Tuesday, 5 January 2016


Watch the Big House 
But remember the far bigger picture

Posts on Conductive World on the recent newspaper story about PAF (the András Pető College):
In no particular order, a few comments and queries:
  • The report was published in the newly renamed and reconstructed newspaper Magyar Idők, which is pro-Government and conservative
  • The report hangs on the plans of the new Rector, Andrea Zsebe, but includes other material too
  • Developments at the PAF are of considerable potential interest to very many people outside Hungary, because the PAF remains the world's largest provider of conductors
  • Conductor-training, will soon be 'protected': it is not made clear what this word means here (surely not legally protected), nor what this might mean to the still growing conductor-training market worldwide.
  • 'Conductor-training on the present dual model': presumably the kindergarten/school distinction in training to BA level
  • 'Masterate training programmes in English, German and Russian': an ambitious aspiration if only in terms of assembling and maintaining the required personnel able to operate academically in these languages
  • 'Practice placements would be extended to include settings in students' own countries so that foreign student conductors would speak the same language as the children with whom they work': er, yes
  • 'It is hoped that this would make the course more attractive to foreign students who currently work only with Hungarian children': the present situation may indeed be a disincentive to foreign enrollment (though it is possible to become a conductor that way, as has been convincingly shown), but are there not other perhaps equal disincentives requiring attention?
  • Might the study-in-own-country proposal be in contradiction with the point made by Vice-Rector Éva Szabó: 'the PAF's family atmosphere … and the fact that it can offer such a wide range of practice to children and adults aged from six months to old age'?
  • 'A longstanding requirement has been met by the recent completion of professional protocols' it is not clear what these might be, perhaps the specification of what are the basic training requirements for conductor-training, perhaps even for conductive practice, in whichever case hidden-curriculum factors such as 'family atmosphere' are surely incorporated
  • 'More effective benchmarking for evaluating performance and student attainment': presumably standard education-management measures such as are followed by professonal training courses around the world – or will this involve something more and or different?
  • 'The institution has an extensive international network of contacts in twenty-one countries but this has not been properly coordinated, requiring a manager to take responsibility for of international relations': depending on how this is done, then implementation of this proposal could prove broadly welcome – as long as it opens a two-way channel for information, understandings, and perhaps more
  • industrial design students from the Budapest Technical University are redesigning aids and equipment, this for the exclusive use of PAF': practitioners and users have been adapting equipment etc. for years (after all, that is how András Pető and and his colleagues created it in the first place) and this initiative might prove really useful – but why (and how) for PAF's exclusive use?
  • The chancellor system introduced by the Hungarian Government last year for the management of higher-educational institutions' has clarified roles and made the system easier to operate': a Mandy Rice Davies moment understandable in the situation.
Levedhetik? Mit? (Protect what?)

A good question, asked me by a conductor correspondent as soon as this story went on line. I could not of course answer her.

I can think only of other questions that I cannot answer, such as 'Protect against whom?' 'Protect on whose behalf?'. And how is such protection to be enforced anyway?

Looking back at the article it does rather look as though the focus is on protecting, safeguarding, defending the PAF. All well and good, these are hard times for all institutions and institutions have to look to themselves and to their own people. Modern-day Hungary has inherited a major working institution from its Socialist days and understandably those who work there join with its potential beneficiaries in not wishing to see it fade away under Capitalism. Good luck to them all in their very difficult situation.

What is now generally referred to round the world as Conductive Education (or a local equivalent) is, however, bigger and more diverse that the PAF. Conductive Education faces different priorities, emphases and potentials in a host of diverse social and economic situations. There is no necessary identity of interest from society to society – even within societies between different groups such as providers (including conductors) and users (not solely individual users). One's problems might be another's opportunities. The world of Conductive Education is much bigger than Hungary and has to go its own ways whatever happens in Budapest.

The future of what is currently called Conductive Education is a higher-order problem.


The chancellor system


Balázs, P. (2015) Levédhetik a Pető Intézet fejlesztő módszereit: nagy tervekkel látott munkához az új Rektor, Tenk Miklósné Zsebe Andrea, Magyar Idők, 29 December

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