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Saturday 22 August 2009

Quality should always come first

In these days of cut-backs everywhere, conductive services are no exception. The centre where I often work in Germany once had eight full-time conductors. We are now down to one full-time and two extras. One extra is a mum conductor with ten hours' work a week and the other extra is me. I do as many hours as I have time for and sometimes more, however I wish to organise it.

In the Kindergarten and the Tagesstätte (after-school) groups I work with these two colleagues, but now unfortunately I have to run my adults groups' and the school group alone.

The quality of the work must stay the same, otherwise I would eventually loose my clients. The quality of the work can do nothing else but stay the same, because I am still the one doing the work.

The quality of my work is the last thing that I shall change. There are many other things that could change, all for the better, but not the quality. To reduce the quality of what I do would be detrimental for me on a personal level, as well as for my business.

I would never be able go home at night with the wonderful feeling that I have the most delightful and fulfilling job in the world, if the quality were not what I am used to giving. My clients would be dissatisfied with second best from me and I would soon be out of business.

So what can change so that I can do some of the work on my own.

The biggest change I have seen, one that took place without any persuasion from me, is that all my clients have actually progressed during these early stages of the “cutbacks”, incredibly fast. They have all realised, children and adults alike, that they can do a lot more than they thought they could. When there is no one there to assistthem for a second or two longer than before, then they often get the urge to give it a go themselves.

The men in the stroke group have taken to moving the plinths and chairs around for me, especially at the end of a long block. This is the work that the "CV" ( national service young man) always did in the past. We don’t have one at the moment.

My clients are so determined to show me that we can work through this together. They have known me for many years and want to continue attending the groups. They attempt many things that they would not have dared do before. I suppose that, as well as inspired to be independent in their own lives , they are also motivated by a wish to please and to help me.

In the children’s groups I have seen how a child can be so eager to get to the cooking table or to a specific game that he has literally got up and because no one was beside him at that moment has gone off under his own steam.

I have changed

I move a lot faster, my reactions have speeded up, I have a hundred and one more ideas in my head to be spontaneous, and I have stopped being over attentive to my clients, giving them a lot more space, which they seem to enjoy.

There are many things that I can consciously change, sometime it is as simple as the layout of the room, swapping two parts of the programme, or giving the group “jobs” as part of their individual programme. A great deal of the tidying up in the group can be incorporated into daily routine, as it is in the Waldorf Kindergartens. I always did this to a certain degree but now it is a permanent feature at several points of our day.

As yet there have been few changes and most of those that I have made are more in my way of thinking than in reducing anything. Not only does the quality remain but at the moment also the quantity.

When it comes to the crunch

The Credit Crunch hasn’t beaten us yet. And as Andrew’s Sutton recent blog pointed out the credit crunch can have a positive influence on our work. Sorting out of the chaff from the wheat, not in the sense that people leave but in the sense that perhaps you have to change your ways, think about what you do more critically.

As yet the only influences that I have seen in the situations I find myself in have been positive ones. The atmosphere is what I imagine it to be in a big crisis, at time of war, of flood, or famine, a real supportive atmosphere.

In our work it should never be a case of “never mind the quality feel the width”. What we offer and give our clients, in these days of cyberspace, could possibly be on show to the whole world. We should be presenting conductive pedagogy only at its best, in whatever form we can at the time.


Andrew said...

A comment and a question.

1. Maria Hari often used to speak of the need never quite to have enough resources. This was was a lean, ster, Spartan principle, one that I have not heard spoken of since she died, since when 'not enough resources' seems to be discussed more a problem than as a pedagogic tool.

It is interesting to speculate about the theoretical basis for such an important pedagogical principle. This really ought to be brought out into the open (thanks for doing it here and now) and thrashed out more thoroughly.

It evokes in me a sort of management or service-level dimeequivalnt of the the zone of next development, corresponding directly to the pedagogic principle of always looking how help given to learning, what you conductors call facilitation, might be diminished (qualitatively and quantitatively), then further diminished, as learning is achieved.

As such, at the institutional level, then, should not the principle of never-quite-having-enough-resources be planned and built in (that's how, I think, Maria favoured it), rather than being thrust upon one, unprepared for, for reasons of economic shortage?

How does that sound to you, as a conductor?

2. More interestinly, what does the birthday cake signify at the top of this posting. I count sixteen candles. Am I missing something very obvious?

Happy Something-or-other, anyway!


Susie Mallett said...

I tried to respond to your comment here but it got too long. You will now find it on my blog:

My answer to your question is below.

The cake with 16 candles was my fiftieth-birthday cake! Don’t ask me why 16 candles, I have absolutely no idea, I was just happy that somebody thought to bake me a cake so I didn’t ask!

It was the only celebratory picture I could find at the spur of the moment. Perhaps a photo of a lovely bottle of French red wine would have been more appropriate for a silent toast.

Why the toast? Because I realised that I had just written my three-hundredth posting on my blog and I was giving myself a silent pat on the back.

I thought that the writing of three-hundred postings in just one year and four months was quite an achievement and something worth celebrating, hence the cake.

Thanks for asking.


Gillian Maguire said...

Three hundred blogs is an amazing achievemnt in such a short time, Susie. All have been interesting and informative too, also an achievement. Well done and keep it up!