My visitors today

Wednesday 30 March 2011


"1959 on my first bike that I loved. It was blue and red. With Big- Sis of course"

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”

I have been afraid to get on my bike. I put it away in the cellar in November 2010 and although I brought it out again two or three weeks ago I had still not ridden it. It remained locked up in the courtyard beneath my balcony.

What was I afraid of?

It was very cold still and I was full of aches and pains, so was I afraid of catching a chill? No, I do not think so. I have been healthy all winter while the children at work, and the staff, have been dropping like flies.

I have been extremely tired for months. A medical problem that has been sorted now was the fault of the tiredness so perhaps I was afraid that I may not concentrate and this would cause me to fall off. But I do not think that this fear would be enough to stop me riding my lovely bike.

I think that Franklin D. Roosevelt was right

Although I really have been afraid to jump on to my bike again this spring, with four long months being the longest that I have ever had for my winter break, it was this fear that I was afraid of most.

I do not really know why I was afraid to start cycling again but I had this strange feeling of not wanting to. I was so unsure of whether my body would have the energy to cope with the cold and the twenty kilometres-a-day round-trip but mostly I was full of fear.

I am unused to these feelings because I love my bike and I love to ride it. I love meeting the rabbits and the moles, the dragonflies and the horses – not to mention the fellow-cyclists who I know well enough to wave to. I love to notice how many traffic lights out of the ten that I ride through are on green and how many minutes that saves me on my journey.

I really like not having to wait for trams and I love breathing the fresh air instead of sitting in a hot steamy bus.

Despite loving all of this, and with part of me longing to be cycling again, I had a sense of foreboding. I just did not wish to ride and the actual fact that I had this fear was worrying me. I wondered too how long it would last but decided that it was all right for me to keep buying a monthly bus-pass until the moment came that my fear left me. I was determined not to feel guilty as well as afraid!

I notice sometimes the same thing happening with our clients, children and adults alike. They learn something and they enjoy doing it for a long time but suddenly not any more. I have usually thought that their will and the motivation have vanished - but why? Had it not been like this for me too with my bike? Perhaps our clients too are afraid for some reason and then become as I did afraid of being afraid.

Conquering fear – by action

I still do not know what I was really afraid of but I do know that the more I became afraid the more I worried about having this fear. Until that is on Monday morning, when I got up, got dressed in all the gear that I found in its usual place ready and waiting for me, and I hopped on the bike.

My motivation returned and I was off like a rocket!

All but two of the ten traffic lights were on green, which gave me a flying start to my cycling season.

It was good cycling weather and got better for the return trip when the sun with some warmth in it, even though it was late evening, accompanied me to my door.

I have no idea what re-motivated me at last to cycle to work again at last but now that I have broken that barrier of fear there is no stopping me, although this evening after a twelve-hour day both Évi and I hopped on the bus for a short part of the journey home, she with her roller blades and me with the bike. It was not through fear or laziness that we hopped on the passing bus, we were just exhausted.

Tomorrow I will be out there again with the rabbits and the moles, the planes and the pheasants, and much more besides, all of which I have described here before:

Having just re-read this posting that I wrote eighteen months ago I cannot believe that my bike stayed in the dark cellar for so many months. There is enough in that story to motivate me to keep on pedalling, at least until the next snow starts falling.


“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” -

Franklin D. Roosevelt 1932, in his first Inaugural Address.

A Lions’ breakfast

What would we do without the Lions Club and other similar fund-raising societies and clubs?

Here is quite a good explanation of why money is being collected for conduction:


International Lions Club-

Sunday 27 March 2011

Bringing body and soul into balance

"Shrimps on sale in Hong Kong"

As one does on a Sunday morning after the clocks spring forward

Those lazy hours of adjustment

I was having a look at the site meter on my blog while drinking my first cup of tea of the day. I had just been explaining to a friend in an email that getting Skype started up on a computer is not as difficult as one imagines and, if I can do it so can she as she is a wizard at other things on the computer.

A taste of my own medicine

Having tried to convince my friend of how clever she can be on the computer and also receiving some advice for my own computering troubles, I thought I should be brave myself.

Perhaps, I thought, I am just about clever enough to discover what the site meter on my blog can really do. I did not really understand it at all before, too many graphs and numbers for my artistic mind to deal with, or so I thought. I have not investigated it very much since I had it through fear of getting even more confused than computers usually make me.

Interests of the day: furniture, tinsel and clothes for conductors

I discovered that I can find out where my visitors came from, and which link they used to get to my blog. It was not surprising that many of yesterday’s visitors came from Andrew Sutton’s Facebook page. There were, I think, others from direct links from other sites including Conductive Post and personal blogs, but many visits are accidental hits from people who are "googling".

