Sunday, 23 August 2009

Lean, stern, Spartan resources

Dr H and HRH, Petö Institute, 1992

Andrew Sutton has left a comment and a question on the posting immediately below this one. I attempted to answer the comment in the comments spot but I failed in my attempt. I probably failed because it is very late and I should be in bed, and because my comment got very long.

I have posted my response to his comment here instead. The much shorter answer to his question is on the same "Quality" posting below.

Andrew, in response to your comment:

The "lean, stern, Spartan principle" that you mention is all part and parcel of the planning for any specific group. The level of sparseness of resources changes, just as everything else in the group, is endlessly changing. We know who can do what, and when and who needs assistance, "how and when".

The resources, the number of conductors in the group is, or if it isn't it certainly should be, planned.

The "how and when" are planned, just like the placing of chairs, the preparing of games, the setting of table etc. are planned.

This management of resources was part of my training and was still evident to me at the Petö Institute on recent visits. There at least it is still a practiced pedagogic tool even if, as you suggest, it is not necessarily preached.

In my student days, on many occasions a group would suddenly become full to overflowing with students. Perhaps lectures were cancelled or there was a change-over of shifts. Whatever the reason always without fail, a fast re-shuffle took place.

For example, a fourth-year student released a conductor to go to catch up on paper work in the office, a third-year student moved in to replace the fourth-year student's position, and the rest of the students divided themselves into two groups. The members of one group grabbed themselves a plinth, a chair or a wall bar and participated, the others pulled up chairs to observe.

This was a brilliant way to learn.

Having a conductor moving my limbs was an invaluable part of my learning. I felt the exact point of pressure and the amount applied.

Periods set aside for observing from afar without having to facilitate are still some of the most profitable, the most exciting and most interesting times in my work.

It really is impossible to work with too many people in a group, especially when leading the group. The clients find it confusing and for the leading conductor it is virtually impossible to observe what a client can do, or not do, when there is always someone giving hands-on help.

It is essential that for every group a conductor knows when to ask assisting conductors to sit down, to take a step away, or to leave the room completely to return later.

It is so important to feel confident enough to do this when working with assistants and other non-conductors, who may not have same the feel for when to step forwards and when not to that fellow conductors should have.

That is also why it is important to plan it in advance. It does not then come as a shock when asked to leave.

Of course the principle of never having quite enough resources should be planned and built in. but that doesn't mean that the resources should not be there waiting in the wings.

A daily routine in a group is a well-scripted performance, right down to the last second of every hour. This means that we know when we cue the next conductor on to the “stage”. It also means that we are prepared for every eventuality, and have the opportunity to be creative and spontaneous and call our extra hands in when possible.
Many a time I have got on to a plinth and worked along-side the teenagers, who love it. Or gone into the next room to prepare for craft sessions. Always at the ready, poised for action at the pre-planned point, also of course spontaneously.
And now...

On several occasions I have been called in when the air-ambulance helicopter has landed in the adjacent field and we need all hands on deck to walk to the windows to watch the adventure.

Sometimes I spend a few spare minutes looking at sites in the Internet featuring "CE" films or photos. I often wonder what is actually going on. I ask myself whether it is really showing Conductive Education whenever I see that there is an adult beside each child, hanging on to some part of that child's body.

This is certainly not what "The Doctor " (Mária Hári) was ordering with her lean, stern, Spartan principle.




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