advances in Conductive Education), vol. 6, no 3, pp. 36–39, 2007


Zita S. Makói

ABSTRACT. Recently retired from Rectorship of the Pető Institute, the author reflects from her tenure there upon the links required to end the previous isolation of that institution. She expresses these as ‘bridges’: to the birth of the method, to scientific findings, to recent professional needs, to the needs of society, to the needs of conductors, to the mother institute, and to the future.

Keywords: Pető Institute, organisational development, conductors

No man is an island, entire of itself – John Donne

When, as individuals, institutions or organisations, we have reached a certain point of development we try to size up where we are, find the direction for going further, what we need to change and what we need to keep for our further growth. I have chosen the title ’Bridges’ in a symbolic way, as bridges create new connections, they create flow, they certainly create change and new dimensions. We need all these processes in Conductive Education in general and at the Pető Institute specifically. 

Bridge to the birth of the method

It is well known that the Pető-method is a synthesis of many fields of knowledge, such as pedagogy, medicine, psychology, sociology and some traditional oriental systems like yoga. It means that who learn and teach Conductive Education should have a mental store of such knowledge and those who practise it should draw upon all relevant databases for their professional growth and questions around ‘the legal protection of the method’ should be clarified. Besides the need to protect and maintain the standard and quality of the professional education and practice, the concept of knowledge-management has undergone significant change. In an ideal situation it should be pre-eminent to share the knowledge, to share it through education, support its flow and its renewal – instead of having the inclination and the practice to hold on to it and treat it as a secret. The Pető-method can no longer be protected as a ’know-how’, since its basic content has already been transmitted through education and training.

It should, however, be necessary to have a written manual, a ‘cook book’, that incorporates the original knowledge and adds information gained subsequently, adapts it to the recent needs of professionals who apply it and to the recent needs of families who are its users. This should include:
  • the conditions, the diagnoses for which the Pető-method can be useful;
  • basic elements of the system or method;
  • basic necessary space and equipment for the method;
  • the basic professional human-resource needs of the
  • method;
  • special vocabulary;
  • the boundaries for what can be called ’Conductive Education’.
Bridge to recent scientific findings

A vast amount of scientific discoveries have accumulated in recent years, that are close to the Peto-method and its subjects. For example, there is the importance of foetal life and the first years for later emotional development and for the functioning of the basic building elements of our personality. Then there are ever more studies of the functioning of the mind, and the appearances of new imaging techniques and electrophysiological measurements. We need to build these into Conductive Education and apply them in our own research.

The structure of research activity has changed as well. Instead of a culture of predominantly isolated PhD-holders at the Pető Institute, it would be necessary to create group activity, research should be a part of professional education, and it would also be necessary to develop the culture of international cooperation.

We have to be aware that today and in the future worthwhile scientific results must be regarded as a tool for accepting or refusing a method that is financed and supported by the public authorities.

The need for evidence-based research on Conductive Education has already emerged but, as well as its everyday profit, this also shapes the mentality of those who cultivate it. I mention here just a few such heuristic publications from different disciplines:
  • quality of experience before term may alter not only the brain function but also brain structure (Als, et al., 2004);
  • cerebral initiation of a spontaneous, freely voluntary act can begin unconsciously, that is before there is any (at least recallable) subjective awareness that a ‘decision’ to act has already been initiated cerebrally, which introduces certain constraints on the potential for conscious initiation and control of voluntary acts (Libet et al., 1983);
  • experience shapes human brain development and function, stimulating environments lead to enhanced brain growth, learning and intelligence (Neville, 2004);
  • importance of ‘evidence-based’ practice and outcome-determination in children with developmental disabilities (Neville and Limperopoulos, 2004).
Bridge to recent professional needs