One hit came from someone searching “Pikler” and came across my posting on Dr Pikler, a paediatrician who was commissioned in 1946 by the City of Budapest to organise a home for young orphaned children:

Another hit was from someone searching for “Christmas tinsel”, something I searched for too in the shops of Nürnberg:

I think that there ere was also a visit from someone who was googling “conductors' clothes”. I have written about the clothes that conductors wear and the shoes that we have on our feet, and my blog appeared on the top of the Google list link on my site meter, with these two postings below:

A bit further down Google’s list of clothes for conductors I found this:

How to Cook a Conductor

“…Next, pour one-half of the cask of wine into a bath tub and soak the conductor in the wine for at least twelve hours (exceptions: British, German and some Canadian conductors have a natural beery taste which some people like and the wine might not marry well with this flavor…”

When I read the title I wondered who on earth would want to cook a conductor!

As I read further I realized that, as with other accidental blog hits, this hit had more to do with conductors of orchestras than with conductors of lifestyles, but why someone would want to cook one is still a mystery to me. My computer skills are not that good so I have not discovered the author.

I have had a lazy morning letting my body and soul catch up with the missing hour that spring steals from many of us. I sat over a long breakfast and a computer lesson but it is now time to get on with something more constructive, but I can assure you that I will not be cooking any conductors, perhaps I will play trains or paint the springing, spring.


In the local free Sunday paper it says under the title Hello summertime! : “Not only does the well-being of the soul benefit (from the lighter evenings) but it also motivates us to spend more time outside in the fresh air”.

Perhaps also to get on my bike!

Saturday 26 March 2011

A sleepless night

"Andrew Sutton, Hong Kong 2010"

Brains, practice, training and congresses

Over the last couple of days there has been a lively thread on my blog involving myself, Andrew Sutton and Anne Wittig, under the heading “More about Brains”:

This morning Andrew Sutton wrote again broadening the discussion yet further.

I decided
to post his latest contribution here:

Apologies for coming back to you with a second long comment. Informed? No, puzzled and uncertain in these uncertain times, as I know many others to be.

Your Comment above set me off into a whole thread of thoughts – i.e. a sleepless night – connected or perhaps separate themes of which I pick out here but four: the 'brains question', 'independent practice', ' renewing training' and 'World Congresses'.

Apologies for appropriating your discussion space in this way but my own is currently appropriated by discussants on the specific matter of the conductor-training course at NICE. I welcome those who are using my own space for this and I do not wish to interrupt their flow. In the meantime, your Comments page offers a safe haven for more general conversation.

The brains question

That was an extraordinary performance by Uta Frith. You are right, this sort of thing is taken very seriously in our society, by many people who ought to know better. Why do they go for it? It cannot be for either the quality of the presentation or for its substantive contribution to our understanding of the human condition. The answer must lie outside, within the ideology and needs of those who go along with this. Granting as I do, the wonders of the technology that permits such 'brain science', and the patience and sheer hard work of those engaged in it (etc.), I have to add that the issue here, as maybe always, is as much a social (and even political) one rather than a primarily substantively scientific matter.

One day presumably it will be common knowledge that today's neuro-emperors (and empresses) are very short of clothes, and people may look back with incredulity at the sort of things being said about 'brain sciences and education' – just like nowadays the popular imagination is amusedly aware of the sheer barminess of much of the medicine of yesteryear. In the meantime, hold on tight on the firm bridgehead of neuro-sanity that you have found in Germany, and take reassurance that there is a whole archipelago of such islands of medical sanity (and psychology) around the world. Eventually the fashion will change, again, and you will be nothing like as isolated.

Maybe the message will also get out that pedagogy and upbringing may have rather more to teach the neuro-folk.

Meanwhile, keep the pedagogic flag bravely flying in KP.

Independent practice

I have read your point before on this site, both explicitly, as above, and evident implicitly in your vivid accounts of your work – that independent practice emancipates vital essences within the heritage of AP., permitting their generalisation and extension in ways not possible in what some people call 'traditional' CE settings.

In part of course, this may be freedom from the stifling effects of bureaucracy, management and professionalism to which CE practice can be as prone as is the practice of any other of the 'helping professions' – and this is in itself something that ought to be articulated more often, explicitly and publicly, as I know that is an implicit and private concern for many conductors (this perhaps relates to what I say about World Congresses below).

But I think that there is also something deeper here, something more dynamic. The world is changing faster and faster, institutions are tumbling, established idea and ways of doing things are being brushed aside, we are all having to do things differently (I am not of course just talking about CE here!). Institutionalised practice, institutionalised ways of doing things are by definition fixed, inflexible, and exceptionally hard to change. They may have no place (and no funding) in the new world, yet be insufficiently connected with outside reality even to learn new ways of doing things, never mind take leading roles in the process of change around them.

Independent practitioners can of course be as hidebound and died-in-the-wool as the grimmest bureaucracy. But at least independence may offer a wider potential for action and innovation. Your Conductor blog has taken an important lead in recounting aspects of your own independent practice and seeking to derive some generalisable points from this. A lead? The ultimate test for 'leadership' is whether there are followers. I know that there are others who try to follow your example privately, but I am pleased to note now that Anne Wittig and Lisa Gombinsky have come out of the closet and have joined you in recounting their independent practice and making their own public analyses.

