Friday, 9 September 2016


CE's friend at a hard time

Largely forgotten now in Conductive Education, I suspect, is the paediatrician (and aviation doctor) Alexander Russell.

He cut an independent and path in his varied career, and attracted discussion even after he had died, in 2003:
In the early nineteen-nineties he was one of the few professionals who pitched publicly into the furore in the United Kingdom over the 'Birmingham Research' – on the side of Conductive Education. (This is not mentioned in the three items linked to above.)

He and I did not agree over how conductive practice might be best transferred and handed on, but he did take a principled public stance on the research that had just been published. If followed by others this could have helped generate more widespread critical debate and fend off some of the damage to Conductive Education's public reputation from what were being uncritically interpreted as unfavourable research findings.

The small, critical book that he published at the time is not proving easy to find.

It its a great pity that this book seems to have been lost to the list of references that academic reviewers considered when reviewing 'CE-research' over the ensuing years. None did.

It would be a shame too were his contribution to be also lost from the turbulent annals of Conductive Education.


Russell, A. (1994) Evaluation of Conductive Education: A statistical overkillAcorn Foundation 

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Anonymous Andrew Sutton said...

Judit Szathmáry comments (via Facebook) –

'I was lucky enough to be introduced to Alexander Russell by Esther Cotton and on that day we have spent an afternoon at his family home discussing Conductive Education, education and upbringing in general. Quite unusual from someone with a medical background. It was very refreshing as he understood CE more than others with a clinical background and medical intervention approach to Cerebral Palsy etc. I met him a few times after that afternoon as he worked closely with Esther and I was I subcontracted by the Hornsey Centre at that time. He visited often. He was driven and passionate. I remember the time when the research result was published. Professor Russell was very angry and kept listing the faults of the research, which were so obvious I don't even know how could they get away with it. As a result he wrote his response in a booklet. I must still have it somewhere as he gave me one. Thank you Andrew for bringing back this memory. Those days the world of Conductive Education was exciting and something very worthwhile to be part of. We were proud to represent such a unique, humane and result orientated system. Dr Hari was still alive and strong keeping the fire burning in the heart of the spirit of all involved.'

Friday, 9 September 2016 at 17:52:00 BST  

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