Wednesday, 24 February 2016


Is this important or can it be thrown away?
'Conductive Education,' Mária Hári often said, 'it is a system'.

For Franz Schaffhauser, elaboration of this system during her time as Director of András Pető's State Institute was Mária's particular contribution to the development of Conductive Education. 
What András Pető himself might have thought about on this matter of 'a system' is (as usual!) not at all clear. At one point though, when and in what context one does not know, he asserted –
      It is not a system it is a method

As often the case, what he actually meant by this is less than clear.

What is certain, however, is something else that Mária would frequently affirm: 'It is very complex'. Very complex indeed, an extraordinary tangle of ideas and practices, formulations and applications, that has grown like Topsy over the years in response to an ever-widening range of circumstances and ideas, pressures and opportunities. For example :
  • features surviving from the time of András Pető himself and his own particular personal experiences, knowledge, personality etc.,
  • others from the regime of Mária Hári and from the realities of surviving within a state institute in the context of Goulash Socialism
  • the process of feminisation that began right back when András Pető began to relinquish direct daily control of his Institute
  • the logistic and financial requirements of its 'health-tourism' role in Hungary
  • the struggles to find sustainable niches elsewhere in the world, to meet novel and diverse requirements
  • new policy memes such as inclusion, accountability
  • 'rights'
  • widespread and implacable professional antipathy
  • fads, individual enthusiasms, practices and theories that might have seemed like a good idea at the time, to someone, somewhere, at some time or other, and have adhered to the canon.
And along the way there are other things that, whatever their utility in themselves, and their possible importance for other aspects of the work, have for similar reasons just dropped out of use and have been forgotten. What has been added and taken away are the result of specific situations, and they have not come and gone to meet conscious programmes of reculturalisation or development, or on the basis of  a priori theorising and/or empirical testing.

Increasingly, it may be inappropriate to describe what exists now as either a system or a method, at least in the sense as might applied to the work under András Pető or Mária Hári. 

Clearing out our stuff

If Conductive Education is indeed becoming less a system than a growing number of ad hoc collection, accumulated here and there over the years, it is surely Educations is not unique in this respect. Its rapid spread around the world and a lack of a coherent and accepted written literature, may have made it particularly prone, however, to growing in this way. No matter, it is always time for a clear-out, a spring clean.

Getting rid of our 'stuff' is a continuing topic for the newspapers, there are books and TV programmes on how to do it, people earn their living from advising on how to do this, or even from coming in doing it themselves. Perhaps the principles strategies and techniques involved here should not really be so different from what might be applied to Conductive Education, be that what is in our own heads or with respect to 'the system' as a whole.

Being a lifelong collector and hoarder I am hardly qualified to speak if this. But for those more directly involved with Conductive Education, just how should one choose what might be thrown away (and what may be needed to fill its gap), how to sort the wheat from the chaff, how to avoid throwing out the baby with the bathwater, without simply repeating the ad hoc serendipity processes that created the present problem in the first place?

How is Conductive Education going to find the R&D (research and development) sufficient for this task?



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home