Tuesday, 14 November 2017




Ralph Strzełkowski's book, Never, Never Quit, an edited compilation of postings on Conductive Education from his blog Lawyer on Wheels., was published in 2013, Following the book's publication Ralph continued mentioning Conductive Education on his blog, and  Conductive World is pleased now from time to time to remind its readers of what he wrote in those later CE blog postings.

The adult voices of those who have grown up with Conductive Education should stand as an important perspective amongst the understandings of all those others who have taken part in Conductive Education over the years.

CE prides itself on its 'human factor', but how do its processes and the alternative look to those who have learnt and developed under its influence? The point of view of its learners virtually never finds public expression. yet their numbers likely far exceed those of any other group to have contributed to all this activity.

Here Ralph writes here about how one important consideration of conductive pedagogy and upbringing looked to him.

A personal victory moment

Michael J Fox is back on TV this season and this time the character – just like the actor – has Parkinson's disease. A lot of the show's intended humour comes from his coming to terms with disability and interacting with the outside world, as the man he plays decides to return to his successful newscaster career and is not about to let his condition stop him. You may want to catch this NBC sitcom as soon as you can as the ratings so far don't warrant a second season.

Before you say that it may be that an American audience is not comfortable seeing art imitating life and someone with such visible disability. Let me say that I've seen Fox, who was a comedic genius of the eighties and nineties, in much funnier things than this.

Either way, before the show premiered the network decided to promote it with a scene that has the family at the table having dinner together. Fox is reaching out slowly but surely to put food on everyone's plate. Focused, he gets on target – 

Can you not have a personal victory right now? his wife interrupts... We're starving.

It's intended as comedy of course and it shows that Fox is comfortable making fun of himself. But it made me think of my own personal experiences. A lot of times when I was a child and even a teenager, if we were in hurry my parents would just do things for me, because there wasn't a time for me to do it myself.

Sometimes this involved finishing dressing me up or putting on my shoes, although I could always do it myself. Sitting me in the car or grabbing me from the car although I've done it myself a million times. Sometimes it was about getting me out of my bath or rinsing my hair. Because it was quicker and they did not have the patience.

It's odd to think of independence as something you need to find time for, something that isn't practical, something that gets in the way. My mother has always thought of me doing things for myself as some kind of demonstration. Something I did to show everyone that I could. She didn't quite understand that I've done it, because that's what people do. Not to prove to anyone that I can, not to have a personal victory moment. I can either function in the society by myself and do all those things or I can't, and there are no short cuts.

It was not being stubborn, but having people do things for me didn't help me do the things I needed to do on my own. And in ways I felt violated. Not only because someone would literally walk in on me having a bath. But they would override my independence and often violate my personal space because at the time it wasn't convenient. Because you obviously are allowed to flourish when everyone has time for it. And when that happens it undoes so many things that I've done for myself with one move or a harsh remark.

I had had very few avenues to express myself, very few moments that were only mine. Not a lot of moments that you can keep private, because for a lot of things I had to rely on other people. The more I felt dependent the more independent I wanted to be. It wasn't a hobby or something I did for show. I wanted to live my life. And in life people dress themselves and feed themselves and go places. Do dishes, laundry and shop and clean. I wanted to be normal, but how in so many ways I felt abnormal. I didn't do it to be cute.

12 November 2013


Strzełkowski, R. (2013) Personal victory moment, Never, Never Quit, 12 November

Strzełkowski, R. (2013) Never, Never Quit, Birmingham, CEP


Ralph's CE writings

Book of a blog

On his growing up with cerebral palsy, his life as a pupil at the then Pető Institute, and starting a new, independent life in America 

His book 
Never, Never Quit is a rare bird indeed. You can preview it, and order a copy, here:

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