Susie Mallett

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Mária Hári on Conductive Pedagogy

first published on Conductor on Tuesday, 2 September 2008

"Study in blue" by Susie Mallett, 2002

"Love is not enough. It must be intelligent love"

I used to think that Dina (Ákos, K. and Àkos, M. 1991) was the most useful book that I had to recommend to parents of disabled children so they could get a good understanding of conductive upbringing and conductive pedagogy, but now I have begun to recommend a second one.

The more often I read my "Little White Book" of Mária Hári on Conductive Pedagogy, with her smiling face radiating from the cover, the more I learn and the more convinced I am that everyone should read it!

At first I thought that Dr Hári’s book would probably only be useful to conductors, or maybe to other professionals, who already had some idea of the subjects covered here, but now I believe that it could be also useful to parents, especially those who do not have access to conductive work in a group setting, or whose children attend schools or groups where only "elements of conductive education" are on offer. Through reading this book they can learn about conductors and their training, the formation and dynamics of groups, daily routines and all aspects essential to a conductive upbringing.

Each time that I delve into these collected papers of Dr Hári many familiar phrases leap out from the pages and make me consider that maybe, if parents knew this or that, they would then be able to visualise the system that they wish to use to bring up their child.

While reading further I wonder whether this book is not also full of information for non-conductors working in the field, which would perhaps lead to an improved understanding between colleagues.

Dr Hári always did have a way of saying things which made me exclaim during my student days "Oh, yes it is actually so simple, really it is common sense".

Of course it was never that easy, but she did have a way of bringing ideas together so that conductive pedagogy was understandable to us at last, and she does the same in many of the papers in this collection.

There are many points in the different papers which would help parents to understand that conductive upbringing is not a therapy to which a child is sent, but it is a life style that they can choose to follow for many years to come, that they too must learn. By reading on, beyond all the facts and figures, one could exclaim" Oh! Yes now I understand ", just as I did in the early 1990s in Budapest.

It is also possible to use this little book as a dictionary, as the index is full of words that one comes across in almost everything that there is to read about conductive pedagogy and upbringing, and for which a definition in context would often be welcome. Words such as "spontaneity", "orthofunction", "tasks", "observation", "facilitation", "attention" and "activity".

These are words and phrases commonly used only in the "conductive language" and therefore sometimes difficult to define. Look them up in the index and there will be several references to them in the book and explanations to be found.

This is not just a compilation of papers on conductive pedagogy. There a long introduction by the editors where you can learn some of the history of conductive education and something about the life of Dr Hári, you can read of how she proceeded to share her knowledge and how conductive education began to spread to all corners of the world.

There are a couple of sentences in the introductory pages that always make me smile when I read them as they describe Mária Hári well and tell of how she presented conductive education to her audience with all her heart and soul.

"She would lace her account with anecdotes and asides, and could let these lead her argument into new and unexpected turns."

This was exactly how she was and as a student it was very beneficial if you knew about it as you could use it to your advantage. You could so easily lead her on to subjects where you had a greater knowledge and steer her away from a subject in which you were faltering.

"She liked to interact with her visual materials, film, sequences of still photos and overhead projections and in the privacy of the student lecture room she would readily leap on to the table, 'making the gymnastic' and using her own body to illustrate the point"

Yes, she really did do this. I have seen her in action! She made conductive pedagogy come alive as indeed she does in this collection of her papers and texts.

It is well worth a read!


"Love is not enough. It must be intelligent love"

Mária Hári , Standing up for Joe, BBC1 1 April 1986.

Dina by Ákos, K. and Àkos, M. 1991, Birmingham and Ulm: Foundation for Conductive Education and Alabanda–Verlag.

Mária Hári on Conductive Pedagogy, edited by Gillian Maguire and Andrew Sutton., 2004 Foundation of Conductive Education
ISBN 1-897588-24-0
available from Gill Maguire at

First published on Conductor-


  1. One of the (many) things that I did not get around to doing over 2010 was to prepare new materials for a second edition of this book.

    Now this is pencilled into the publishing plan for Conductiuve Education Press, for 2011.

    Why 'new marerials'? Because I recently heard that a second edition is nowadays expected to include at least twenty per cent extra text.

    I think that we will be able to make this!


  2. Funny how you mention this particular book. I must have had this book in my hands around twenty times in the last few days. It is a great book to look up certain aspects of CE and I used it a lot to put my presentation together.

    Quite often when I read something that Hari wrote, I understand it in a new way. It lets me know that I have grown as a conductor or person or maybe both and makes me wonder how I ever saw the world in a different light. This made me actually curious if I would understand her in a new way again (as it has been a while since I really read it). So its on my list to read again as soon as I finished my current bed time literature.