My visitors today

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Olympics Games 2012

Petö Institute, 1993
 Several people who I met at the weekend appear
on this photograph. It was taken just after I had received
my diploma from Dr Mária Háriwho is seated in the centre of the front row.

Football training camp

I have written about Jesse Powers on my blog before.

He is an inspiration to us all

He is a keen photographer using this skill to raise money to attend Conductive Education camps by selling his art. He held an auction several months ago of his own work and that of others. I sent him some of my own paintings and a couple of books to include amongst the lots.

Jesse is also a keen sports man

Take a look at this to discover just how keen he is:

I have an inkling that two other past clients are training hard for next September too. They both ride tricycles in road-racing events.

Best wishes to you all!


Saturday 26 November 2011

Összhang a Petö Intézetben

Harmony at the Petö Institute
An international conference at the András Petö Institute of Conductive Education
And what a wonderful atmosphere there was there.
This was not only my opinion, I heard a German visitor describing how cold and dull such conferences can feel in Germany. He was absolutely right, they can be a bit icy back “home” and the PAI got it just right at this Hungarian Science Festival 2011 event.
Of course I am very biased.
A singing soul at the PAI
My soul was singing as I walked up Kútvölgy, past the cog-railway terminal, past János Kórház and the other hospital, the name of which I can never remember, with the rumbling of trams in my ears.
The only thing that I felt was missing was the smell of a Traubant chugging up the hill beside me! They are noticeable through their absence!
I walked through the door of the Petö Institute with my head held high, I did not have to sneak in like I had had to do ten years ago,  and from the first moment the atmosphere was almost electric. An atmosphere had been created that any conductor would be proud to have achieved in a group.

For me there followed a continuous bumping into old friends, mostly from twenty years ago! It was like we had always been there. Some of my Hungarian friends were visiting for the first time after many years too. This made for a really harmonious singing-of-souls.
During the lunch-break I went up the stairs that for once were not filled with singing children, until I found the red floor and made my way towards my first-ever group, then the spina bifida group. There,in that group, with little Hungarian to my name in the early months of my training, I soaked up as much through my skin and my soul, as if by osmosis, as I could. I believe that many students and conductors had singing, happy souls working in that particular group and that is why we all get attracted like a magnet back there, and why when I opened the door today Laci básci had beaten me to it. He was already there enjoying being back home too.
Laci bácsi had been a special friend to me during the early months in Budapest because he was learning English at about the same rate as I was learning Hungarian. Sometimes as he gave me a lift in his brown Láda he would give me a Hungarian lesson.
I am sad to say that his English today is far better than my Hungarian is nowadays, but, never-the-less, as in Rome you do as the Romans and today I insisted that we speak Hungarian!
That funny language
When I was still at work in Nürnberg on Thursday, my colleagues were teasing me and insisted that we spoke Hungarian together in the lunch-break. They thought that I needed to practise, but I could not utter one word. My mind went blank.
I travelled to Budapest with a Hungarian colleague and still our common language remained German, until Friday morning when I walked through that door at the Petö András Institute. It was like one switch was turned off and another turned on.

My two languages today were English and Hungarian because I still cannot deal with all three at once.
The conference was in Hungarian. I decided that I would manage the introductions without a headset for translation, but I asked for one later, just in case, for when the lectures began.
The first stumbling block
I managed so well when Mihály Szivos Ph.D., from The Hungarian Ministry of Sciences, was speaking about the significance of unspoken knowledge in general pedagogy and Conductive Education. I did just as well, if not better, when Franz Schaffhauser Ph.D. spoke on the philosophy and pedagogy of inclusion.
The going got tough when Dr Ildikó Kissné Horváth, from the Ministry, was at the podium. Everyone in the audience I think realised, even before she told us at the end of her speech, that she had not known that the Institute worked mainly with disabled children and apologised for preparing a presentation about rehabilitation with adults. This lady spoke really quickly so I finally decided that I must reach for the head-phones.
I then did what I always did as a trainee conductor, I held one ear piece to my ear and kept the other ear free to get the gist in real life! I find it so important when listening to a speaker to hear how they actually say what they say, and despite it being very tiring with two ears listening to two  different people I get more out of it than just hearing it in English.
A favourite voice from the past
As I put the headset to my ear I got such a lovely surprise. Twenty-four years, almost to the day, since I first met her, I heard once again the voice of our regular translator. Kati translated for us British trainees from the word go, in 1987. She was our favourite translator. She knew so much about Conductive Education, even then in the early days, so she knew how to translate lots of the in-house terms that usually mean nothing to an outsider. She also knew how to translate what we said  in English into the Hungarian Conductive Language
Anyone watching me today would have wondered what the translator was saying to make such a huge grin cross my face. As I sought her out later just as big a grin crossed her face in the moment that we met.
Thanks to Zsuzsi
It was Kati’s non-English speaking, school-teacher sister who had taught me to speak Hungarian in two lessons a week for four years. This was the first time that Kati discovered what a good job her sister had done. Previously we had only spoken English with each other.
Today I was very appreciative of the good work that Kati’s sister had done with me so long ago. Speaking the Hungarian language somehow allows me to feel so much at home in the place that I spent four of the happiest years of my life.
The lovely one-day conference is over, but the weekend of meetings has only just begun. Also in the bits-in-between-for conductors I will be meeting people including at least one, if not two of AP’s first students, from 1947. I also dream of a dip in the Gellert baths, but can hope for a trip up to the castle and a long visit to the Mária Hári Library.
More about all of that later.

