My visitors today

Friday 31 July 2009

School’s out for Summer

"Taking a break", by Susie Mallett, 31st July 2009

It was Bavaria’s last school day today and the first day of the summer traffic-jams on our motorways. Some children were collected from their schools and kindergartens at lunchtime, and went straight off on the family hols. The jams were 15 kilometres long around Nürnberg by 3.30 pm.

It appears that it is not only the schools that are out for summer. So is the provision of physio- and occupational therapy. Not the fault of the therapists may I add.

I was making a home visit at a stroke client’s house today and she had a lot to tell me on this subject.

I realised as I arrived that she was a little bit stiff as she gave me her left hand to shake instead of her right, which is very unusual. This is always an indication of how she is feeling.

While we worked it became more and more apparent that the spasticity in the right side of her body had increased since the previous time that I had seen her, just three weeks ago.

Eventually I asked her what was wrong.

Here is her story

When she went to get her prescription renewed for her twice-weekly physiotherapy sessions she was told that she will have to take a three-month break. The same happened when she needed a new prescription for occupational therapy. A break was enforced that is as long as those that students at university have!

I know that my client is learning, learning to become more and more independent, but I don’t think this is the type of learning that can afford a twelve-week interruption.

This client of mine is very hard-working, always practising in her everyday life everything that she learns with the different people she works with, which includes the physiotherapist and occupational therapist, and me.

Now the health insurance company is imposing an enforced holiday on her. It isn’t that she will stop practising altogether but there is a limit to what she can do alone. As her limbs and extremities become more spastic the less able she is to practise on her own.

She is now in the sixth week with no physiotherapy and the fourth without occupational therapy. She has a long way to go.

She has asked me to go each of the following weeks, whereas I usually go every fourteen days. The physiotherapist is also trying to find a way to work around it.

What can she do?

My client finds it too exhausting to keep making claims against the insurance company. She already has a claim being processed on a different case, and she won a case earlier in the year to get a training cycle paid for.

The health insurance companies bank on this. That sick people and those with motor disorders often don’t have the energy to make claims or have the money or insurance cover for a lawyer.

School may have broken up at last, but we are going to make quite sure that the sessions that this client of mine needs and enjoys continue regularly enough over the next few weeks for her to remain active this summer. My conductive group begins for her on September 1st.

There is not one penny paid by her health insurance company towards Conductive Education.

Maybe it is time for my own summer sale to begin! If I could afford it I could advertise “three for the price of two”, "buy one get a half-a-one free" or "even greater reductions for a jumbo pack".

It was most upsetting to find out that my client is not the only one. This reduction in services seems to be the norm for all people receiving continuous treatment. so summer is certainly out for all of them.

Its a small world

"Fourth prize in the Buda Hills", mountain-biking, 1992

As I was leaving work earlier this evening I saw the friend I am meeting later on in Nürnberg. I cycled over to her, to confirm the arrangements and to save a phone call. I waited a few minutes on the side lines as she was saying goodbye to some visitors.

When she spotted me she grabbed me by the hand and introduced me as “the conductor Susie Mallett”.

I hurriedly made plans for tonight then chatted for ten minutes to the family I had been introduced to , a young man aged twenty-four and his parents..

Why was my friend so eager to introduce me?

Because this young man had been attending the Petö Institute between 1989, the year that I arrived there, and 1998. He had spent two months in Budapest, April and October, for each year for nine years. Now that is quite impressive. He carried on until he was fourteen, which must have been tough.

I believe that I worked with him, I am not sure that I recognised the young man but I recognised his father who had spent all that time in Budapest with him.

In October this young man will be starting a new job at one of the companies that the charity I work for here in Nürnberg has built up, that employs only disabled people. He will be living in the sheltered housing adjacent to our work-rooms. He has already snapped up a place in my Tuesday evening workers' group and has enrolled my services to help him design his living accommodation so that he can be as independent as possible.

All that sorted in ten minutes.

And all with the condition that I only speak English, which is fine by me.

What a small world the world of Conductive Education is.

Thursday 30 July 2009

"Advantage through Technology".

Clockwise from 12.00, Red basil, curry, rosemary and thyme

Vorsprung durch Technik

I thought it time for a bit of the bits in between. The positive bit that is life.

How the Germans sometimes seem to have the edge, in some things anyway

Yesterday I was not intending to shop at all but as I came out of the hairdresser’s I noticed a lot of very healthy-looking plants for sale outside the local Supermarkt. ON closer inspection they turned out to be herbs. Just what I was looking for.

When I moved, my herb collection moved too, to my friends' garden where it is doing extremely well thank you and not wanting to be moved again. So I am making a fresh start in my window boxes.

I may one day retrieve the bay tree but it is already four feet high. It was a six-inch-tall specimen when I got it from a neighbour fifteen years ago.

So yesterday I went into the shop and bought four pots of herbs at 1.99 euros each. On closer inspection the plants really are healthy and they will probably remain so.

Function and style

They came in plastic pots with holes in the bottom, as they would be anywhere, but here in Germany they have an added detail that makes them not only look more attractive but also makes sure that he plants stay moist.

The plastic pots come standing in terracotta plant-holders that had helped and will continue to help them retain their moisture. This is why after standing outside the Supermarkt all day in the blazing sun they still look remarkably well.

