Susie Mallett

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Tuesday 28 September 2010


"Autumn" by Susie Mallett, September 2010


I have been reading through a pile of magazines that had been lent to me by my conductor colleague. They are rather special magazines and not only because they are printed on good quality paper and are full with glossy pictures. They also contain material of an exceptionally high quality.

These are the magazines that parents of children attending Waldorf schools in Germany receive every month. I actually could not believe that they really are monthly publications so I had a second check. They definitely are.

The title of the magazine is ErzeihungsKUNST. The Art of Upbringing. The front covers are advertising such goodies inside as:

Jeder Mensch ein Künstler? Rudolf Steiners Denken in Farben und Formen

Everybody is an artist? rudolf Steiner's thoughts in colours and shapes

Gehen Sprechen Denken

To walk To speak To think

Von sich selbst und anderen lernen

Learning from yourself and others

I have a small publication too from the same source called: ”Wacheln die Zähne- wackelt die Seele” “ When the teeth wiggle the soul wiggles too”. It is a book full of advice for parents and other upbringers on what changes are going on in the lives of children when they begin to loose their milk teeth and the new ones appear. In Germany this coincides just about exactly with the first day of school!

Surrounded by so many inspired pieces of writing I thought that there must be something in these publications suitable for me to mention here on my new blog. I expect that there is but I cannot get down to specific articles just yet, as the whole concept of Waldorf schools, and upbringing in Germany, is keeping my thoughts busy at the moment.

Last night I was just sitting at the kitchen table where the magazines have been resting for a couple of months now. It is the place where I read an article from them now and then over breakfast or with a last-thing-at-night cup of tea. The mass of material in the six magazines that I have is very impressive. Most of them are written by teachers who work in the many schools around the country.

I was taking photographs of the covers to accompany a posting one day and I thought about how lucky I am to live in Germany, a country where there is so much written about upbringing and where the soul is mentioned on every second page, or so it seems.

It is special for me to live in a country where the upbringing of children is talked about and written about and not only in these rather special magazines from the Rudolf Steiner schools but also in the flyers and advertisements for courses that we receive from the local government departments responsible for Kindergartens. They too are informing the family about the importance of upbringing and the healthy soul.

What else was I thinking?

As always when I get onto this subject I thought a lot about AP.

I wonder whether we need to look quite so far as the Soviet methods of upbringing when searching for what could have been amongst András Petö’s thoughts, ideas or motivations for developing his conductive upbringing. András Petö’s life was part-Hungarian but is that where his upbringing comes from? He was also Austrian and German, (with I think a bit of French thrown in). He must have known as much about the upbringing of children as is practised in Austria as I know, if not more. He knew about the upbringing of children in Hungary, he may well have been interested in the methods of upbringing that was beginning to be spoken about in Russia.

There are so many books in German, written by the doctors, educators, pedagogues and other practitioners who were developing different methods and following different philosophies at the time when Petö was living and working in Austria.

Maybe for him, what he experienced in Austria fitted in with his ideas, just I have the feeling that conductive upbringing just fits to the German family way of life!

There is so much speculation about what is the background. Questions like: Where did AP develop many of his ideas?

I wonder is we need look much further than the end of our noses. Here in Germany, especially in the Waldorf schools, upbringing is extremely important and not so far removed in some cases from what we read in Makarenko’s A Road to Life. There are schools with art workshops, and craft workshops, market gardens and small farms. There are learning centres for people with disabilities, people living there or attending courses, finding solutions to problems so that life can be lived enjoyably.

During Petö’s work in various clinics in Austria he would almost certainly have come across, and may have even worked with, the many methods that he writes about in his two books. Methods used by various practitioners all aiming to unite a healthy body and a healthy soul in the attempt to rid a person or illness. It is what is on offer still to clients in the many clinics up and down the country in Germany, the places one goes to when in need of rehabilitation of body and soul.

András Petö would probably have know about all the different pedagogical and upbringing methods being developed and experimented with at the same time.

