Thursday, 3 March 2016


The end

Last year Conductive World reported a new and novel organisation, one marketing the PAF (Pető College) outside Hungary, especially perhaps in Germany. It announced a Brand Ambassador, Stefanie Koehler, who was granted an honorary academic position at the PAF, did some high-profile PR, made connections within German and Hungarian governments, and published a big website. Everything seemed done with smooth, confident panache.

Things went quiet. Then the website disappeared. Now the party's over. Yesterday Stefanie Koehler posted an open letter on Facebook. The original is in German. This is my own best guess of what it said, in English –
Dear friends,

Yesterday I resigned from my voluntary work as a Brand Ambassador for Conductive Education.

The basis for a trusting collaboration with the College management is no longer recognisable to me.

For the sake of Conductive Education, I very much regret this step. The trademark that I myself secured I would like to donate to the András Pető Föiskola in March, as announced. I had registered the logo as a trademark for my role as Brand Ambassador, to support the College and Conductive Education in their economic orientation. As a result, with publication of the logo and listing as a brand, the College administration was informed at the end of 2015.

I still await a response from the College administration,. This then will be my last job, if that is what is wished.

As a private person, however, I warmly thank all the supporters in Hungary and Germany.


This document has now been slightly amplified. See the latest version at:

As in every field, projects come and go all the time in Conductive Education. One usually hears about them when they are set up, then tends not to check on them if not directly affected. But one day perhaps it turns out that there is no longer anything there...

It is very rare to have the end of an operation publicly announced, and to see an account of at least one side of the story.

Does this matter? Perhaps not. Or perhaps it does. There is more to any area of human endeavour than good news, success and smiles. Real life is not all onwards and upwards, consensus and satisfaction, and Conductive Education is very much part of real life. One should not be surprised.

Previous postings


I recall many years ago being very smartly corrected when I used the word 'diplomatic' to Len Appleyard, the then HM Amabassador to Hungary. I had clearly touched a sore point.

I had used the word in the conventional popular sense, implying avoidance of offense to others or hurting their feelings. 'No,' he said, 'diplomats' duty is to convey their governments' policies and actions as clearly and accurately as possible, leaving the smallest possible opportunity of misunderstanding – and to be equally clear of what is being done or said in return' (or words close to that effect, this was after all over twenty-five years ago).

Real-life situations may be be more complicated that this but there is an important truth in Len Appleyard's words.

In Conductive Education there has been considerable attention to avoiding offense to others or hurting their feelings. People are usually 'nice' in what they say or write in public (there have been occasional lapses, I know, but these were matters of ignorance or gross bad taste rather that attempts to express something as clearly and accurately as possible).

As a result, in the short term things may at times a little more comfortable, as everybody rubs along. In the longer term, being diplomatic in the conventional, popular sense may adversely affect people's understandings and judgements upon which important decisions are made. I write this aware that I have been as guilty an anyone of taking this easy option more than in retrospect now appears wise.

Stefanie's personal statement was 'uncomfortable' but there are surely lessons to be learned. I do not really know what a 'Brand Ambassador' actually is but in her final action in this role perhaps she was indeed being diplomatic, in the ambassadorial sense that was explained to me in Budapest all those years ago.

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