The herbs are in place on the balcony now and have already given a lift to the flavour of my supper. Already taking part in the systemics of my life. This bit in between already having a knock-on effect on to the next bit in between, eating.


Second Alma Mata

Sometime between 1989 and 1993, Budapest

Better late than never

Even though it is now too late for me to re-organise my work to attend the second Alma Mata gathering in Budapest, to be held on Friday 28th of August, it is nice at last to have received the information, even this late in the day!

I, along with a few of my colleagues, seem to have been left off the Petö Institute’s mailing list this time around. Luckily the Association for Conductors Working in Germany is on the ball and has passed the information to all of its conductor members.

What's on the menu?

The Alma Mata programme is preceded by what is called the Conductor’s Summer Academy (KO.NY.AK.) programme.

There will be a presentation about new horizons in inclusion. Dr Schaffhauser will give a talk about logotherapy, entitled “There is always reason/meaning: pearls from logotherapy’s development and practice”. This will be followed by “Living with movement deficiencies, dance and art therapy”.

Then at 12.30, apparently there will be some sort of a surprise before the close of the Academy's programme. I can’t wait to hear what that turns out to be. We shall be relying on you, Laci, to find out!

The first half of the day takes place at the Petö Institute's premises in Kütvölgyi út. At 13.00 there will be a nostalgic tram journey down the hill for lunch at the Villányi út premises. It is here that the conductors' meeting proper will take place, with reports from the past five years, and photo presentations and films to watch.

And of course there will be the 2009 photo call.

Breezy Balaton

As I said, unfortunately I will have to give the whole thing a miss, which means missing out on a much longed-for visit to my second home from home.

Budapest, however, will always be there and it is actually a bit too hot for me in that big city in August. Apart from that all my friends will be at Lake Balaton for the last weekend before everything there shuts down. Summer seems to end at Balaton when school begins for the autumn term.

Apart from this there is only a very limited programme on at the Opera House and concert halls in Budapest at this time of the year, making summer not the best time really to make a visit.

More information

There is still time to register for the Alma Mata. More information can be found at:

Or directly from:

I have printed the Hungarian programme below, the gist of which I hope, I have given above.
If anyone wants to know more about this, please ask.

(Konduktorok nyári akadémiája)
2009. augusztus 28. péntek

KO.NY.AK. Program
Budapest, XII. Kútvölgyi út 6.

10.00-10.15 Megnyitó -
Dr. Schaffhauser Franz, rektor

10.15-11.00 - Új horizontok az együttnevelésben -
Előadó: Kőpatakyné Mészáros Mária

11.00-11.45 -
Mindig van értelme (Gyöngyszemek a logoterápia elméletéből és gyakorlatából) -
Dr. Schaffhauser Franz

11.45-12.30 - Fogyatékkal élők mozgás-, tánc- és művészetterápiája -
Kővári Henrietta

12.30-12.45 - Meglepetés

12.45-13.00 -
KONYAK zárása - Nosztalgia villamossal utazás a Villányi útra

ALMA MATER program
Budapest, XI. Villányi út 67.

14.00-15.00 –

15.00-16.45 -
Megemlékezés, Ez történt velünk 2004 óta
Az Alma Mater Egyesület megalakítása
Fotókiállítás, Filmvetítés, Fényképezés évfolyamonkén -
Feketéné Dr.Szabó Éva, Horváth Dezsőné Dr., Dr. Túri Ibolya

16.45–17.00 -
II. Pető Alma Mater találkozó bezárása -
Dr. Schaffhauser Franz, rektor

Monday 27 July 2009

Nürnberg's November Congress

Albrecht Dürer's Haus, Nürnberg, Susie Mallett 2002

Last week I received a programme, that I was told is not the final version, for the Konduktiven Kongress to be held in Nürnberg on November 7th.

I am sorry about the delay in posting this. Last week was long and very busy, and I have only just got round to translating it. I don't get many dots on my map from German-speaking countries so I thought it would be better if I put this programme into English.

Here it is at last. Just a peep at how the preparations are progressing, I will post the final details when I have them in my hand.

A very long time ago now someone asked me whether I would talk about my work with adults at this congress, I agreed. Unfortunately there appears to no longer be a spot for this, but I am reassured that in the time given for questions from the floor I will have time to speak, if anyone asks!

I comment no further except to say I will be sure to attend the presentation about “the use of the plinth”. And I will give a full and detailed report of it here on my blog, along with any other interesting snippets.

I am thrilled to see that our integrated Kindergarten has got a spot.

Provisional programme

Conductive Pedagogy – a path to participation and integration

7th November 2009 at the Grand Hotel Meridien, Nürnberg

9.30 Opening

Dr Rehn, Chairman of the Board of the Verein für Mencshen mit Körperbehinderungen e.V.