As I sat there with my pile of magazines and note book late last night I thought that yes they may be a lot glossier that the papers Petö was involved in producing. The book on wiggly souls and teeth may be more modern than the two books that I have read by A.P., but are the contents really so far removed from each other?

Conductive upbringing (Förderung as it is called here) fits in well to the system, the lifestyle, in Germany. Of course we have to struggle to find the finances just as people do all over the world, but the lifestyle of the Germans, the philosophy behind various pedagogical systems or forms of upbringing has helped the acceptance of the method in many small pockets around the country. Places that are developing systems that work within and alongside the German “norm”, (if there is a German norm).

My colleague, the conductor who gave me the lovely magazines to read, and I still dream our dream of finding a Waldorf school to take our Kindergarten graduates and having conductors working alongside the teachers in Waldorf schools. If I was twenty years younger I may have even contemplated a Waldorf School teacher-training!

Where we are and who we are

I was wondering too as I sat with my magazines, late night cuppa, my thoughts and Andrew Sutton’s late night posting, how much Anne Wittig’s work in BC might be influenced by her German upbringing.

I know how my work as a conductor is shaped and formed as much by my own rather special upbringing in England as it is by the influences of the country that I now choose to live in. It also is shaped by my experiences working as an art therapist in a Makarenko-style centre in England, but I think that living in a country that knows about uniting the soul with upbringing and education allows me the freedom to work as I do.

How much of the influences of the countries that András Petö chose to live in were incorporated into his work when he returned to Hungary we may never really know. And an even more important question to which we may also never know the answer is: which countries were they?

Despite having no answers, I still could not help thinking as I sat there with my thoughts and healthy soul last night that I am lucky to be working as a conductor in Germany. Sometimes some things just fit into place more easily than if I was really as British as I sometimes think I am. These are times when I am wondering about the reasons why AP developed konduktiv nevelés in the way that he did!

And maybe for a German conductor working in BC sometimes some things will just fit in to place more easily too.

We may never really know. Soviet, Austrian, Hungarian, German or just AP?


Erziehungskunst, Waldorfpädagogik heute, Bunde der Freien Waldorfschulen e.V:

”Wacheln die Zähne- wackelt die Seele” by M. Kiel-Hinrichsen and R. Kviske

Andrew Sutton

Makarenko A Road to Life, Progress Publishers, Moscow

Anne Wittig -

Sunday 26 September 2010


"Bringing back a piece of home"
by Susie Mallett, September 2010

In Andrew Sutton’s “starter for ten” on this new blog, he recommended a book by Uri Bronfenbrenner:

Two Worlds of Childhood". Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-21238-9

I have ordered my copy and will certainly be writing something here about what I read, when the shipment arrives.

Until then here are a couple of paragraphs about the author that I discovered while googling the German and English book shops.

As a result of Bronfenbrenner's groundbreaking work in "human ecology", these environments, from the family to economic and political structures, have come to be viewed as part of the life course from childhood through adulthood. The "bioecological" approach to human development broke down barriers among the social sciences, and built bridges between the disciplines that have allowed findings to emerge about which key elements in the larger social structure, and across societies, are vital for optimal human development.

Generally regarded as one of the world's leading scholars in the field of developmental psychology, Bronfenbrenner's primary contribution was his Ecological Systems Theory, in which he delineated four types of nested systems. He called these the "microsystem" (such as the family or classroom); the "mesosytem" (which is two microsystems in interaction); the "exosystem" (external environments which indirectly influence development, e.g., parental workplace); and the "macrosystem" (the larger socio-cultural context). He later added a fifth system, called the "Chronosystem" (the evolution of the external systems over time). Each system contains roles, norms and rules that can powerfully shape development.

There were lots of copies of the book available here:

Saturday 25 September 2010

Upbringing and lifestyle, comments and painting

"The lake where we fish" by K.L. Mallett

Comments sometimes get buried on blogs. This one below got so buried that I have only just noticed that it is there. I apologize Laci.