We change the length of our skirts with relative ease, and our cars and other material belongings, but we seemingly have difficulty in pursuing the changes necessary in the invisible world. For example, our clients perceive good service in a different way from how they did thirty years ago and cooperation within the profession has a different meaning and different practice. Further, evaluation of the Pető method should be based on different rules from when the method was born, and the role of families, their words, their feelings about our everyday work has undergone immense change:
  • our service should answer to the recent needs of society
  • our clients – the children and adults – are the focus (a paradigm shift)
  • market-standing, profitability;
  • cost-efficiency;
  • proving the method’s efficiency (evidence-based scientific method);
  • undertake scientific research, international scientific research, about elements of the Peto-method which have not yet been studied;
  • active participation in the scientific forums of other professions, for example perinatology, early intervention, rehabilitation, occupational therapy, education for children with disabilities;
  • more publication of the results of Conductive Education in international journals;
  • application of a quality-assurance system in Conductive Education and teaching (there can so easily be a gulf between written policy and everyday practice, the ‘we have a big book about it’ syndrome);
  • dialogue about the application of the Pető-method in different cultures;
  • development of standards for Conductive Education (architecture, equipment, human resources, cooperation with different specialisms, professional standards for Conductive Education, personal competence).
Particularly, establishment of standards may then provide in turn for:
  • legal and professional protection of the Pető-system;
  • opportunity to include the results of recent scientific advances;
  • a platform of lifelong learning, for conductors and other specialists, promotion of cooperation between conductors, inside a given country and internationally;
  • promotion of cooperation with other specialists.
Bridge to the needs of the society

Families require different support from what they did thirty or forty years ago. It has become a skill, a skill which providers of Conductive Education should learn, to give proper information to the clients, part of this being information about the possible beneficial effect or limits of Conductive Education, or any other intervention. Fortunately, knowledge about the significance of emotions has gained ground. Thirty or forty years ago it was considered someone’s very private business to have feelings: these should be left at home. Now they are beginning to find a place in our work, and emotional intelligence is a must, especially in Conductive Education.

The social situation of families who need Conductive Education has changed as well, it has became harder for many of them to achieve paid access to Conductive Education – but it is even more problematic to look after a family member who is not self-dependent. The balance between a disabled child’s living within the family or being kept away for the sake of ‘proper education’ has shifted in favour of the family and to providing services on the spot. In these new circumstances we have to help families, our clients, including the children, to gain every kind of necessary information. Provision of a ‘proper’ conductive service must now include:
  • pursuing a family-centered approach in Conductive Education;
  • developing real communication with parents;
  • developing proper emotion-management, like handling
  • the dynamics of emotions between the client andthe conductor, between the family and the conductor,
  • between the family members and the child or client, and applying a high professional standard;
  • support establishment of a sustainable life-strategy for the children; promoting the children’s adaptation to the ‘external’ world, to the community outside the Pető Institute or other Conductive Education centres;
  • supporting organisation of routine daily medical care, for example appointments with the ophthalmologist;
  • providing access to accurate legal information about children with disabilities, instead of relying on a belief system;
  • promoting development of family-support groups.
Bridge to the needs of conductors

During the process of becoming a conductor, the mind is engaged first. With experience, it is hoped, the heart is involved as well. For most who have taken up Conductive Education, it has provided a lifetime of involvement. As a result of our changed world, conductors should:
  • pass through all of the changes in society that many other professionals and institutions has already beenthrough;
  • develop different emotional and mental attitudes;
  • enhance the process of their own personal development (find solutions instead of blaming the external world or someone else, being offended and resisting – rather than discovering choices, rather than insisting on their own opinion, and accepting different beliefs, thoughts and hypotheses);
  • take responsibility for their own physical, emotional, and mental well-being;
  • follow lifelong learning;
  • find a balance between giving and getting during everyday work;
  • recognise the destructive role of certain informal communications, like gossip;
  • develop positive thinking;
  • develop a business mentality;
  • learn the written culture of the recent past;
  • accept and to pursue the changed concept of management and directing;
  • develop an internationally acceptable scale of conductors’ competency;
  • find ways to ‘register’ the conductor profession in those countries where it has not happened yet;
  • the education system for conductors should support their ability to find a comfort zone working in a multi-professional service.
Bridge to the mother institute