Dr Markus Söder, State Minister (unconfirmed)


Training, Konductive Förderung and integration.
On the way to a synthesis, from the example of the school project in Rohrdorf.
Prof. Dr. Reinhard Lelgemann/Würzbürg

The foundations for the development of the brain
Prof. Dr. Günther Moll/Erlangen




Operative intervention made in order to keep and improve the movement of
children and teenagers with motor disorders
Dr. Andrea Riehmer/Nürnberg

The Meaning of the Plinth – its use and advantages
Helga Keil and Bettina Tautscher/Wein


Coffee break


Training course for ppadagogic-therapeutic- conductors ( PTK)
Motives and experiences
Beate Höss-Zenker and Gabi Sosic/München, Lisa Pitz/Würzbürg,

Daniela Hetzel/Hof

The Komet Integrated Montessori-Petö-Kindergarten
Claudia Ditthorn, Adrienn Pelikán, Dr Angela Wohlfahrt/Nürnberg


Open discussion – questions and answers
Questions, experiences, opinions from the floor


Evening meal in the hotel restaurant

In the last newsletter, sent to all members of the charity presenting this congress we were told that it will cost fifty euros to attend. As this was not stated on the provisional programme that I received I cannot be sure whether this is still the case.

But at that price it could still be something worth going to. Who knows?

We will find out on the day.

Sunday 26 July 2009

Butterfly time

Having fun!

Episode EightAdd Image

It wasn’t only Knautschi’s children who metamorphosed at the weekend.

Something happened to our children too. To all of them not just one of them.

They blossom, they matured, they grew in stature, they got really brave. They did things that they didn’t know they could do, they soared. A bit tentatively at first, like our newly emerging butterflies from their cotton-wool cocoons.

It has been such a delight to watch.

It was as if they knew, well they did know, that this was their last week together in the conductive group before they start school. Time to show their best and give their all.

Six months ago some of them cried when they came into the “Petö” group, but that has stopped and they started “running” in through the door, all set to have fun finding out what they can do.

Conductive upbringing, in the form that we know it in this group, sadly comes to an end for these littlies when they begin school this autumn. Maybe for some it could mean the end of their Conductive EDUCATION altogether as now it will no longer be paid for as part of their Kindergarten placement. Parents will now need to pay privately, which some can and others cannot do.

Two of the children are going to attend schools for children without disabilities, another is going to the local school for children with physical disabilities. One of the two assistants in the integration classes has visited us many times recently, as has one of the class teachers. Both come with a stream of questions and requests for more advice during the course of the first few months at school.

This will be my job and I am really looking forward to it. I hope that it will be something which lasts longer than the first getting-to-know-each-other period. We already hope that I will be able to go into classes in the mornings and that they will visit me in the afternoons when the children are working with me.

Back to the flutterby fun at the butterfly ball

This week the children really did show us what they were made of and we gave them lots of fun situations in which to do so.

Of course all the time Knautschi was a part of it, doing what he does best, fluttering around now and then, giving encouragement, having a joke and making us all laugh

On Tuesday the cocoons were on the table where they had spend a long weekend. There seemed to be noises coming from inside, sort of butterfly noises. This is what the children said they were. Munching butterfly noises.

We got out the new Pop-up Very Hungry Caterpillar book to find out whether it had anything to say about these noises. We discovered that it was a “butterfly making a hole to get out" sort of noise and low and behold when we looked, there under each cocoon, was a butterfly. They had slipped out of their munched-through cocoons while we were engrossed in the lovely new book.

But what disappointed looks on the children’s faces. The caterpillars were white, they didn’t even have a yellow tinge and black spots like the so called cabbage-white butterfly does. Pure white butterflies: not exactly how we imagined the brightly coloured caterpillars in the cocoons to emerge.

We soon found a remedy for that

What could we do? It was decided that we should paint them, so out came the watercolour boxes and paintbrushes, and glue and glittery paper to finish off.

You can see in the photographs what the children created when eft to their own devices.

Gorgeous butterflies, the belles of any ball.

It was very difficult for these youngsters to understand why the butterflies with their weighted wing tips flew onto their finger tips, but this didn’t matter. Once they realised that their new friends could fly on to fingers, on to fists and noses, perch on frames of glasses, ride on walking frames, sit on top of walking sticks, then the fun started.

The butterflies accompanied them to lunch, all having found a perch somewhere or other.

Catching up

We had a topsy-turvy day on Wednesday as we did what I had planned for Monday. Monday had somehow got lost in the proceedings and then I hadn’t been working in that same group on Tuesday.

Before the butterflies appeared I had planned to make muffin Knautschi caterpillars,. We made them anyway. The children had been calling out for Knautschi the caterpillar all the time so they didn’t mind his reappearance. He has been their friend for much longer than the new butterflies.

This time while we were baking we had enough mixture for them to make a Knautschi each, and also to take caterpillar cakes over to their Kindergarten friends for an after-the-fruit afternoon snack.

You should have seen the mess! Especially after the last drop of mixture had been put into the shapes, when the children knew that at last chocolaty fingers could be put into mouths.

We went through the whole procedure twice, as after the baking we then had to turn ordinary muffins into a caterpillar, also a very messy, chocolaty task.

On Thursday we had a look at everything that we had made and talked about all the things that Knautschi had done with us, and then we finished off with a free-for-all painting of our story.

How did these children change?

Of course they have changed in many ways over the past five years, as well as growing up as all children do.

Recently they have started being very eager to get to places on their own two feet, rushing off using walking sticks to be the first to have a go on the mixer, clambering over and under and walking beside plinths to try to beat the rush, rushing along benches and through rows of chairs to get a place at the table first, standing up to work in order to have a go at holding the mixing bowl or to peer inside as the eggs plopped in. All without being asked, they found their own way and didn’t take the easy option of crawling along the floor, sitting down until the bowl got stuck under their noses.

