Monday, 20 March 2017


Two national institutions
Hungary and the UK
In the UK and most of the rest of the world, people speak of 'Conductive Education' (or the equivalent in their local language). In Hungary particularly and to some degree elsewhere people often speak of 'Pető' (or 'Peto' or Petö). In Hungary, when they say this, they almost always mean specifically one particular institution, the PAF (that is the András Pető College in Budapest').
There is  little public analysis, anywhere, to what these terms might mean or imply.
Never mind here what they mean, there has been concern expressed for some years now that public mentions of Conductive Education (or Pető) are rare, to the degree that in the US and the UK conscious attempts have been made annually to bring its very existence in to greater into wider public view through Conductive Education Awareness Days or Weeks.
The general outcome of these do nor seem to have been upsurges of public interest. Questions of 'awareness' (and 'brand-awareness'). variously defined, and how to raise these, are matters of considerable interest in the big wide world, in politics, commerce. and other fields. Outside what might go on within individual institutions, however, this question has not been generally aired and shared in the little world of Conductive Education.
One might wonder why. Someone looking in might from outside might find this all rather puzzling. This, however, is not the topic here. This posting draws intention to two specific,  instances of major public awareness that have been occurring simultaneously in two different countries, the UK and Hungary. If there areany conclusion to be drawn towards a wider more analytic discussion, then that is up to its readers.
This week many Hungarians must have be very aware of the row that has broken out across their public media over the salaries of the conductors at PAF who work with adults.. Not for the first time 'Peto' has been the subject to some probably altogether unwished for national awareness.
But before I proceed:
(1) I am myself very aware from my own personal experience just how horrible such situations can be to everyone involved, on whatever side of such dispute, and how destructive such events can be to the life of an affected institution and those involved with it. I know just how painful it can all be to be caught up in such a thing. Even though this wages business is happening in a far-away country of which I know very little, to people whom I do not know, I do, however, know what it feels like to wake up in the mornings and remember what is there waiting. I also know that there are many others around the world who, whether within CE or without, have experienced the same terrible feelings about a wide range of events.
(2) Though I might 'feel the pain' I have no way of knowing the rights and wrongs involved in this specific issue, The topic here is the awareness that it has generated.
The Hungarian media narrative of 'Pető' over the years (still generally referred to as the Pető Intézet) appears to have run something like this: Pető is to do with children, these children usually look pretty cute, it is a national treasure (Hungarikum), world-famous and internationally acknowledged – unproblematical. This is perhaps not all that different from the safe image consciously projected by many Western CE bodies. I do not of course know what the Hungarian in the street thinks, or the political class there, or even the world of relevant Hungarian academe.
One often hears it said that 'there is no such thing as bad publicity'. There is good reason why many consider this this is simply not so. An alternative folk wisdom is 'Mud sticks'. Again, I have seen this happen, when some years ago the public image of Conductive Education in the UK and abroad was severely damaged by the nationwide, malign publicity generated by the 'Birmingham research'. Now in Hungary there has been an impromptu national awareness week, producing much heat and little light. Joe Public and others there may certainly feel the heat of all this but how might they be affected by what they have seen and heard?
Perhaps all this fuss will die down and its effects just blow away, and everything will just go on as before. Meanwhile, however, the Hungarian Socialist Party has also pitched into the political arena, along with the Dialogue Party. They think it's all over?
As usual, though the row has not been spotted by the media outside Hungary that once took such a keen interest in Conductive Education...
I do not know what to do about documenting the Hungarian media attention alluded to here, so I have simply appended a list, almost certainly incomplete. Note that this includes links that may or may not remain live.
United Kingdom
Dame Vera Lynn is a very different kind of national institution. When I was small she was a singer whose performances on the wireless (the radio) and in public contributed significantly to the national morale both on the Home Front and in the Armed Services. She was was the 'Forces' Sweetheart' and remained so for years after the war was over. For a dwindling many, she still is.
My own favourite song of hers when I was little was Lilli Marlene. Given the song's wartime history this seems a poignantly telling present-day video of her her singing it:
On Friday she released a new album, the oldest person ever to do so:
On Saturday she appeared at a tribute event at the London Palladium:
Monday is her hundredth birthday, and her image will be projected on to the White Cliffs of Dover...
It will be hard for people in this country, and for relevant populations around the world, not to some degree to be aware of this. This is not merely because she has been a widely revered and respected individual, but because there has been a quiet but powerful campaign to raise public awareness of what is going on, building for months now. It just happen. It was planned.
Documentation for the above? Try this for size:
As Crocodile Dundee might have said, 'That's public awareness'.
And what has any of this to do with Conductive Education? Proceeds are to go to Charity, specifically to Dame Vera's own charity, the DVLT (the Dame Vera Lynn Trust):
The DVLC has recently moved to new premises, and has been looking for further conductors
The plentiful media reports on the Dame Vera's centenary have made copious reference to the contribution that this will make to the DVLT. I do not think that the Dame Vera connection was mentioned over the coincidental national conductive awareness campaign. Food for thought there, too.
Previous postings on the wages question

Hungarian media coverage for “Pető Intézet”, March 2017
As found by on 19.03,17 
A keresés eredménye 23 találat




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