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Wednesday 19 October 2016

Another thought for the day from Mária Hári

Autumn happened over night!

... and perhaps with a mention of those specialists. Once again from ‘The short story of Conductive Education’


‘This unified programme is determined naturally, by the level of the development of those participating. By gradually increasing the level and its requirements, the content and characteristics of their work, dependency and self-responsibility show an ever-changing picture and, in accordance with this, the entire daily programme alters. This is how the programme is determined by the level of development. In the introductory period (after admission9 the main purpose is to adapt the child to the group on the basis of his individual capabilities, using observation. The child can be switched over, but only gradually, to the new daily programme (to do the so called ‘work’) and to take responsibility for himself. This can take six to seven days or up to two or three months. In the subsequent work building of a good connection is of greatest importance, both between the child and other children and between the conductors who get to know the child. From the beginning gradual decrease of dysfunctional practices, their change and the building of new habits, are made constantly step by step. The child is examined by a paediatrician, neurologist, orthopaedist, audiologist, neuro-opthalmologist, dentist etc. who make suggestions regarding the child’s needs. Thus a picture of the child is drawn using these along with our own observations and the next aims to be achieved are recorded.’[1]

No recipes

As I have always maintained there are no recipes in CE, (, what works in one situation does not necessarily work in another. We need to have our eyes peeled to make use of every opportunity available for teaching and for learning and make sure we are always ready to be spontaneous and to adapt.


 Hári, M. (1970) The short story of Conductive Education, Mária Hári on Conductive Education, the Foundation for Conductive Education 2004, page 57

BBC Radio 4, Thought for the day – 

Mallett, S. (5 February 2010) No cook book for CE, Conductor Blog


Andrew said...

I just hope that everyone who reads this does realise that by 'observation' here Hária was referring to 'conductive observation'. I wonder. I still read the word used again and again by those who have not made the leap into a conductive way of thinking to indicate that they understand the word in the 'old' way, sometimes quite explicitly as meaning just passive looking or watching.
Keep up the good work!

Andrew said...

Oh dear,'Haria'!

And oh dear too, over terminology and translation, over meaning and sense.

Observation is central to the process of conductive pedagogy. And is often often referred to in CE English as 'operative'. I do not know what the original word was in Hungarian and what it may imply more widely in that language. In English, however, though the word is certainly used as both noun and adjective in other contexts,, these do not shed light on what it might mean here for the ordinary English-speaker.

If one looks beyond the meaning, to the sense of the word as it is used here, perhaps the word 'operative' is used to imply that something is operating. What could that be? Presumably it is the process of conduction, the to and fro between the conductor and the learner. Is there a better word than the awkward 'operative'. Possibly the word 'dynamic', giving us 'dynamic observation', something compatible with 'dynamic assessment' as used by some elsewhere, and linking hence with Vygotskii's zone of next development.

It's probably too late now, though, to rid ourselves of this word. Most conductors will be fixed on 'operative' or, if they are Hungarian, its Hungarian equivalent. Most of those not of the paradigm will continue to ignore what is to them a meaningless bit of jargon and then understand from what they do hear the kind of observation that they know anyway, passively observing things as they are rather than checking and counter-checking how they might be made better.

In 1971, in a very awkward English translation and with an apparently lack of appropriately psycho-pedagogic terms to discuss the matter, Mária Hári, along with Karóly Ákos struggled to explain in a short chapter (chapter 17) that seemed to regard the words 'conductive' and 'operative' as equivalent when applied to observation. The gist of these three or so pages (in the English edition of 1988) can be read as saying that this observation is an extended, skilled, creatively intuitive, wide-ranging variant of dynamic assessment. I know from private conversation years ago that this is something that Reuven Feuerstein so admired about the work of conductors as he had observed it. Praise from a master is praise indeed.

With this in mind, this short chapter crosses from being almost unintelligible to something rather different. Drop the jargon word 'operative', lose the apparently biological word 'reafferentive' (though the better psychological words 'transactive' and 'reciprocal' are almost as bad!). Substitute 'developmental' for the quite wrongly stated word 'biological', as one also has to in Dina. Lose the word 'facilitation ' as this chapter suggests and use instead the equivalent and less ambiguous word 'intervention'. Then perhaps one has here an authoritative statement on what 'observation' means in Conductive Education, to take an articulate place within a universe of other related activities.

It all depends upon what sort of question is prompted by one's paradigm. Not, as H and A put it here (p. 185) 'What can I attribute this to? ' but 'How can I see to it that this disfunctional can do this in in this particular concrete case and in the right way?'
Sorry to bang on here. Thanks for creating the place to do it!.