They were animated and talkative and had a lovely time.

Missing us

One little boy said very often during our work this week that he will miss us. He is one of those who probably will not be able to return to a new form of “Petö”, attending a small group after school.

Perhaps he knows this.

I think he also knows that it is not us that he will miss but the chance to succeed and reach goals that he has set, and going further and further and further. I hope that he gets the encouragement that he needs, the praise and the motivation to set and reach higher goals in his new environment without our conductive input.

I can do more than hope

I can try to arrange for visits to his school and to his home to pave the way for his continued development,

I will leave it to the charity that I work with to find out who pays.

Still time for more fun at the ball

It is not summer holiday time here, the Integrated Kindergarten goes on. The Very Hungry Caterpillar could be out and about again next week looking for some new friends.

I have more orders for paintings to adorn the walls of the numerous offices that belong to our charity, and the corridors in between.

Next week I will have the children working on huge works of art, no more A4 paper for them. They will be confronted with at least A1 format. They will learn to look at the whole “canvas” and fill the spaces in between with something as exciting as the main objects that they paint.

We will learn to paint things all over the paper to attract the wandering eye.

Many children do this spontaneously, they fill the page with colourful objects until there is room for nothing else, others stick to the strip of grass, the strip of sky, with a sun, a tree and Mummy.
Perhaps there will be space for a butterfly or two as well.


While working with the Very Hungry Caterpillar over the past few months I have also been looking him up in the Internet.

When I realised last week that this is the anniversary year of the book and also Eric Carle’s 80th birthday I looked at the official website, originally with the intention of finding out what language he wrote in. I found a delight of information, a lovely blog to read with inspiration for my own artistic work and my conductive work.

Below are a few places to read about the man who loves nature and writes about hope and brings pleasure to millions all over the world.

Hope, i'ts that word again. I knew that there was a partiular reason why I love this book and the children respond so well to it!

Incidently, when I first opened up Eric Carle’s blogpot my very first reaction, even before I began to read, was this could be my blog! As I read the feeling got stronger, it was a nice feeling of meeting a like soul in cyberspace.

Links to Eric Carle

“2009 marks the 40th birthday of Eric Carle's best-selling children's bookThe Very Hungry Caterpillar. In the author's own words the story about a caterpillar growing up into a beautiful butterfly is 'about hope.' Our plush replica is a fitting tribute to a timeless story.”
I shall be getting one. I will have a very special use for it. And it's 10% of!!


Butterfly ball -

Saturday 25 July 2009

There is none so blind as he who will not see.

"Quickly Indoors", by Nicholas Ward

Over in the comments to Andrew's blog, Andrew and Norman have had a nice civilised chat about how people just cannot see that it is Conductive EDUCATION.

I really liked the little poem from more that four hundred years ago, in old-fashioned Chaucer-style English, that Andrew quoted:

'Who is so deafe, or so blynde, as is hee,
That wilfully will nother here nor see?'

People just cannot see the EDUCATION. They just keep seeing and saying "therapy"!

No different to teaching people to draw

First you have to teach people how to look, you have to teach them to see what they see and not what they think they see.

I remember doing this once really effectively with a group of teenage boys at a secondary school for boys in Handsworth, in Birmingham.

I had asked them to draw their shoes.

You can imagine that in the 80s all those Asian boys had picked their shoes very carefully, so that they could wear fashionable black trainers with their school uniform, not the black leather brogues that their parents prefered. You would have thought that they would know what these prize possessions looked like, having chosen them with so much care and attention.

But they didn’t really.

For their first of two drawings they were not allowed to look under the desks at their shoes. They liked that game, they didn’t cheat, well not much. Not enough to make a lot of difference to the drawings.

Then I had them put one of their shoes on the table. They were not very impressed with the results of their drawings as they didn’t recognise their own much-loved shoes.

Before we started the second drawing we talked about forgetting that it was a shoe, and how to see what was really there. To look at shapes and angles and light and shade. They learnt how to use all of these to make their second drawing. They discovered that they could actually look and see something else, something that they hadn’t seen before, and that by doing so they could draw a very good presentation of their shoe.

They didn’t see the deeply imbedded image of a shoe that they had in their mind anymore. They really did see their own shoe, with all the nobbly impressions that toes had made, and scratches that playing football had made, and tatty shoe-lace ends where the aglet had fallen off. And it was this that they drew, learning to look at the shapes in between and not at the object itself.

Actually seeing "Conductive EDUCATION"

It is not only when looking at the simple phrase "Conductive Education" that people fail to see.

Even when looking at Conductive Education itself, in action, people still see what they think they see.

For observers to see properly what is in front of them takes people skilled enough to retrain their eyes, and then to make connections to whichever part of their body stores what they see, their head, their soul, their heart.

People observing Conductive Education also need to learn to look at the spaces in between that are just as important in my opinion, if not more so, than the more formal parts of the conductive programme. Just as drawing the spaces between objects helps to outline the form of an object, the spaces in between in conductive observation help define what is beginning to be learnt.

