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.
András Petö, the founder of conductive education, 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 which can be activated to take over functions from the damaged areas. This is known as neuroplasticity. However this residual capacity 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 access residual capacity and 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
Individuals without disabilities often learn quickly how to make use of their environment, how to connect with it, and use it as a tool in human development. They learn to adapt and respond to the environment and its demands. In addition, they learn to influence it thus having an active interaction with the environment.
This situation though, is different for individuals with neurological conditions. Disturbed mobility is accompanied by a challenge in the ability to perceive. The impeded movement can restrict or prevent interactions with people and objects which assist with development. Therefore the ability to adapt formatively to the demands of the environment and to engage in constructive interplay can be affected. This can result in negative experiences and frustrations which in turn affect personality. The dysfunction of the personality in turn restricts physical development and so the circle begins. CE aims to break this circle and transform the lives of people with neurological disabilities by creating people who both desire and are able to learn.
For more information download our publication What is Conductive Education?