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Friday 3 July 2009

The Mystery of the Petö Proverbs

"András Petö", Budapest, March 2008

I have been asked: "What are Petö's Proverbs?"

I didn’t know about "Petö Proverbs" myself until recently. I discovered their existance when I was re-reading one of the early copies of The Conductor magazine that was published by the Foundation for Conductive Education in its early years.

Petö’s Proverbs was mentioned there by Gill Maguire as being one of the items in the, at that time, quite small but fast-growing, library.

“Petö’s Proverbs” is said a bit tongue in cheek because no one knows what Petö actually said, apart from the people he actually said it to. It is now over forty years since his death. How can we know what people’s memories do?

Petö published hardly anything and his archive (now in the Hári Memorial Library) has still to be properly examined.

The Petö Proverbs that I have are something that Ester Cotton compiled in 1969, two years after Petö’s death. There is quite a mystery about this collection as I believe there is another version in the Foundation Library attributed to James House, that I have never seen.

It could be that Petö wrote to Ester Cotton, it could be that he spoke to her during her visits to the Petö Institute, but as there are no records the source could be neither of these.


Gillian Maguire said...

I don't think authorship of either has been definitely established.The two versions are practically identical but it may be impossible to check this at the moment. Just before I left the Library I was in the process of doing a stock check (left unfinished, unfortunately), and one version had gone missing. It may have turned up by now, but in my experience items that 'disappear' like that rarely do. Shame.

Judit Szathmáry said...

Dear Susie,

I have Ester’s list somewhere. I could dig it out for you, but I have to tell you that I have piles of materials stocked away so it might take some time to find it.
In the early hours of this morning I went to the centre and looked for the answer to your quest with no success, but I am glad that you found it now.
I also believe that the Hornsey Centre in London (they changed their name to something else) has had one and the Jokey Club’s Conductive Learning Centre in Hong Kong has had a copy also.

When I was reading your post about this I thought it might be a good idea to start making some sense of all of the materials hanging around we both have in English and Hungarian and start putting them together for publishing.
What do you think?

Susie Mallett said...

Gill and Judit,

Thank you for your comments and interest.

Judit, I have a copy of Ester's "proverbs" and I have written today to the Mária Hári Memorial Library enquiring if they have the other version or anything else in German on this subject. I am excited about the reply I might receive!

A good idea of yours Judit to start making some sense of our store of materials, mine is actually hanging around in Hungarian, English and German!

Maybe Gill can point us in the right direction as how to begin such a job.

...and we still haven't found Kasey's quote!

Andrew said...

Susie, Gill, Judit and Kasey,

I have written a rather long comment to post here in response to what you have been discussing.

I am afraid that it is too long to fit into a Comments box like this so I will post it on Condcutive World instead.

Technical problems mean that I cannot do this till tomorrow. Watch out for it there.

Susie Mallett said...


If you are having technical problems posting your comment I am quite happy to post it for you either in the comments or on my actual blog.

Where ever it appears I look forward to reading it.


Rony Schenker, OTR, PhD, Tsad Kadima, Israel said...

Hi Susie, I thing that the recent publication of Anita Tatlow (Tatlow 2005)includes citations from what may be considered as Peto's proverbs. Are you familiar with this book?

Susie Mallett said...

Thank you Rony,

Yes, I have this book but it is at work.

I received an email this morning from Taale Schröder who is a recent graduate from NICE and she thinks that the quote that Kasey is looking for is in the very same book.

I was tempted this morning to cycle the 12 kilometres to fetch it, but with 30 degrees and thunder storms I decided that Monday will be soon enough.

Unless of course someone else comes up with the answer before then.


Gillian Maguire said...

Please see my current posting at for my response to Judit and Susie's comments re personal collections as its too long to post here.