Why have so many visitors to the Petö Institute or other conductive centres gone away and set up hundreds of different types of what they thought Conductive Education to be, what they thought they saw?

Perhaps the "art teacher" was not there, the communicator, the eye-opener. Perhaps the visitors have rarely or never had it properly explained and there has been no discussion. That has been a terrible error, with terrible effects.

There should have been someone to say "Look, what they are doing at this moment is not therapy because.....," or "It would be therapy if........" or "It's education because....."

Doing this properly can take a lot of time and patience. And it needs someone who has a clear ability to communicate Conductive Education.

The educator's responsibility

If that “eye-opener” is not there to do the explaining then you can't really blame people for not seeing what is in front of their eyes. Real educators can't blame them for not seeing what they are looking at, not knowing what to look at. And not learning the importance of the bits in between.

I have experienced the need to do something about this so many times, to ask visitors to my group to refrain from chatting when they think there is a "break" in the procedures, when they see the clients walking to the toilets, going to wash their hands, walking to the table for elevenses, collecting plates and cups etc. from the kitchen. Clients doing the “bits in between”, doing what they have learnt to do, clients living and showing off their skills to the visitors.

Visitors nearly always think these are times for a coffee break, they don’t see what it really is, they need their eyes opening, their vision directed.

I always politely ask them to leave the room if they can no longer concentrate, if they feel the need for a coffee break, a chat and a breath of fresh air.

"We're all going on summer holiday"

That's how I ended my last posting a couple of days ago and with summer holidays come the summer camps.

I think that I have already made my feelings more than clear on this blog about people who run summer camps without providing anything like the help that parents often need if they are really going to see "Conductive EDUCATION". Here it is the parents who are often not being EDUCATED. Not learning what it is that is before their eyes. A bad failure for Conductive EDUCATION. Not a failure in learning but a failing in TEACHING.

Managers and conductors who fail to educate the parents, year after year, are just rubbing in the confusion about Conductive Education that already exists, deeper and deeper. No wonder so many parents sincerely go into these camps thinking that their children will get a "therapy", and having spent a lot of money come away again none the wiser.

People like to say that they have learned from the Peto Institute. Maybe they should learn from its mistakes too. Maybe start taking or providing "art lessons", educating those who show interest to see what they are looking at.


The picture heading this posting is by my first drawing teacher at art school. He is the man who taught me, in 1975, to look at the spaces in between. He taught me how to see what I was looking at and also to realise that there are many different ways in which I can represent what I really see on paper, but still make an accurate replication.

His drawing is called "Quickly Indoors", a title that relates to the name of the bike not to avoiding the bad weather. The bike is his German NSU Quickly, for which many years ago I brought home to England a suitcase full of spares. Now acquiring those spares was an adventure in itself, but that's another story!

To me this picture is about life, life in the slow lane.

My own livingroom had a bike being fixed in it at midnight on Thursday, and looked a bit like this etching. A puncture slowed me down and I had had to walk home, late, after a Fest at work. Then I spent the rest of the evening on the floor relaxing with the bike repair kit, forced again into the slow lane, my favourite place.

This is life. Just as Conductive Education/upbringing is life.

Given a good basic understanding of what Conductive Education is, then it can be provided in many different forms, and improvised upon spontaneously as in a drawing. But without this understanding the ability to see the image is blurry, and it turns into something else.

Perhaps into therapy.


Andrew Sutton -

Susie Mallett on summer camps -

Nicholas Ward -

NSU Quickly -

Just a few of the references that I found -

'Who is so deafe, or so blynde, as is hee,
That wilfully will nother here nor see?'
(Heywood, Dialogue of Proverbs, 1546)

Who is blynder than he yt wyl nat se.
(Boorde, Breviary of Helthe, 1547)

There is no manne so blynd as he that will not see, nor so dull as he that wyll not vnderstande.
(Cranmer, Answer to Gardiner, 1551)

But none so blind as he that will not see.
(Heylin, Examen Historicum, 1659)

Who so blind as he that will not see?
(Ray, English Proverbs, 1670)

Ther's none so blind
As those that will not see.
(Westminster Drollery, 1671)

You know, there's none so blind as they that won't see.
(Swift, Polite Conversation, 1738)

"None are so blind as those that won't see," whisper the wicked.
(Sala, Twice Round the Clock, 1859)

Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).
Mr. Titelman agrees that this saying has its roots in the Bible, specifically : "Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not." Jer. 5:21 (King James version)

"There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know. The proverb has been traced back in English to 1546 (John Heywood), and resembles the Biblical verse quoted (above). In 1738, it was used by Jonathan Swift in his 'Polite Conversation,' and is first attested in the United States in the 1713 Works of Thomas Chalkley..."

There's none so deaf as those who will not hear

Similar to There is none so blind as he who will not see. Cf. mid 14th-cent. Fr. Il nʾest si mavais sours que chuis chʾoër ne voeilt (There is no person so deaf as the one who does not wish to hear).

So there you have it. There's a lot of it about and it's been going for a long time now. Like a lot of things in Conductive Education!

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Cyberspace meets reality

Susie and Laci, July 2009, by Ujvari Julia

It really is quite strange, when I think about it, reading blogs and communicating through emails to all my conductive friends and acquaintances around the world.