The main building of the Pető Institute – to have which was only a dream in the life of Pető – is now under reconstruction and renovation. We have also, however, started renewal of the several hundred processes within the Institute that constitute the basis of its everyday services and work. Change of mentality and attitude within those walls is essential, this is the starting point for achieving growth and ‘sustainable’ development, to keep the Institute alive. Given such change, the Institute could serve as a creative and cooperative source:
  • building a professional network, creating a worldwide web of conductors based on transparent rules and pathways;
  • protecting and renewing the brand name and the quality behind this;
  • protecting the quality of the conductor diploma;
  • protecting the standard of the Pető system, playing a leading role in standardising basic processes, for which conductors have to learn new formal skills;
  • providing a platform for all kinds of professional discussion;
  • facilitating knowledge-sharing and transfer;
  • acting as a point of inspiration for research;
  • taking steps to contribute to international registration of the conductor profession;
  • renewing the ethical base for the conductors’ work (written, verbal and non-verbal);
  • dealing with the internal resistance that prevents the growth of Conductive Education, such as the attitude towards medical science and towards making the method’s results measurable through applying internationally accepted scales;
  • providing a good model for undergraduate and post-graduate education and, for the practice of Conductive Education, being a model of best practice.
As epigraph to this paper I used the well known line of John Donne. This offers us an open-ended message.

No man is an island, entire of itself
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.

There is an interconnectedness between all of those who have been members of the Conductive Education microcosm, either as clients, conductors or other professionals. The effects of whatever has happened within the Pető Institute have been experienced all over the world, like the Butterfly Effect.

There are conductors who have left the Institute and have still kept their bad feelings, and there are conductors who are not welcomed in the Institute.

Those who practise Conductive Education may meet many words and actions that have changed their meaning, like its being more up-to-date now to practice ‘empowerment’ than ‘help’. Similarly the good practice of competition is about supporting each other’s development rather than entering into rivalry and, with a cooperative attitude, one should somehow find the appropriate balance

Emotional intelligence and getting and giving sufficient joy through the practice of Conductive Education is essential. Collective traumas have to be worked through and worked out, like the primordial trauma of Pető’s method not being accepted by the healthcare system, in order now to be able to ‘hang new paintings on the wall’. When you are over sixty years old, like Conductive Education, you have to come out of the traumas of your childhood, accept that you are not a child any more, and have different abilities.

We must make a good impression upon those who have contact with Conductive Education and with the Pető Institute everywhere, by the best professional education, by the best practice, by excellent management, and by forgiveness.


Als, H., Duffy, F. H., McAnulty, G. B., Rivkin, M. J., Vajapeyam, S., Mulkern, R. M., Warfield, S., K, Huppi, P.S., Butler, S. C., Conneman, N., Fischer, C., Eichenwald, E. C., (2004) Early experience alters brain function and structure. Pediatrics, 113(4), pp. 846–857

Libet, B., Gleason, C. A., Wright, E. W., Pearl, D. K. (1983) Time of conscious intention to act in relation to onset of cerebral activity (Readiness-potential), Brain, 106(3), pp. 623–642

Neville, H. J. (2004) Human developmental plasticity. A paper presented at 12th annual conference, Dharamsala, India, Boulder, Co.: Mind and Life Institute. [online]

Majnemer, A., Limperopoulos, C. (2002) Importance of outcome determination in pediatric rehabilitation, Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 44(11), pp. 773–777

(Apologies for the stretches of blue text above. I do not know how it happened, and cannot get rid of it!)

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Anonymous Andrew Sutton said...

Dr Zita Makói, former Rektor of the PAI, died in the morning of 12 August 2015.
She was 75.
Read more →


Friday, 28 August 2015 at 21:47:00 BST  

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