I think this one should not be buried at all and I am moving it onto the postings page. Since I decided to do this I fiddled around doing a million other things I have now discovered that Laci has also responded on his own blog, thanks for that too Laci:

Dear Susie,

As you know, I have no Internet for a long while and at the same time my life became happy and busy since end of March this year.

The time that I can spend next to my computer or on the net and blogging is very limited, it is just too difficult. However, to find a little time to read you (and my former blog community's posts) is always uplifting activity.

Thank you for doing this. It is very valuable thing.

The Makarenko topic is a kind of key point to understanding CE. We, who were raised in Hungary before 1989 have had an education at school and many of us at home too what is refered to as socialist education. In Hungary, the lifestyle things and education were different from the Sovjet but the socialist moral, ethic and collectivisim were on the same base that that really 'produced' different people.

CE was thought to be practiced in that environment. It is not a secret.

Since CE has arrived to the west only some people wanted to understand CE as a whole; embeded in an ideology. The ideological conflict between West and East never led CE to be taken as it was. Of course, CE was too socialist (maybe communist).

Nowadays, the tendency to discover some values of the Eastern European psychology and education is growing. Your new blog will shed light upon the ideology of CE - which anyway has already started changing.
Good luck, and I wish you a lot of readers.

Szogeczki Laszlo

21 September 2010


K.L. Mallett who painted the picture at the top is my Dad.

My Dad started to join me painting at the living-room table about four years ago using the water colours that I gave him as a present when he retired, fifteen years previously. He is one of the wonderful people I know who shows me constantly how upbringing never stops. I suppose it really must be called lifestyle when one reaches eighty-four, as he just has.

Whatever it is that we call it, lifestyle or upbringing, conductive or something else, my father shows me continuosly how adaption is the name of the game! He shows me how life goes on even after sixty years of being everyday with the same person and suddenly finding yourself all alone. He paints wonderful pictures in the long, lonely evenings and mostly he gives them to me. He finds it hard to understand why I love them so much but they are sent to me never-the-less.

The rest of the family are eager to start a collection of his paintings too. They all now receive their handmade birthday, Christmas and Easter cards and my Dad does admit that it gives him pleasure to see that we enjoy them so much.

My dad is still spiralling in his eighties! Not only in his life as an artist, but also as a cook and a caring neighbour and as a wonderful great-grandfather, a role that he just loves.

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Relevance of Soviet upbringing: judge for yourself

"Staying power" by Susie Mallett 2010

Off to a good start!

This morning I received the posting that Andrew Sutton had earlier lost under a cushion somewhere in Cyberspace!

Sorry, Andrew, that you have had to wait so long to see it in print! It has been a very long, six-language day at work today!

Andrew told me that he hopes that I receive many more contributions for my new blog that will describe conductive upbringing in operation, in the home, at school, wherever, in all its myriad manifestations. So do I, fingers crossed that this "starter- for-ten" sets the ball rolling.

Thank you, Andrew.

Relevance of Soviet upbringing: judge for yourself

The then Soviet Union invested considerable effort into the development of upbringing (vospitanie), in the family, at school and in society at large, and in the post-War period much of this leaked into what we used to call the satellite countries.

Having invested no little effort in trying to understand Soviet education and developmental psychology, before I ever came upon Conductive Education, I was impressed from the outset at how what I saw at the then State Institute for Motor Disorders in Budapest, conformed to Soviet expectations. Mária Hári would have none of this, of course: ’Everything that we do here is from Pető’ she vigorously protested when I suggested to her that Hungarian nevelés looked to me so very much like Soviet vospitanie.