Of course it is lovely to get to know so many people in the world of cyberspace without coming face to face with them and, unless we use Skype, never even hearing the sound of each other’s voices or knowing what the other looks like.

Meeting people and keeping in touch like this would never have been possible before even only ten years ago.

The World Wide Web was actually “invented” in 1989, in the same year that I began my conductive journey, but in those early days, even in 1993 when I moved to Germany, very few people were using it. Communication with my friends was difficult, scattered as they were from one corner of the world to another.

That has all changed so much. Whatever what would we do without it now?

My life would be far less rich than it is, that’s for sure, and because of the contacts that I make or keep through having access to the Internet that my already very busy summer will be even busier.

I shall be entertaining this summer

Yet another one of the advantages of not closing down for the summer! I shall be at home! Ready to receive the visitors who have already booked their spots.

I will be working most of the summer and people who are taking summer holidays will be passing through, dropping by to look at my groups at work, to say hello, to pick my brains in person and to see something of the beautiful city of Nürnberg.

These visitors are not all just cyberspace friends, some I have met in “reality” but I have kept in touch with them over the years through “virtual” means.

In some countries the summer holidays have begun and the first of my visitors arrived on Sunday after a very long, traffic-jam-filled journey from England.

Laci and his family

The picture above is of Szögeczki Laci and me in my flat in Nürnberg this last weekend. Laci and I have know each other for about twelve years now, I don’t really remember when we first met. He is one of the conductors whom I met in Munich at the early conductors' meetings before the German association for conductors was even formed. He worked then at Pfennigparade in Munichand I was in Nürnberg.

He is one of the first conductors who accepted me as not being different, even though I was. At that time I was the only person at these conductors' meetings who wasn’t Hungarian. I was a non-Hungarian conductor, at that time still a very rare commodity indeed!

Laci and I talked a lot even then but that was nothing to compare with how we talked last Sunday. Non-stop. We have always talked in English or Hungarian, even in the early years, never in German.

Laci and his family were travelling through Nürnberg by car, on their way to Pécs, Hungary, at the beginning of their summer break.

I would actually have loved to have travelled on with them, as Pécs is what I consider to be, after Budapest, the loveliest city in Hungary. The architecture is lovely, the colours of the buildings are lovely, soft yellows, oranges and pinks, and many are adorned with pretty balconies (erkélyek). There are beautiful theatres and churches, and interesting museums and galleries by the score, including one showing works of my favourite Hungarian artist, Csontvary.

Laci and his wife are both conductors, both working at a well established, parent-initiative conductive centre in England, where they work in a team with four other conductors.

It was interesting to discuss with them how Conductive Education or upbringing is offered in their place of work in England and in those I work in here in Germany.

It was a pleasure to invite them into my home, to show them a little bit of the area around where I live, (especially the children’s playground and the tram-lines, a great hit with their 2 1/2 year old son), and a couple of the local cafés.

It was so lovely to meet my friends, to offer them a bit of relaxation on their way from the Heart of England to southern Hungary. A stop-over on their long journey between from one of my homelands to the other, via the place where I live.

Now that Laci and family have left, my flat it is feeling a little empty. I have never had that many people in my flat at one time before! I am missing their company.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to be with them in person, to hear their voices, drink a beer or two together and chat into the early hours of the morning!

You can't do all that that in a blog posting!


Cliff Richard -
Summer holiday

Mungo Jerry -
In the Summertime


Bundesverband der in Deutschland tätigen KonduktorInnen e.V -
(Federal Association of Conductors Active in Germany)

László Szögeczki -

Pécs -

Csontvary -

Sunday 19 July 2009

12th Rock im Buni

Rocking in the BUNI, 18th July 2009

Rock für Integration

Saturday 18th July

BUNI is a social centre in the south of Nürnberg for both disabled and not-disabled people, where just about anything and everything is on offer. Activities for people to take up in their spare time, pottery, painting, table tennis, table football, judo, music-making, coffee-drinking and chatting, outings and lots of “fests”.

Yesterday was the open air “Rock im Buni”, a yearly event organised by a friend of mine and his son and the other members of the band, "Corproral Defect", in which they all play. I think that I have been at this event just about every year since it began.

The "boys" of the band have spend many hours over the past couple of days, building a very professional stage. Only the best is good enough for the half-dozen heaviest rock bands that they could find to invite from the region!

"Corproral Defect" always appears first on the printed programme but last on the actual programme so that they can relax after all the work is done. All done except of course for the dismantling of the stage on Sunday.

Yesterday it rained

Actually the heavens broke several times.

As this has been already happening for most of July precautions had been taken at the BUNI, with lots of garden pavilions erected to keep the guests and the performers dry.

With the gaps in the cloud-bursts longer in the afternoon most people actually managed to arrive with dry clothes, many like me travelling by bike, but very few stayed that way as the rain got heavier and heavier just like the music and the intervals between downpours became shorter and shorter. Even though there had been a break in the clouds when I left for home at 10.30 p.m. I didn’t get very far before I got drenched.

Wherever is all that water coming from?

No one really worried about the rain, the mixing desk just turned up the sound when the rain drops got heavier than the music.

In the relatively dry patches we danced, ate bratwurst, drank beer and rocked the night away, to the sounds of The Pop Ups, Life Unlimited, Project Katrina, The Aesthetic of Inner Terror and, last but not least, Corporal Defect.

