Tuesday, 26 July 2016


Two general, transformative principles

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L. S. Vygotskii

I write here from memory...

It was some time in the mid nineteen-nineties, in the then still new building at the National Institute of Conductive Education in Birmingham. I was just about to go down the stairs from the first floor when Mel Brown came up.

'You're a psychologist,' she greeted me, 'give me a couple of psychological principles of teaching in Conductive Education,' or words to that effect.

'That will take a bit of working out', I replied, my mind elsewhere. When I got to the foot of the stairs, though, I stopped and turned around.

Stop, wait,' I called back up. 'How about these two?'

Just like that

It is funny how the mind can conjure up ideas, connections, generalisations, almost in a instant of time, as an immediate product of a given situation.

I told her what had had occurred to  me in a flash as I reached the foot of the stairs, and I took this away with me, to ponder the two principled points that I had offered. On further examination these continued to accord with my observations, and the observations and experiences of others, and also with things that I read (particularly from the pen of Mária Hári). So I incorporated them into lectures on conductive pedagogy that I gave to student-conductors.

What I think in this respect some twenty or so years later is not substantively different from the clang response that sprang to mind in response to the question posed me, in the time that it took to walk down a single flight of stairs some years ago. I have not seen, read or heard anything in the ensuing years to give me cause to withdraw them. I have no doubt that they could be refined.

Two simple principles of conductive teaching

These are not claimed to be novel or unprecedented, nor in any way unique to conductive pedagogy:
  • Always provide the least necessary help to achieve goals
  • Reward trying to achieve something new, rather than rewarding performance of what has already been learned.
The two principles of course complement each other, and are central to the process of conductive facilitation. 

Both should be exercised flexibly, dynamically, drawing continually upon sensitive conductive observation and creative imagination to balance between appreciation of what has already been achieved and anticipation of what might come next. Pedagogues should not just confirm what learners have already learned and made their own, who they already are, but facilitate means whereby they might develop further.

Those who teach offend against these principles at their learners' peril. Teaching to and reinforcing present rather that potential level of development. its yesterday rather than its tomorrow, should never do. Don't do it!

No doubt others express this better. I just wish that more would.

A little more on this

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