This was first published on Conductor on Saturday, 21 February 2009I have decided to repost it here on "Upbringing" because of just one sentence that caught my eye and summed up for me the change being spoken of in the condcutive world. The change thatis already taking place,or still needs to take place in conductive work of the future:
"It is essential that parents, partners, carers and the clients all understand what conductive upbringing is all about, that it isn’t about lying on a plinth and counting 1-2-3-4-5 while a leg or an arm is being bent, that it is about something much more than this.
It is about learning to live,..."
Looking forward to spring by Susie Mallett
There is quite a long correspondence going on in the comments section of one of my previous blogs:
The correspondence is about camps and how parents learn about conductive pedagogy and conductive upbringing if they are experiencing a conductive camp for the very first time (or second or even a third time come to that).
Who needs a plinth?
It is essential that parents, partners, carers and the clients all understand what conductive upbringing is all about, that it isn’t about lying on a plinth and counting 1-2-3-4-5 while a leg or an arm is being bent, that it is about something much more than this.
We need ballet, driving, singing and snow!
It is about learning to live, learning how to attend ballet class, even learning how to get there alone. Learning how to stand up and sing at choir practice and even once more becoming the conductor! It is about learning how to get in and out of a car and maybe one day driving it yourself, or about dressing yourself to go out in the snow then learning how to build a snowman.
It is about motivating oneself to be active in the life that one has at this given moment, and it is about continually striving for change.
It is about spiralling upwards and onwards, with everything that we have already learnt influencing every other thing that we have learnt, and influencing absolutely everything else that we do. It is about living with a soul that is healthy.
Relating and giving conductive tips
A child or adult client, parents and carers need to be shown how to relate the tasks given in group to real life situations. Yes, it may be easier at first to hold a solid stick in both hands and bring it behind one's neck but would it not be a good idea to actually make clear that in doing this movement we are learning to put a scarf around our neck, or lift our arm to comb our hair, and then actually try it out with the real thing, try it out in the bathroom at home with a conductor giving tips!
I am not saying that these things don’t take place at camp. Of course the children get dressed and go outside, fetch themselves a drink from the fridge etc, but if there is something missing then it is the link between the tasks in a programme and real life.
And who do we need to provide this link?
The parents and the carers, and the conductors.
I have heard it said so many times that clients have suddenly realised why they practise specific tasks, the penny drops and they realise that a certain movement facilitates a certain activity at home. I sometimes hear from parents (or carers) that they didn’t know how their child/ partner had learnt to do something independently in a group.
Both these statements tell me that there is a failure somewhere in communications, something is missing. That same link is not there to real life.
What can be done to change all this? How can this link be forged?
I have recently had the experience of working at a centre where the children attend groups regularly throughout the year but, because of the great distance travelled, the families stay at the centre, just as they do in many camps. I have seen the many hours of living done as a family outside group, hours that could be utilised. The question is how could this be done to give the whole family the best during their precious few weeks at camp, how can they gather as much information as possible to take home with them?
I suggested, in a comment on my previous post, that perhaps providing another shift of conductors who would work outside the group hours might give the answer. Conductors to work alongside the family, there to advise when out on shopping trips, when getting in and out of the car, getting on and off a bike, when playing cards or board games, preparing breakfast, dinner and tea together. The conductors there to give tips on how the child might be as active as possible in the daily life of the family.
Another suggestion, more on the theoretical side, would be to provide seminars in the afternoons or perhaps in the evenings for parents and carers. Perhaps something about Dr András Petö and his life, the development of the Petö Institute under Dr Mária Hári, the bringing of Conductive Pedagogy out of Hungary, how the many different countries then developed and changed it to suit their personal situations.
Most importantly there could be lots of practical examples to show what conductive upbringing is about and lots of question-and-answer sessions.
I have the feeling that something needs to change. These camps are so important to these families, they save up their time and money to attend. It is the responsibility of the service- providers to see to it that after a five-week camp that parents and children alike go home with a very good understanding of what it is all about.
My work in Germany is very different. We have regular contact with parents, carers, adults and children. They live locally so we can phone and make house visits. We can be called to meet teachers and physiotherapist. We can be there when a new wheelchair is fitted or when new moulds for shoes and splints are made.
When I have new adult clients coming to my groups I usually make a home visit before we begin working together. We can spend an hour or two talking about conductive upbringing, the groups, our aims and their personal needs. As work in the group proceeds it is essential that in every block we spend some time discussing conductive rehabilitation and how the clients use at home what they learn in the group. We discuss their everyday lives, other family members come in to join us, to observe or ask questions, and everyone gives everyone else “conductive” tips.
Children usually come into the centre for an initial assessment and this is also gives the conductor the opportunity to explain about conductive upbringing and to give printed information and answer questions. In subsequent parent’s meetings, with and without the child present, we can discuss the child’s progress and what is happening at home and at school on a regular basis. We can talk more about conductive upbringing.
We work with the children and adults five times a year in our groups, bt they live locally and we have contact them all the time. I visit other families up to three times a year in their homes and we have regular telephone contact with each other in between times.
We have a different system here to that of the “camps” We do offer a “conductive holiday camp” to our “regular” children in the summer, although these are usually just for the children, parents don’t stay on site. In our system ,with regular contact between families and conductors, we do not have convey so much information in such a short time.
There are twenty-four hours in a day
So back to the question how do parents at camp learn about conductive upbringing. They are there on site twenty-four hours a day for several weeks. Their children disappear into group for maybe six hours a day, where they are working with the conductors on the programmes developed for them. Maybe it really is time to use those hours outside the group time to help the process along.
What do you all think?