Rocking all over the world

Music really is a universal language. There were no barriers in this Fest yesterday, we were all there for one reason, heavy rock, and of course having a good time. We were out there between showers, with hands clapping above heads, heads shaking till they nearly fell off, were jumping up and down and rocking.

Status Quo eat your hearts out!

Who put the lights out?

10p.m. and Corporal Defect at last on stage. And what happened? The water got in and the lights failed
But the engineer kept the sound going!
The Fest was a great success, despite the weather.

PS I discovered that the centre is looking for a volunteer to run its watercolour-painting classes. I am willing but, as it is an afternoon course and I am still a relatively young rocker who has to go to work in the afternoons, it is a non-starter.

The centre now knows where to call if it needs someone for weekends or for courses taking place later in the evenings when younger rockers have finished work.


BUNI Kultur und Freizeittreff -
Treffpunkt für Behinderte Und NIcht Behinderte (Meeting point for disabled and not-disabled)

Picture One -
My rocker's hat is actually my Dad's British Rail-issue fireman's hat, circa 1960.

Corporal Defect -

Status Quo, Rocking all over the World -

Saturday 18 July 2009

Quality of life

Picco, by SB, 2006

My quality of life was enhanced for many years when I was between three and twelve years old. I had my Grand-dad's cart-horse for a horsey friend, and I longed to actually sit on a “proper” horse.

Rides on the "huge" wooden cart, while shifting manure from the sheds after the Irish cattle left for market, were probably more exciting at four years old than actually having a riding lesson, but I wouldn’t know as there was never any money for such luxuries and I did not yearn for them. I loved Tom-Tom the carthorse and the rides amongst the smelly manure. More up my street really than a pony club. On the cart I was all on my own with my dreams, but nevertheless “riding lessons” were my dream. It was a lovely dream to have because I shared it with someone special.

If the holiday-money went far enough I got a ride on an old nag on the promenade at Great Yarmouth.
Sometimes I had a go on the trudging donkeys on the beach at Hunstanton. More often than not this happened on a day trip with my more well-off Grandma!

How was the quality of my life improved?

By the smell of manure and by my dreams.

And by the promise that my Uncle always gave me that, if he won the pools, he would buy a pony and I would get my riding lessons.

Each Thursday the quality of life is improved for those four children from our integrative Kindergarten who are picked on rotation out of fifteen to go riding on Friday. One disabled child and three not-disabled children.

The quality of work in both our Conductive Group and Kindergarten improves too, due to the children’s anticipation of the horsey moments.
  • It is not only the riding that they await with joy that brings quality to their lives, but also the trip in the bus and their peaceful two hours away from the rest of the noisy and boisterous group.
  • It is the time spent with Mum or Dad the evening before searching for an apple or a carrot to take in their pocket as a treat.
  • It is the joy they have when showing us all the polished apple or crispy carrot that they chose, before they hop into the early-morning bus to the stables.
  • On arrival at the stables it is the meeting of different people, the many CV's ( young men 'doing' their National Service, or rather not doing it!), always happy, friendly young people who the children adore.
  • It is the straw to romp in and fall over in, without getting hurt, it is the soft and rough horsey hair and the funny smells.
  • It is the ride in the woods, the pouring rain running down cheeks and into the corners of smiling mouths.
  • It is helping to carry heavy objects to the stables, leather saddles and harnesses and brushes and combs.
  • It is putting hands in a bag of floury oats.

I am sure that there are many more pleasures to do with riding that add to the quality of life for these children, all of these children, not only those with a physical disability.

And let us not forget...

  • The ride home together on the motorway. For many five year olds this is probably one of the best quality-of-life enhancers ever. All those bridges and exits and slip-roads and signs.
  • Not to mention the hundreds of huge foreign trucks that on a Friday are all trying to reach their destinations before the weekend driving ban.

The list could could go on, and on...

How do we measure all this? Who would want too?

It is that thing called life!

Such things are not something that happens at a particular point to be measured. It is not something that happens in isolation.

They are part of a domino effect that goes on for years. Until the day we die.

My quality of life is still enhanced by the memory of my Uncle, of our big grins, of the pools coupon in front of him and our secret dreams about the big win that never came. Dreaming of the pony that I never had and of the riding lessons that I finally got on a farm outside Budapest, at the age of thirty-five.

Now that is a lot of years of measuring and waiting to see all of the improvements in my quality of life that didn’t end there.

Those riding lessons as an adult, that came about because of my dreams as a five-year-old, enhance my life to this day. Not because of any physical improvement but through the associations that I have, the memories of who I was with and those whole mornings' activity.

The experiences that I had, and the images that are there for me to recall and use, will be there to be used for ever. They will always enhance my life and improve its quality in so many immeasurable ways.

  • The long haul in the early hours of Sunday on public transport, right across that huge city from the Buda Hills to the outskirts of Pest.
  • The rumbling tram, the smelly buses, the lovely blue underground trains.
  • The suburbs of small one-story houses with huge gardens.
  • The ride in the family Traubant
  • The peace and quiet of the countryside after a week in the busy metropolis
  • The Hungarian friend and her children for company and Sunday lunch in their home too.
  • Then the long ride home, the exhaustion and the deep sleep.