A few months ago, on Conductive World, I asked conductors to comment on what they knew about A.S. Makarenko. There were no responses at all on line, though I did follow it up with a little personal questioning. The responses were salutary, characteristic being ‘He was the one who hit the boy: personally I do not believe in doing that’. Someone (maybe yourself) suggested that this referred to the well-known pivotal episode early in Road to Life and was something that student-conductors at the PAI would mug up for a final exam. Certainly, I found no suggestion of a theoretical acknowledgement of the possible role of vospitanie in helping shape the regime at the PAI.

Maybe of course things are different in Hungary now. Even so, the powerfully formulated formulations of Soviet vospitanie are as good a starting point as ever for exploring how one might bring up children with personality traits, moral values, personal habits, self-discipline, social tolerance etc. etc. appropriate to the life ahead of them – and from there shine a searchlight into the far less articulated depths of conductive nevelés.

During the good/bad old days of the Cold War the late Urie Bronfenbrenner used a study of Soviet vospitanie as a means to shed light on how Americans socialised their children. He wrote a truly lovely little book that was published in huge numbers on both sides of the Atlantic and is still profusely available through the Internet booksellers (and, in England at least, on the shelves of many local second-hand bookshops), with UK prices ranging upwards from £1.00:

Bronfenbrenner, U. (various dates) Two worlds of childhood: US and USSR, published by Wiley and Penguin, and perhaps others too).

I had wanted to find a nice quotation to offer you to help define upbringing but I am afraid that my own umpteenth copy of this book appears to have been liberated (as were its predecessors) . I suppose that I ought to consider this a good sign – it shows that people want it – but it was a Penguin edition, by far the most visually attractive, so I rather resent it!

I have also looked in Google Scholar but this did not help at all fill in my blanks and come up with a nice quotation.

So I am left to recommend that, if your readers wish to read about upbringing, in an attractive and engrossing little book that has the further advantages of being (a) short and (b) nothing whatsoever to do with Conductive Education, at a superficial level anyway – then they should buy themselves a copy.

Maybe somebody might even like to try to make a similar sort of anthropological/ecological comparison: ‘the two worlds of childhood: conductive upbringing and what happens instead’!

The vospitanie/nevelés question has been raised several times on Conductive World. Here is a couple of instances:

Andrew Sutton
September 2010

Monday 20 September 2010

Family upbringing as the Soviets describe it and....

Learning to live!

I have at last found something to kick off my new conductive upbringing blog. In fact in the end I plumped for two pieces from my collection.

The first article is taken from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc.. It can be found in full at:

The second is something of my own about Makarenko and his work that I originally published on “Conductor”:

Family Upbringing: as described in The Great Soviet Encyclopedia

The systematic, purposeful influence of the adult members of a family and family ways on the child. The main, general objective of family upbringing is to prepare children for life under existing social conditions. The more narrow, specific objective is to make sure that children master the knowledge, skills, and habits necessary for normal personality development in the family.

The goals and means of family upbringing are determined by the socioeconomic structure and the level of cultural development. Family upbringing is usually organized on the basis of the ideology, morality, and system of interpersonal relations in the social stratum to which the family belongs. It is inextricably linked with adult self-education and with the development in adults of qualities and character traits that ensure an effective pedagogical influence on children.

Among the main aspects of family upbringing are constant but unobtrusive guidance of the child’s activity, including play and, later, participation in domestic affairs. Family upbringing also includes helping children to broaden their ideological and intellectual outlook and providing serious thoughtful explanations of phenomena about which children should know and in which they show an interest. Another important part of family upbringing is the formation of higher moral qualities in children, including collectivism, patriotism, internationalism, respect for elders, honesty and truthfulness, discipline and a conscientious attitude toward family obligations, a solicitous attitude toward things as the results of human labor, and a love for nature and an ability to perceive its beauty. Family upbringing also involves acquainting children with works of literature and art and encouraging them to participate in physical exercise and sports. Pedagogical science orients parents toward gradually increasing the scope and complexity of the information provided in family upbringing and toward systematically raising the demands on children as they grow older.

