When did konduktiv pedagógia and konduktiv nevelés become Conductive Education?

After posting the piece about Ester Cotton’s visit to Budapest in 1965, I have received an enquiry about the start of the use of the term Conductive Education. Translating the Hungarian phrases ‘konduktiv pedagógia’ and ‘konduktiv nevelés’, (the terminology of choice for most Hungarians) literally gives us ‘conductive pedagogy’ and ‘conductive upbringing’, not Conductive Education.I have had a look at the materials written in English between 1965 and 1972, after which the term started to become widely used in English articles, dissertations and reports. It is not clear, however, from these exactly when and why the system became known as ‘Conductive Education’.

Several reports of visits to the Institute made in 1966 give no name to the system, (Bobath, K.; Bobath, B.) but do mention ‘conductors’, (Parnwell; Seglow), ‘the Budapest method’ and ‘Pető’s training method’ (Parnwell). Seglow did report that ‘Pető regards his education as a conditioning process’. In 1967, Ester Cotton published an article in Nursery World which used the term ‘Conductive Education’ and another article with Margaret Parnwell in Special Education which mentioned the ‘State Institute for Conductive Education of the Motor Disabled’. These were both published after the death of Pető in the September of that year. In 1968 James House, an American professor who visited the Institute, talked only of ‘conductors’ and ‘the Budapest method’ in an interview, not ‘Conductive Education’ (Maas, 1968). In 1971, James Loring, head of the Spastics Society (UK) reported on a visit with no mention of ‘Conductive Education’.

James House went on to initiate a research project at Wisconsin University reported by Laird Heal in 1972 also referred to ‘Conductive Education’. From this time ‘Conductive Education’ seems to have become the term of choice in material held in this library and not other phrases, until the 1980s onwards, when ‘conductive therapy’ and ‘Pető therapy’ started appearing.

This is the result of a very limited and fairly quick search of the items in English held in the library. Searching in other languages may produce different results and further investigation would make an interesting research project for someone.

Other reports, articles, papers etc not held here may shed further light on the subject, so if you know of, or have any information please let me know!



Bobath, B. (1966) Visit to Pető Institute, Budapest, September 1966. Unpublished report.
Bobath, K. (1966) Visit to Dr Pető, Budapest, September 1966. Unpublished paper.
Cotton, E. (1967) They speak to move. Nursery World, 27 October, pp.5-7.
Cotton, E. and Parnwell, M. (1967) From Hungary: the Pető method. Special Education, 56(1), pp.7-11.
Heal, L. (1972) Evaluating an integrated approach to the management of cerebral palsy. Final report. Washington: US Office of Education, Department of Health Education and Welfare.
Loring, J. (1971) A visit to the Pető Institute for spastic children in Budapest. New Hungarian Quarterly, no. 42, pp.140-143.
Maas, R. (1968) Breakthrough in Budapest: an interview with James House. Ideas of Today, 16, pp.110-114.
Seglow, D. (1966) Visit to the Pető Institute. Unpublished paper.

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