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Tuesday 22 December 2009

Hands off

"Kevin and Andi in the making"
One of my pet subjects

I am forever telling them in the Kindergarten: 'Let go but be ready to catch!'

The trouble is that often once people let go they start being distracted. They are not there with their heads full of questions about what the child is doing and what the child's next step forward might be, they are not there observing but not touching. Instead they start chatting to the mum beside them or thinking about the evening meal. Then Bang! The child falls on its head. So the next time the child is held tight because last time it didn’t go well, the child was not able to do it alone, so this time many more hands are needed.

I have seen it all and it drives me mad.

"Eyes on" should be the sentence, not “Hands on”

'Hands off' doesn't mean 'Mind off, and on to other thoughts'.

It means 'Hands off, eyes on'. Hands at the ready, for a sense of security and in case of emergency! Eyes at the ready to know when this moment is.'

Just yesterday afternoon I was begging the parents of young children to take their hands off their children. Even as they helped to do up the coats there were too many hands, touching too many parts of too many children's bodies.

As I asked for the children to be allowed to stand on their own two feet, I too thought of Doktornö, (Dr Mária Hári). I am often reminded of her words about good conductors touching children as little as possible, as I encourage mums, dads, teachers, grandmas and granddads to take a step back to give everyone space, to discover what can be achieved using the "hands off, eyes on" method.

Auch in Deutsch?

I am about to take a look to find out if there is a German equivalent of this phrase. It doesn't come to mind immediately. I imagine that the English version has been taken over and is used in the fashionable Neu-deutsch language, leading to even more confusion.

"New Deutsch", the use of English words and phrases in German sentences is incredibly difficult to understand, especially for English speakers. So if "hands on" has crept into the German Conductive Education literature then it will be not only misleading but totally incomprehensible.

And in the language of images

It is not only in the written word that the "hands on" approach is advocated in Conductive Education. Even if conductors do not express it verbally, it is all too often demonstrated in the images that are shown to the public.

Take a look at some them.

You will soon find some showing children lying on the floor, as safe as houses, with nowhere to fall, but nevertheless with an adult very close beside with a tight grip somewhere on the child's body.

I know from experience that this often is not the conductors' fault. It is usually someone else who puts together the flyer, without consulting us before it goes to press about the images to be used.
We need to be more careful, and insist on vetting how our work is represented.


The posting was inspired by a posting by Andrew Sutton. Most of it appeared on his blog as a comment last Saturday but I expanded it just a little bit to post here.

Dr Mária Hári - The good conductor does not touch the child.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

What a great article! I really appreciate what you were saying about letting go, watching and being prepared to catch. Letting go is hard, I still struggle with it everyday. Holding on is equated with safety, in my own mind, and in the minds of those who have assisted me in my learning; the reality is that it is a hindrance to my progress.

I will be writing on the topic of 'hands on' for my first blog post.

Do you have a source for the Hári quote?