If that big pools win had come and I had got my pony and riding lessons, who knows whether our quality of life would have been improved as much as it was by our Vorfreude (anticipation).

Maybe I would never have taken those riding lessons in Hungary with all their knock-on pleasures.

Cosy moments

I have no idea whether riding is any more physically beneficial to a child with cerebral palsy than sticking the child's feet in a bucket of hot water and sage.

I believe that it is the time that another person spends, sitting and playing with the child with the feet in the sage bucket, that is the quality-of-life enhancer. Just as it is the riding lesson’s associated activities that bring most benefits to our Kindergarten children.

I too would feel "better", I too would feel more relaxed to begin my work if, after an early start to the day and the long ride to a “Petö session” I were to have twenty minutes' attention from my mum or from a conductor, and got lovely warm cosy feet in the process.

  • Horses - who needs them?
  • Plinths - who needs them?
  • Sage baths - who needs them?

Not me, not conductive upbringing. If they are a means to an end, OK lets have them, but I for one can substitute one for the other or for something else any day.

What we need is whatever it takes to have dreams, to create memories, and to increase motivation and the will to be busy. Whatever it takes to have a fulfilling life.

Whatever it takes to create a happy soul.


Andrew Sutton -

Andrew's posting inspired this posting of mine:

Picco -

The painting heading this posting was painted by one of my teenage clients with cerebral palsy. Picco is the horse that he rides, that he enters tornaments on, and also paints.

The paintings he sells in exhibitions, at which he makes opening speeches to his guests. The guests he has invited by hand-made, hand-delivered invitation cards, which means several long walks through the country-side getting to all those letter boxes. On these walks he observes and photographs things that inspire yet more paintings.

The knock-on domino effect in action.

Neighbourhood Watch!

Nürnberg, 2002

One of the dots on my map is a neighbour.

Some one else in Nürnberg appears to be reading my blog.

Last night, when I went in to take a look, it was very late. It was the first visit to my blog that I had made all day and there were two other hits from the neighbourhood, one only minutes earlier.

Nothing really odd in that, this is a big city.

But it has never happened before and it is a funny feeling. Also a nice feeling to think that maybe a colleague is reading my snippets.

Herzlich Wilkommen to my blogosphere, who ever you may be.

Thursday 16 July 2009

Metamorphosing over the weekend

Knautschi and Co., July 2009

Episode 7

It began as the adventures of Knautschi and Co. but it is now becoming a Hungry Caterpillar look-a-like story!

The children got so carried away feeding the caterpillars with everything under the sun. They fed their caterpillars all sorts of odd things that they found in the toy food box, so we ended up singing the hungry caterpillar song, about his getting tummy ache from eating sausages and lollies, gateaux and muffins, all week long.

Of course at some time during the week we have had to make bigger caterpillars, as with all that food they simply would not stop growing. Until today that is.

Now the feeding and the growing has come to an end.

Today the caterpillars made their cocoons

Actually we decided that, because the caterpillars are made out of cardboard. we might have to help with the cocoon-building. Today, since we used cotton wool, the cocoons are white ones, like silk-moths make. The children pulled off wads and stuck them all over their caterpillar.

At first it was difficult for the children to let their caterpillars disappear, as they have got to like them over the week, but they told me they were brave, some even brave enough to cover up their caterpillar’s face!

The caterpillars will now have the weekend to do whatever they have to do to metamorphose and appear next week as butterflies. I have the weekend too, to do what ever I have to do so, that they can appear as butterflies.

We had a really jolly arty-crafty thirty minutes today. At first talking about and then looking at the caterpillar and cocoon in Eric Carle’s book, then deciding whether any one wants their cocoon to be brown like the one in his bookIf so, then we will get the paints out on Monday. We were unsure whether our caterpillars would have enough time to work their magic inside the cocoon but decided that if the weekend is warm and sunny then it should be long enough. We only have four more days with this group so we are taking the liberty of speeding up the two-week process of change inside the cocoon so that it all happens over the weekend.

Preparing-for-Monday Thursday

As I have visitors on Sunday I shall be preparing for Monday this evening.

At work I found the recent copy of Das Band. This is a quarterly magazine produced by the Bundesverbandes für körper- und mehrfachbehinderte Menschen e.V. It is full of articles about families, politics and events, has many adverts and sometimes book reviews.

It was here in this magazine that I read at lunchtime today about the fortieth anniversary of the Very Hungry Caterpillar, and of the new pop-up version that has been published to celebrate this anniversaryalong with Eric Carle’s eightieth birthday.

On the way back home this evening from today’s second place of work, I discovered a tiny bookshop not too far from my flat, I parked my bike, popped inside and low and behold there was the very pop-up-bookup there on the shelf.

It is now in my bag ready for work on Monday.

I have just spend a relaxing hour on the balcony snipping and painting. I was preparing a painted example and blank butterfly forms to be beautified by the children. That is also now all in my bag ready for more hours of fun next week.

PS I nearly forgot. There was another episode on Tuesday. We did some baking and made some bread Knautschis. Now that was fun! It tasted good too.


Pop-up Very Hungry Caterpillar

Das Band, 2009/3 page 30
Ratgeber by Ursula Abels