What is Conductive Education?

Conductive Education (CE) is a holistic integrated pedagogical/educational system, which enables people with damage to the central nervous system to learn to overcome the challenges they face. CE is a process of experiences which leads the person to work with their motor disabilities, moving towards increased independence. It is a system which is primarily suitable for people with neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, acquired head injury and dyspraxia. Neurological conditions create a wide range of developmental challenges which can involve areas of gross and fine movement, perception, cognition, social skills, emotional development, speech, language and communication. These in turn can significantly affect motivation, confidence and personality. Ultimately it is the whole personality that is impacted by the condition. 

Aims of Conductive Education

Much of the Conductive Education literature speaks of the goal of orthofunction. In simple terms, this means helping people achieve their potential by nurturing and developing an attitude to learning which is based on simultaneous development of movement, function and personality. The desire to achieve, to be successful and to reach new goals is paramount in this process. The goal of orthofunction is ever-changing, as people extend the limits of achievement beyond that which they thought achievable. Conductive education enables people to view themselves in a positive way through meaningful activity. It assists them in problem solving, and learning strategies and techniques to approach the various challenges faced. This is when an orthofunctioning personality exists.

Aims to improve motor skills & functions

  • Positive educational philosophy that leads to the development of the individual's personality

  • Facilitates the motor disadvantages with the development of problem solving skills

  • Focuses on the individual needs within a group environment

  • Motivates to achieve goals and progression at individual pace

  • Unlocks the full potential of children and adults and prepares them for the next stage in their lives

  • Enables for more independent and socially included living


Andras Peto... where it all began

Conductive Education was developed in Hungary by Dr. András Petö in the 1940s. As a physician, he was interested in the rehabilitation of children and adults with physical disabilities, and the connection between mind and body. Dr. Petö recognised that people with lifelong disabilities require a different learning model that integrates education, therapy and (for children) academic learning into a unified, holistic model. Petö viewed people with neurological conditions as a whole; focussing not only on the body but also the personality. He therefore chose methods of facilitation in such a way that they not only made movements/ actions possible, but also developed the whole personality; the wish, desire and ability to be active. CE perceives people with neurological conditions as facing a challenge of learning rather than needing treatment for a medical condition. After a malfunction or an impairment of the central nervous system, there remains a residual capacity and an ability  of the brain to establish new synaptic connections. This is known as neuroplasticity. However neuroplasticity can not be tapped spontaneously - it must be activated. Petö argued that in order to ensure learning people with neurological conditions should be ‘taught’ rather than ‘treated’. Through a structured teaching environment, led by the conductor, the brain can use residual capacity an neuroplasticity therefore learning can be promoted. CE can be seen to utilise the neuroplastic properties of the brain in order to re/learn lost or impaired functionality.

Nowadays, the Peto Institute apart from providing Conductive Education to individuals with motor disorders; it also prepares future professionals for implementing and practicing Conductive Education. Peto's mission and legacy have been carried through the years and the geographical borders; although the aim remained the same - to show individuals suffering from injuries to the central nervous system and their families the way to a full life and to make society aware of the opportunities to help. Conductive Education was first introduced into UK in 1969, however it has dramatically developed and progressed in the last 15 years, resulting in a growing number of the Conductive Education centres and charities across the country.

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