Monday, 19 March 2012

The parents’ conference in Rosenheim

"And"
"Advertising at the conference centre"


"Advertising at the railway station"

The parents’ conference in Rosenheim

I was ill when I arrived in Rosenheim for the conference, I drank tea for colds, took medicine and coughed nearly all weekend, losing my voice completely at one point, and I have been at home in bed almost ever since. 

It is now time to report on the weekend, however late I am doing so.

I cannot honestly say that I got the most possible out of the conference, but I did my best to take part as much as I could and I soaked up the happy atmosphere.

An international flair!

On my way south-eastwards I collected a group of foreign delegates from the airport at Freising before boarding the double-decker train with them all en route to Rosenheim. That put a bit of an international flare on the whole affair for me. It was a delight for me to rekindle friendships made in Hong Kong and meet some people I had known of for years but had never actually met before. Best of all it was a real treat to have an “English” weekend, something I had not thought about before I set off! 

At Rosenheim railway station we were met by my bestest friend and colleague who escorted us to our hotel. Between the two of us we liaised with the organisers for our “English” visitors, made sure that they were comfortable and did our best to translate for them at the presentations during the following two days.

Translating

I found myself at one point translating from Hungarian to English for an Israeli on one side of me, and, while the Hungarian was being translated publicly into German on the stage, I translated from German into English on the other side of me.

Unfortunately there were not enough people at the conference willing to do this kind of translating and some of the delegates from abroad did not always have someone telling them what was going on, leading to them feeling slightly excluded from the proceedings and not in the picture as far as inclusion in Germany was concerned.

The most difficult task for me was as up on the stage translating questions and answers after Dr Andrew Sutton’s presentation about András Petö.

My bestest friend was also put into a very difficult situation about ten minutes before a podium discussion, when she was asked by the pre-arranged translator to step in instead and do German-English-German translating. Of course she said Yes, but it was not easy.

We decided afterwards that this is not a job for us. It is incredibly difficult first to understand what it is that speakers are saying and what it is that they wish to convey with their words, and then to put it into another language at speed. I could manage it from German and Hungarian into English but not the other way round.

I wait with interest to see how translations will be organised at Munich’s WCCE 2013. I expect that presentations will be in English, as always at a WCCE, so a professional translator will be needed for German speaking delegates. We will see how it goes.

Selling books

When I was not sitting in presentations, listening and translating, I was at the book-stall drinking herbal teas, doing my best not to cough and trying my hardest to sell books. I had copies of my first publication with me, but it being a mainly German-speaking audience I did not expect to sell many of them. Mainly I was there to sell copies of my second book, for my client, Waltraud. It was because of this conference that we had set the March deadline. With more than two hundred delegates present, I was sadly disappointed to sell only fifteen copies. 

Unheilbare Krankheiten and Unfug

I also had with me half a dozen copies of each of András Petö’s books, of which I sold three or four. These books were referred to in two of the main presentations, by Dr Franz Schaffhauser and Dr Andrew Sutton, which drew a little interest. But I still ask myself why it is that so many conductors do not read.
One of the more senior conductors present heard my comment and shook her head, she has never found out why either.

A family affair

Yes, this conference had a bit of an international flair about it but more importantly this conference was first and foremost a family affair.

It was during the bits-in-between that the families-at-work were most apparent. There were children giving the guests “Welcome Brezen” in the form of an ‘&’ to symbolize the und in Petö and Inklusion. At coffee time the tables filled with beautiful homemade cakes made by parents, and parents and children were ever present to ensure that the delegates were content all weekend.

Parental involvement was not so obviously apparent in the conference rooms but it was there nonetheless. From the moderation, through the photography to the sound-control desk, everything was in the hands of the families.  

The content

As for the content of the conference, opinions were divided as to how much we learnt and what there was that was new.

It was very interesting development that the whole of a conference on conductive education covered one specific subject, but this still left room for a diversity of speakers and some lively discussion.
The programme can be found here:


And in English here:


On the same site documentation of the presentations will be available to be read very soon.

Summing up

As I said I was feeling poorly at the conference, but I was still able to come away feeling that at least in Rosenheim and the surrounding area, big steps are being taken towards inclusion’s becoming the norm and it will not remain for too long a ‘right’ that always needs to be fought for. There was evidence that there are pedagogues and politicians who are fighting for the cause and may even be supporting the conductors in their arguments that they could be the ideal practitioners to be involved in this process, and could quite possibly fill a huge deficit in pedagogues qualified to work in inclusive schools.

I wonder how the implementation of inclusion will develop across the rest of Germany, a country that as far as the inclusion in mainstream schooling of children with special educational needs is concerned, is far behind many other countries. It was very interesting to hear the speakers from England describing their longstanding practice in a country where inclusion and conductive education were both hot topics when I was training to be a teacher back in the early eighties!

All in all I think that for delegates, presenters and organisers it was a very successful meeting, media coverage since has been good, as was the advertising campaign in the town prior to the conference.

Pre- and post-conference work

The German annual conference is always a good opportunity, when many conductors, teachers, centre-managers etc. are gathered together, for the various associations to convene for annual meetings.

On the morning before the conference the Scientific Board for the 2013 WCCE, Munich, gathered to discuss the next steps in planning. 

Post-conference meetings took place for the German Conductor Association, the European Conductor Association, and the National Association for Conductive Education. The website for the German Conductor Association is the place to look out for any notice of information that is made public from these meetings:


PS

I still have several copies of both the books by András Petö, if anyone is interested in reading them, in German of course, send me an email.

I also have many copies of the book that I edited that was written by my client Waltraud about her life since surviving a stroke. The same applies drop me a line if you would like to order copies.


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