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Friday 11 June 2010

Research, or spam?

The Empire State Building, by Susie Mallett, 5th June 2010,
(somethining else that I made when I could have been writing!)

From the Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus, 1996


1a. the systematic investigation into and study of materials, sources, etc., in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.

b. an endeavour to discover new or collate old facts, etc., by the scientific study of a subject or by a course of critical investigation.

Research and development – work directed toward the innovation, introduction, and improvement of products and processes.

It must be about a year now since I used a friend’s most-probably-jinxed computer to access my emails. Before that occasion I was not really aware of the purpose of the Spam inbox. Now it is nearly always inundated. There are usually a dozenaday to delete. I always check to see whether a new contact has been thrown in there by mistake before I press the gone-forever button. It is part of my daily routine!

I was going through this process yesterday when accidentally I clicked on one mail that was not addressed to me personally and was from an address that I did not recognise. That is usually a sure bet for being thrown away immediately, without even a glance. This one had slipped through the net, I wonder why.

As it was open I read it and I was left wondering whether it really was junk mail. Or was it a joke or a genuine article? I am still none the wiser. I have not discovered whether anyone else I know in the conductive world has received the same mail so I am still tending towards believing that yes, it is spam, or maybe even another potential virus in my computer.

Here is the mail in question:


my name is …….. and I am a Masters’ student at ……. University of………, UK.

Working on a school project I am doing research on conductive education and my focus is CE furniture;

your help would be greatly appreciated. If you are interested in helping me, please let me know.

Thank you,


A joke, or what?

In my immediate spontaneous email that I sent to some people I know, asking whether they too had received it, I wrote: ”Is this a joke? Doing a Master’s on CE furniture, whatever is the world coming too!”

As yet no one has responded positively that they have also received this mail.

The mail is supposedly from a master’s student at a British university asking for my assistance. It seemed to me such an odd way for an educated person to approach someone for help that I still thought this must be spam.

There was No “Dear Miss Mallett”, or “Dear Susie Mallett”, or introductions of any kind, just a “Hello”. The correspondent did write a name at the end and I presume that it was a name in the email address.

Over the years I have received many requests from university students asking for help with papers that they are writing, and for information about conductive education,. Mostly they come from Germany but also from abroad. The students always introduce themselves, then they tell me that they have either been given my name by their tutors, or discovered it on the Internet or through a centre that provides conductive education. They have always made sure that ther email has a title, to ensure that it does not get thrown out with the spam. It appears to be important to them that they get through to me. In this case I do not get this feeling.

I am more than willing to help these students if I can and much information has been exchanged over the years during telephone calls and email correspondence.

If this mail from yesterday is not genuine and not spam, then could it be a joke? Perhaps someone has read about what I think about the “Petö Furniture Principle” and is pulling my leg? There are quite a few examples on my blog of what I think about furniture of different kinds:

Pull the other one

Reconsidering this idea I do not believe that there is anybody who I know who would play this joke without giving me a clue to their identity, so I could have a laugh with them over it.

No, I have dismissed my idea that it is a joke and at the moment I am still tending towards its being spam.

But wait a minute, I ask myself: “What if this is true? What if someone genuinely wants my help in doing some research in CE furniture?”. There is also a niggle in the back of my mind that I have read somewhere else about someone’s doing research into CE furniture.

What if this really is what is happening to CE in UK and perhaps elsewhere in the world? What if this is what “research in CE” really is investigating, the wooden furniture. Is this what is going on in the places where the academics are, those people who could be doing the research that some conductivists are crying out for?

Perhaps I had better hold on for a bit longer to the idea that this could be for real. Not a joke, not spam, not something for the junk-mail bin but something that is actually potentially more dangerous than the viruses that my spam in-box tries its hardest to protect my machine against.

Surely someone doing any kind of research into any aspect of CE will have got to grips with the subject first. My first question is: How can anyone who knows anything about CE go on to research an aspect that is actually a myth? There is no “CE furniture”, you use what you have available to live a conductive life, you can use what you have available to give a conductive education.

Furniture in itself can be neither “conductive” nor “educational”, it is just bits and pieces used for a purpose within a conductive lifestyle. It is the lifestyle that is conductive and educational, not the inanimate objects!