During the child’s kindergarten and school experience, the main trend in family upbringing is toward continuously coordinating the efforts of the parents and institutions. The unity between educational influences in the family and the school expresses the unity of social and family principles in raising the future builders of communism. The adult members of the family help children with their studies and with the rational use of free time to further their comprehensive development.

References were made to:

Makarenko, A. S. Soch., vol. 4. Moscow, 1957.
Sukhomlinskii, V. A. Formirovanie kommunisticheskikh ubezhdenii molodogo pokoleniia. Moscow, 1961.

The following "snippet"describes my joy in discovering Makarenko

Now I am collecting books on Upbringing!

I am slowing getting through the reading that I missed when I was at the PAI training to be a conductor.

Now I receive copies of papers from some of the NICE conductors, things that they had given them in their training, and recommended reading from several sources.

This week I have finished reading all three volumes of The Road to Life (An Epic of Education) by A.S.Makarenko, in a lovely 1951 Soviet English translation. I read the first volume over a year ago and I have just tracked down the second two through Abe Books. They were actually sent to me from a disused church in my home town, Norwich. All three volumes are in quite good condition and smell delicious, good enough to eat!

I was hooked after the first volume and I had been impatient to read on, to discover more about Makarenko's work and life so, as I spied the small parcel on the stairs one morning earlier this month, I unpacked it with glee.

I have been reading Makarenko to and from work all week, in my lunch hours, and even on the tram to the theatre. I would have read in the interval of Joan Baez if there had been one. Now I am hooked on his writings and I feel myself a Makarenkoist through and though

Tears, not sad ones

A. S. Mararenko makes me cry.

I cried often while reading these three volumes. Not because of the desperate state of affairs that he describes, because he makes even the accounts of all the work to be done full of optimism and somehow a wonderful thing. The need to move onwards, developing and creating, going through new hardships, all this doesn’t make me cry either.

He makes me cry mostly because I realise as I read further, that I have been right all the time. Right to enthuse over every tiny thing that a child says, or does, or sees, or is excited about. It is what my Mum did and what my Dad did and still does with me. My life changed when I left that environment at eighteen, I missed it very much, but I took this skill with me. I incorporated my parents' ability to enjoy and enthuse over the little things in life, to be thrilled by every change in development, and to encourage further interest and adventure. The ability to take time. I believe too that I share their ability in transferring this enthusiasm to others.

Time doesn't tick by, it stands still

I realised while reading A. S. M. that I have been right all these years to delight in all that children and adults do. I discovered that I am right not to have been deterred when someone asked me to hurry up when I listened to the detailed explanation given to me by children or by adult clients of something that they had experienced. Where else will someone find the time to listen and try to understand, if not in my group?

I realise that I am right to value how, in my work as a conductor, time itselfseems to stand still. Time allows me to enthuse, to be delighted and thrilled by the small things in life, time allows me to notice these things. Just as it did when I was a child, poking under leaves looking at frogs with my Dad. (Oh no, I forgot that happened last Easter!)

In Road to Life A. S. M talks about making healthy human beings, creating healthy souls and bodies. That is what I always wanted to be involved in. I suppose that is what I have always been involved in.

Please sir, I want some more

I have finished the books now and I want more of the same. Maybe I will go on to the Lectures for Parents, maybe I will watch the 1953 Soviet film The Road to Life.

I felt that it was so important for me to write about, to enthuse about and to share my excitement about what I have been reading, but I really don’t know at this stage what more to say.

Doubtless I will return to A. S. M., but this is all for now.


A.S.Makarenko -

Road to Life (An Epic of Education) volumes I, II, II., Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow 1951.


Since writing the posting above on "Conductor" I have also read the following books by A.S. Makarenko and several papers by V.A.Sukhomlinskii. I will post some of my favourite snippets from these wonderful books over the next few weeks. Until then do not forget the invitation on the left had side of the blog, please send some of your favourite snippets to post here.

Lectures to Parents

Learning to live, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow 1953.

Makarenko and his work, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow.