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Friday 23 July 2010

"How to ignite children's enthusiasm"

"Sparks in the glowing embers"
by Susie Mallett, July 2010

Long, hot days and occasionally a rainy night that means sleep is easier.

I woke from such a night to discover that Google Alert had been incredibly active in the early hours and amongst the offerings I found this:

It is something a bit different to the usual CE Google Alert offerings about centres and blog postings.

This is a really interesting descriptions of conductive upbringing. It took a couple of readings, standing at a distance to take in everything that I could gather from the side lines, to understand what was being said.

But in the end I thought that in front of me was sometthing for parents all over the world. It appears to me like a combination of what I heard Dr Mária Hári saying many times and what I have read in Mararenko's writings.
The more I think about it the more I realise that reading this article really was very much like listening to Mária Hári. I needed to call on all my resources, previous knowledge and experience to really understand it, just like in a Dr Hári lecture! But on the other hand it had asimplicity about it, it had the natural, common sence feel about it of Makarenko and his work.

I like it.

It is a bit of a mystery as to where this article originates.


It does not really matter where it comes from, what does matter is where it goes. It matters if others read it and understand it. Perhaps it exists somewhere in an original language.

I hope it gets read and the readers begin to ask questions and wonder what this lifestyle is that is being described here and try to find out more.

Has anyone any clues?


Andrew said...

I got this one too and indeed I have already posted my own thoughts on it.

Partly these thoughts are negative as looking at the overall blog from which it comes it does look that it was published in this form as some sort new (to me)of machine-translated junk. On the other hand, in terms of the possible original text of this particular example, I did think that it 'just might be sensible and interesting':

I did what you describe, standing back mentally, ignoring individual words, even whole phrases and sentences, and just let their sound slide over me like when listening to a half-understood language. And yes, I was hearing from someone (not the blogger) with an understanding that I recognise, in fact a better understanding than many I have heard or read over the years in far more standard English.

Or was I? Was I rather projecting on to the text what I already knew, and hearing what I expected to hear – like it is easy to do when desperately trying to understand a half-understood language? I could not answer this from my subjective understanding. Your thinking the same about it is a sot of triangulation – but maybe of the process rather than the content!

You example of Mária Hári is instructive, and can again be argued both ways. Is the sense in the original or in the ear of the beholder.

I suppose that most people won't bother with this. That's understandable but I should love to see a better translation. I would love to know where the original came from? My guess is that it is in Chinese. This is based solely upon the few words that the translation-machine skipped: they look rather like Chinese words run together – which shows how much I know.

Why do I want to know more? Because, if I am not simply reading my own thoughts back from this otherwise impenetrable text, then out there somewhere is someone who understands, a blooming-unseen village Hampden.

Mix of Mária Hári and Anton Makarenko, or from some alternative or indigenous spring, I would like to know what – if anything – is going on.

Susie Mallett said...

Andrew, since reading your new comment on your own posting on the subject I have added a pinch of Dina to the mix.

Thanks to you and Ivan for solving the language mystery but where does it come from?

Does anyone know who it is, writing in Mandarin, who understands?


Andrew said...

Thank you for mentioning Karóly and Magda Ákos in this context.

This gives me opportunity to say, again what a privilege it was to have known them,. thoroughgoing representatives of the intelligentsia of Hungary of its time. Such a terrible shame that , though they lived in Vörös Hadsereg útja only a mile way from the PAI spanking new HQ in
Kútvölgyi út (which they never visited).
they were effectively excluded from the Conductive Education in Hungary: another terrible example of the what-might-have-beens of Conductive Education.

As for their book Dina, there's another strange story. Gabi Haug published the original German manuscript, in Germany, through the tiny poetry publishing house of Alabanda Verlag. It did not sell. It appears in German language bibliographies but the effects upon practice have been negligible, and Gabi's attempt to establish the parental self-help network that the Ákoses had advocated are now lost in the mists of history.

I published an English translation through the Foundation for Conductive Education and that did not sell either. This was long before the days of print-on-demand publishing and, if I recall, we were left with some seven or eight hundred copies on our hands, Gill Maguire and I tried to push the book over the years that followed but sales were at best only a tiny trickle. The Foundation lost quite a bit of money over this adventure and the Ákoses never made a penny from their efforts. There is no apparent sign of its existence in present-day CE in any of the English-speaking countries.

Gabi and I could conclude that the image (the icon) of Conductive Education, in which it was projected as some amazing things that conductors did to children on parents' behalf, was just too beguiling. In social-policy terms, the image of 'institutional Conductive Education' as the Ákoses called it – in contrast to parental Conductive Education, has proved a disaster. Its 'solution' to the Conducive Education's availability problem is self-evidently unattainable: all that is needed is more – and more – and more conductors and centres/programs for them to work in.. The Ákoses' sterner vision, of something that is primarily the responsibility of parents themselves, may be more attainable in theory but ultimately could not compete..

The English translation of Dina was also published in Chinese translation, by what is now SAHK, but does not appear to have penetrated the Chinese CE culture. There was also a Russian translation, produced in Moscow by the publishing house Uliss. I have found no trace of Uliss for some years now. I wonder what happened to the copies that it had printed – pulped, or mouldering in some warehouse? I have certainly see little sign of the book's existence or influence in Russian-language Cyberspace.

There was never a translation into Hungarian and I suspect that most Hungarian-trained conductors will not have heard of it. In Hungry, as elsewhere, the Ákoses' names seem to have been effectively struck from the cartouches!

Potentially one of most influential and important books in Conductive Education has vanished almost without trace. Talk about lost chances and what-might-have been!

Yes, thank you for helping bring them their due.