Bringing together and making shift

Andrew Sutton recently defined the word conducere on his blog, plumping for this definition to bring together, collect, assemble, to unite, join, to connect, to cause to contract or close up”. I can not see how any of this can relate to a piece of furniture and make it conductive or educational!

In my room today I had two ladders, some steps, some metal walking bars, some non-slip foot-prints that my stroke group made, some four-point sticks, some mini-traffic-cones, a set of skittles, a globe, a carpet, two long and very heavy benches (great for doing lots with, including sliding down), an assortment of stools in all shapes and sizes, (the most practical being the Heidelberg ones, as they have non-slip feet and come in many sizes). I have to admit there were also three adult-size plinths incorporated into this make-shift adventure playground.

This is not “CE furniture”, it is what I had available, that I thought would be useful in achieving what we wanted to learn.

It is all the kind of stuff that you will find in any kindergarten or infant school. What I do with it is “conductive” but I can do what I want with something else too if I wish.

The only extra furniture that I really needed today, in the 32-degree midday sun, was a swimming pool. If the weather stays as warm next week one of the parents, who lives opposite the centre has offered us the use of one!

So what to do with a suspicious email?

If that email is genuine then I sincerely hope that I have not offended anyone with this posting. If it is genuine I am as always willing to assist on any project and pass on information.

I am still tending, however, towards its having landed originally in the correct box and is indeed spam.

I think this is because I just do not want to believe that this is what is going on in the academic/research-world of conductive education.


Andrew Sutton said...

Thanks for alerting us all to this off email. I do hope that others will check their spam boxes and decide their own responses.

Meanwhile, thank you too for your characteristically 'real' accounting of the realities of conductive life and practice. I have approached it from a different angle at:

By the way, sometimes the symbolism of your heading illustrations is very clear – and sometimes less so. It is a lovely picture but all I could spot was a possible l'Allemagne joue le Joker – except I couldn't see much sign of l'Allemagne!

Laszlo said...

Hi Susie, I agree all with your thoughts and at the same time I understand where that master's student is comming from...

Plinths and ladder-back chairs were not very much used before CE for any education or rehabilitation sets so, of course, people releting those to CE.

Research on those? Well, nowadays everything can be questioned either scientificly or ordenary ways?

I think, if a research comes to a proved point that "CE equipment" better facilitate some of the teaching, developing process of anything, for example teaching a child how to stand up, then it make sense to do it. I have seen much more ordenary things to be questiond in some PhD works.

How this research result will change the world? is an other question. Possibly, it would be better to see CE being recognised first.
My best Laci

Freddy said...

That was an interesting post. My spam mail mostly consists of Viagra sellings to "Dear Mr" (and then comes my e-mail-address), even though I am (at least biologically) a woman. However, everybody is offered Viagra every so often - CE furniture is, on the other hand, a much too specific question for common spam mails according to my opinion. Unless some kind of blue-streak programme scanned things you wrote on the internet and took over frequent words. (I get the weirdest offers for Cerebral Palsy and Autism treatments now on myspace ever since I posted in my profile there that I have those disabilities. Plus, I get invitations to date Baltic ladies (!) because I mentionned I work on a cultural cooperation project between the Nordic and Baltic states.) However, I think university research on CE can help CE to get the desired official recognition that the poster above me talked about, and therefore deserves attention. If I were you I would contact the university the sender of the e-mail mentionned and ask if the person and the research are known to the university. I am at the Gender Studies department of the University of Iceland and therefore in an Equal-Rights committee, and a recent issue was the involuntary (!)spam distribution (of pornographic material as far as I understand) through a university server. So the university might actually be glad about the notification so it can block the mail if it really is spam.
Myself I did not know that the existence of CE furniture was a myth. I never have seen the chairs with the ladder-like thing on top in any other context. I'm doing like you said, just using what I have in my house for my daily exercises - but I could imagine that people who do not know a lot about CE see the chairs as sort of a trademark and also reduce CE "equipment" to those chairs. I liked how you reflected the request with explanatory links in your blog post so I hope that if the mail sender was a real person he or she will come back to the blog.