Friday 25 November 2011

Széll Kálmán tér

Sure enough
I have seen it with my own eyes.
The clock is still there, for meeting friends under. The brilliant book-stall is still there, so I just had to buy a book. I chose one about story-telling and the wishes of children, and perhaps adults, to live in such a fairy-tale world.

The ticket-office is still there, where I bought my first monthly student-ticket for two-hundred-and-forty forints. That was in Septenber 1989 and today, twenty-two years and one month later, I bought a three-day pass for more than three thousand forints!

The pot-holes are all still there in the same places. The red letter-box is still there with the lovely post-office building towering behind. The clattering, yellow trams are still there, the pogácsa stand is still there and the icing on the cake, there was one tessék néni selling flowers. At this late hour she was no longer calling "Tessék Tessék Virágok!"
Moszkva Tér is still there, except somehow it isn’t
Széll Kálmán tér is there instead looking exactly like Moszva tér always did, except for the sign on the metro station.
It is still a grubby, yellow round-about of clattering trams and dark figures always rushing in all directions, with a few standing still under the clock.
I took myself off down the road this evening after the conference that I attended had finished. I just had to check that nothing had really changed, even though the bus pictured above, that I saw outside the Petö Institute at nine o‘clock this morning, had Széll Kálmán tér clearly as its destination.

I feel relaxed that Budapest is still Budapest even if Moszkva tér, in name only, has vanished.
Pogácsa - cheese scone
Tessék néne - a lady from the countryisde selling wares, often flowers

Arty beiginnings

I have so many stories to write, perhaps a weekend in Budapest will give me the time to get the words down. Despite a busy programme and the obvious draw back of the return to my second home handing me a dozen new stories on a plate.
Abscent, arty-grauntie
My big Sis sent me a short message two days ago telling me of her latest adventures with Aimee,  my Dad’s great-grand-daughter, and when I got home I found an email with pictorial evidence.
The message said:  Sure Start painting with lots of different cars, Aimee loved it.”
 I replied: “Wow, I will do that tomorrow!”
The picture, sure enough, showed the tracks of vehcles that had travelled over a piece of paper almost as big as our Aimee.
Yesterday another message: “Did you try it?”
Sadly the answer was: “No, no time.”
Today I made time
The conversation with the three three to six-year-olds, who were watching as I prepared for our arty crafty activity, went a bit like this:
“Are we going to play cars?”
“Are we going to paint too?”
“How are we going to play cars?”
“With the paint!”
I do not think they believed it until they actually saw me wheel a Matchbox ambulance, then a Playmobile wagon, followed by a Formula One racing car through stripes of colour on my paper.
They could not wait to get stuck in, neither could my colleague who created the circular image above with a red fire engine!
So Aimee and Sis, thank you very much for the tip, it was brilliant. I hope Sure Start sends lots more ideas my way. After more than thirty years in the business of being arty with children and adults, some new inspiration is always very welcome.
Our Petö children were delighted with their gallery of motorised art! I think they went off to lunch still not believing quite what they had just done.
The  chasis of the Formula One racing car was a bit too low-lying for this kind of painting, perhaps with a thinner paint it would produce a finer print, with thick finger-paints it was the least succesful of all our vehicles.

Have lots of fun all of you who give it a go.
Sure Start – Government funded groups for early education. Aimee is only twenty-months old.

Oh I do so hope that the clock is still there.

I have been put right before I even get there!

 In an email today, after my enquiry as to now to reach my appointment for Saturday lunch:

" I am right in thinking I have to go from Moszkva Tér over Margit Bridge and then walk a short way to the left?"