Is this the way of the future for CE? Who knows? In the West perhaps this will be one important way. This too relates to World Congresses.

Renewing training

There is much in the news this week in the little world of Conductive Education – and there may be more so as the year progresses. There should be nothing new here, though, as underlying structural factors both within CE and without are no different than they were a week ago, or a year ago. The fate of existing training courses, wherever these might be and however venerable, is but a cork bobbing on an ocean of change.

CE bestrides a fault line between social-psychological (educational) and physiological (medical) understandings of the human condition – at least its rhetoric proclaims this and there are good theoretical grounds for thinking that here for once the rhetoric might reflect a reality. What a potentially exciting position to be in, how much might CE say to a much wider world (and I don't just mean to the world of rehabilitation!). And how edgy and uncomfortable, and even dangerous. Its practice (against which the actual content of training has ultimately to be referenced) is in a state of flux. The theoretical positions discernable in this practice are generally ill-stated and implausible, and if stated properly require rigorous and well substantiated defence in a variety of critical contexts. CE's financial-administrative base is, to say the least, shaky – and that was in the good years. For the future, the most optimistic analysis would regard CE’s funding as deeply problematic. New ways of practice, new independent bases, new sources of funding... All that is very exciting too – for some.

This is not to say that there will be no 'jobs for conductors', just that the bulk of these will not be the jobs that they trained for or, to put it the other way round, training for conductors will have to be very different indeed, in ways that may not be clear for some time yet to come. In such a context, conductor-training courses' closing because of financial and structural change may be doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

But what is done is done. What might be proposed in its place? More of the same, or the required radical departure? And if the latter, what forms might such changes about, and how long will all this take?

Come to that, what is 'a conductor' anyway, and what is 'training?

Such exciting potential Congress material!

World Congresses

Given that, if there is to be a World Congress in 2013,then this will be held in Germany, the cardinal question for attention there should surely be the one that Gabrielle Haug asked (in pre-KF days) when first trying to introduce this work into Germany – Was ist konduktive Pädagogik? There is still time to ask this question, before the wording shifts to Was war konduktive Pädagogik?

If this remains the superordinate question, then I would suggest the matters raised above to be important second-order questions: the 'brains question', 'independent practice', ' renewing training'.

From what you report in your blog, one might look no further than the people whom you reported in your posting on BrainWEEK to provide a lively, revitalising and empowering corrective to the usual neuro-stuff heard in such contexts. The independent practitioners already active in different countries have a lot to say, and doubtless in three years' time there will be more – again lively, revitalising and empowering. And the training? By 2013 the training landscape in CE might look very different indeed (think about that). Renewed, lively, revitalising, empowering. It had better be!

On the other hand the next World Congress might aim for the mixture as before. If it can find sufficient ingredients.

Thank you Andrew for this. I welcome other comments, either here or on the More on Brains thread:

Friday 25 March 2011

Just in case

"Another lovely sky"

Just in case you missed this:

or the trio that went with it:

Some of the best that I have seen for a long time.

I do hope Buddy Bear succeeds in saving their school. I remember the enthusiasm with which the conductors returned from those first Buddy Bear summer-camps with their distinctive Tshirts. I remember meeting conductors in London on their return trip from Northern Ireland when they were full of enthusiasm for the work that they had been doing in Northern Ireland. I think that these pioneering conductors will also wish that the Buddy Bear school manages to pull through this latest financial crisis and continue for another twenty-two years.

Thursday 24 March 2011

More about brains

"A pink sky at night, a cyclists delight!"
Going home from work yesterday evening

I got spotted by someone who works for the City of Nürnberg

This someone wrote to me yesterday asking if she could put a link to the BrainWEEK postings on my blog on the Turmdersinne Blog (Tower of the Senses Blog) that she.

I was of course delighted to be asked and agreed immediately. This evening I received an email informing me that she has posted “BrainWEEK, an afterthought”:

Not only has this lady blogger mentioned my BrainWEEK posting, she has also mentioned the work that I do. She has obviously looked a little bit deeper than this one posting. I am particularly pleased that she has picked these paragraphs from my posting:

"There was not one doctor, who claimed to know what was going on inside our heads, but they had a lot of experience amongst them and could tell us quite a lot about how they work to try to normalise disturbances in the well-being of their patients.”

“The concluding questions and answers brought us to the fact that despite tremendous leaps forwards in the study of the brain in recent years we still do not know very much. One doctor said that what we know now is hardly scratching the surface of what is happening in our brains, and it is impossible to predict whether over the next hundreds of years much more will be discovered.”

I know that on my next free morning I will be talking a ten-minute walk up the road to visit the Turmdersinne to introduce myself to this fellow blogger.

The museum is in one of the many towers that are built into the city wall. The Tiergärtnertorturm (the Zoo Gate Tower is at the top of my road and a few towers down the hill is the museum, situated in Mohrenturm am Westtor (Mohrenturm at the West Gate)

Thank you, Turmdersinne, it was very nice to be spotted!


Susie Mallett -


Mohrenturm -