My visitors today

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.

1 comment:

Aenna said...

Funny you posted this blog today.

One of the few opportunities I have working during the week working in a group, is working in a mainstream private school.

Today I had only one of two girls in my session and out of the blue the resource teacher came to watch.

We were working on improving the control of hand movements and communication. All the preparation tasks we did ended up in us trying to work on using her new communication book. Its a quite extensive one and requires to categories and memories where to find different words. We decided using this to enable her to have a broader ways of communicating as she is increasing getting frustrated with the limited choice she has with her previous communication book (12 choices) or yes/no question people would ask her.

I brought some of her favorite things in : funny glasses, jewelry, wigs, hair brushes. I showed her how for example find a necklace and she was listening and following attentively with a few smiles and giggles in between. Then it was her turn. She lost her initial enthusiasm and decided not to make a choice. To be honest I was not to shocked because that happens quite frequently with her and always has been her greatest challenge. Therefore, it’s always my number one aim for her to increase her motivation to try. That of course is quite a complex skill and goes hand in hand in creating success, motivation to learn, decreasing fear, learnt helplessness, bad habits and way more.

Anyhow, I hardly had the chance to try a different approach, as the resource teacher commented that this might be way to extensive. I tried to explain to her that this might be the case but that this is the first time I have tried using it with her and that the problem lies again with her motivation to at least try as she did not. But as it happens quite frequently I don’t think she understood, which of course is partly my fault as I don’t express myself very precisely. She was talking on how to change the resources(I guess that’s why to she is the resource teacher), rather then on working on changing the girls attitude.

After reading your blog, my reasoning on why changing the resource will end up on hitting the same road blog became clearer. It has to with that she has not learnt yet how to be an active learner and with that be ready to learn at all times. Even though she does attend mainstream school, and with the best intension of teachers, assistants, parents and pupils, she is not really included. She does not learn the same things then everyone else, she does not do the same activities then everyone else and even during play times she is always the passive one and things are done for or with (pushed around, her arms been moved for her, it gets assumed what she thinks). However, she has a brilliant SEA, who gets her biggest issues and who has learnt to help her becoming active. She is doing a lot of new things but its because her SEA spends a lot of time reminding her in order to take part in things she has to try. However, because of break schedules she works with other people who do not know how to make her active. My job in the school is to show what she is capable of and what can be expected of her and how to help her become an active learner.

I would argue that in a full-time CE setting this would be easier and possible a quicker process as it would be more consistent and you can really use the power of a group of pears. However, I think its still possible to do it without that but it’s a longer way because a lot of other people have to learn first that learning how to learn is more important than the resources used (although they can be useful in the process).