I received the answer:
they have already changed  Moszkva Tér to Széll Kálmán Tér. But yes, get on the 6 tram in the direction of Pest and get off just over Margit Bridge, walk a little way then press button number 3 until I open up."

I wonder how many times I will have to be reminded once I get to Budapest that names have been changed yet again. I had to remember the changes once already, shortly after I arrived in Hungary for the first time in 1989. That time no sooner had I learnt all those terribly long foreign street names than they all changed. 

I look forward with excitment to my visit but also with a fear that in the past three years so much will have changed beyond recognition, not only in name.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Having a great experience and enjoying it!

I will be back soon with lots of lovely stories to tell. I have been too busy doing them to write them down just like some of my clients too.

Here is a snippet for now:

Riding was always the treat of the week for so many of the young people that I worked with at Macintyre, Bedfordshire in the 1980s and it is the highlight of the week for lots of our littlies and for our adult clients here in Germany.

Therapy, I do not know but it is a lot of fun and enjoyment for all those involved, including the teachers.

Photo call to receive a cheque

Jolly Professor and Little Princess are off next week on another photo call to collect a cheque for our riding centre. I hope that Riding for the Disabled, UK. get lots of people helping them out with donations too.

St Martin

Laddo, up North, took on his riding job permanently last Friday when he became his village’s St Martin. HE was seen on 11.11.2011 riding his stead through the village with the band and children with lanterns following him. It is a job that he might quite possible keep for the next fifty years just as his predecessor did. Uncle Karl Otto, as all the children call him, handed the reins over last year to Laddo in an emergency. A broken foot made it impossible for Uncle Otto to do the job then and has now decided that it is time at seventy-five to let Laddo take over for good. 

Laddo is twenty-one and has athetoid cerebral palsy. He has been riding since he was six and yearning to take over the job of St Martin since about the same time. Luckily he did not keep his ambition a secret so when it came for a change it was he who was the only possible choice.

We spoke on Thursday and spoke of our hopes of better weather than for his premier performance last year when it teemed with rain. I think it was Laddo who phoned me this evening leaving no message, probably wanting to report on his success. I have spoken to his mum this week so I know that he now takes on such roles without sleepless nights, and that Mum was not even there to watch as she had another appointment. It is all part of life now. All part of his and his family’s contribution to village life.

I have more such stories from the past few weeks when I get time to write them down, stories that are all about life and making the most of it, just as so many of my clients do.

Several of these clients have been in the lime-light these past few weeks and on one occasion they let me share it with them.

There will be more snippets of those stories if I get time at the weekend.


Saint Martin -

Friday 11 November 2011

Lest we forget

Friends did not forget me either, providing me with poppies once again.

Monday 7 November 2011

Wouldn’t it be nice if AP had been a prolific blogger too?

“Thanks Mum!”

I wonder what András Petö would think about all the discussion about inclusion.

He may have written about it on his blog, if he had had one!

I always thought that that was what it was all about at the PAI. If you could not get around school in Hungary you could not go to school. When you were active and motivated and had learnt to be independent in your decision making, in your movements, in all aspects of your life , then you went off to school. Of course that has changed over the years since different school systems have developed but it is still basically what happens at the PAI. Children often attend for a couple of years and then off they go into the big wide world, with a top up now and then. Just like our littlies from Kindergarten who are now at school.

I am very late in adding my comment to a theme that began last week on Andrew Sutton’s Facebook page and in the end when I came to writing it down I discovered that it was just a little too long for Facebook.

I have the permission from Andrew to publish the Facebook conversation here and it will be followed by my rather late thoughts on the matter:

'Petö und Inklusion'
Kongress Rosenheim 2012
9.-10. März 2012
Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Rosenheim
... Veranstalter: FortSchritt Rosenheim und der Bundesverband der Konduktoren
8. Fachkongress des Konduktorenverbandes

Susie Mallett Just for clarity, here in the title Petö means conductive practice and not AP, the man himself.

Andrew Sutton So strange, in view of what AP apparently thought about anonymity, personal identity and the reward due to merit, that he should end up an eponym! Not the strangest thing in the whole CE story of course, but an ironical and perhaps telling little aside. Thanks, Susie, for drawing attention to it here.

Susie Mallett ‎"Bärnklau and Inclusion" does not quite have the same ring to it does it?

Andrew Sutton No it does not, and I think this telling. To state the theme in these terms it would be necessary first to read Dr 'Bärnklau' and then ask what on Earth he might have to say of relevance to 'inclusion'... indeed what could he! One might also have to ask specifically what his thinking has to do with what some people call CE and others call 'Peto' (with or without the Umlaut!). By the way, you failed to say that Dr B was in fact Dr P> I suspect that not a lot of people know that!Formularende

Thoughts over the years

Interestingly what Vera Foster says in her book and June Savage said to me personally, one a worker in András Petö’s Institute in the early 1950s and the second a student a little earlier in 1947/8, and also what a young conductor has recently discussed with me, relates to this theme.

All three said that spending eighteen months to two years at the Petö Institute full-time can often be what children need to get all set up for inclusion for the rest of their lives, not just for school. June Savage told me that she is convinced that although she was already in mainstream education before she went to Hungary it was her 1eighteen months in AP’s group that set her up with a lust for living life to the full, gave her the belief that this is how it could and should be.

One of the children that I have worked with in the past remained in the conductive Kindergarten for an extra year for just this reason and it worked. He is set up for life for the whole of his future, not just for attending school. Not only did his walking improve but he also began to learn and to realise how to survive in the big wide world and at school. He worked really hard on spacial awareness, recognizing that there is something to the left of him, something else to the right, under, over, beside and at his feet. Now he sees it all whereas earlier on he did not. He spent a year learning that there is a world beyond the end of his nose and now he is out in it enjoying it, not only at school. This is what inclusion is about and I think this is want AP was on about too.

What do others guess that he was “on about”?

Vera Foster said in her book, and it is my belief too, that it was not important to András Petö whether children missed a year or two of academic schooling. It was important that they learnt how to go to school and how to learn.

AP and inclusion, yes I think so, but not meaning only school. AP was all about learning to live in the big wide world and all that it included.

I get the feeling that nowadays when inclusion is spoken about people only mean the right to go to mainstream school. For me inclusion means learning how to live in the world and this does mean learning how to go to school, that school may be mainstream it may not but it means an awful lot more. This is what we need to fight for, the right to learn how to achieve as much as we can, to learn how to want to be involved in life.

We must not only fight for the right to go to mainstream school but also for the education necessary to get there.


Vera Forster wrote in her autobiography, A Daughter of her Century, The Clucket Press, 2009: “The lack of formal education did not appear to affect the children’s intellectual development. You have to take my word for it, because Petö would no more tolerate a psychologist with an intelligence test than a salesman selling orthopaedic aids. Exercise was education. As far as I know none of the children had any difficulty with learning when they went back to school.”

One of my PSs is needed here…

…because of the picture at the top called: “Thanks Mum!”.

Thanks to my Mum, not only for collecting and scrapbooking endless amounts of treasures, the extent of which I am only now discovering, (oh how I wish we had shared this passion more when she was alive), I thank her also for teaching me how to arrange flowers. Her joy in flowers and presenting them as gorgeous, multi-coloured presents she certainly did share with me when she was alive.

It was because I grew up learning about nature, loving the shapes and the colours, the height, the smallness and the greatness of it all that I won my one and only prize ever at school for flower arranging, and I was only nine-years-old.

Mum kept this treasured First Prize tag that had stood up against the pewter vase with my spring arrangement of daffodils and lambs-tails. I may have been only nine-years-old but I had been learning how to arrange flowers from the garden and the hedgerow all my life. I picked red-dead-nettles for my Grandmother and arranged them for her in her scullery in a lovely log-like miniature vase. I picked primroses and violets for my Mum for Mother’s Day and arranged them in tiny posies. I was still arranging flowers with my Mum in the weeks before she died and I always arrange flowers for her, each time I am home, in the same pewter vase that won the prize with the display of daffodils and hazelnut-catkins.

I won that prize early on in my schooling and I never ever felt the need to win another. It did not matter to me whether I was good at mathematics or chemistry (I was not), or whether I could make the best Victoria Sandwich in the school, (I suspect that the person who could do that was my sister). What mattered to me was learning stuff from my Mum and Dad. 

Stuff like arranging flowers, hanging wall paper, cutting out jigsaws, polishing shoes, mending a bike, plucking a pheasant, catching and filleting a plaice, sewing a dress, grouting tiles, cutting glass, or double digging the garden. All of that, plus winning first prize for a flower arrangement, I had done before I started grammar school. It is that kind of “stuff” all part of growing up, learnt on the side, it seemed at the time, that has motivated me to go out and make the most of my life.

And I also think that it is why I am the pedagogue that I am.

Thanks Mum, and Dad of course.

Sunday 6 November 2011

Bob at NICE

A blast from the past

This turned up in my in-box today from Google Alerts. There are some questions asked that should still be asked today and some great footage from England and Hungary:

The quality of the video is sometimes poor but the essence is still there. It was great to see all those young people again!