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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A place for transformation

No, I have not forgot about blogging. In fact, I have started to write three different blogs and hope to finish them eventually. All as I think from great importance but it will have to wait.

Today, I received a late Christmas gift. A book I really wanted and my yoga teacher recommended to me. I already read another book by the same author and absolutely loved it. This book is called: ”Yoga and the quest for the true self” by Stephen Cope, a yogi and psychologist. I know the title sounds kinda esoteric and out there but just like yoga it really isn’t. It makes – at least to me- a lot of sense.

As so often passages in this book sound so conductive. But so far have not necessary been documented (lets hope that changes eventually).

Anyway, in the first book Stephen Cope writes about his experience of being introduced to his deep experience with yoga and how he has been told that transformation can and possible will happen through the yoga practice.

Transformation – a word that lets me recognize ideologies that are on the same wave length with Conductive Education. Andrew Sutton taught us about transformative pedagogies including CE, mediated learning, Makarenko, Montessori, etc. I guess that’s where I have it from.

Furthermore, the next lines I read just smelled of CE in the sweetest way.

There he talks about transformative spaces – places that can provide transformation.

“Effective transformational spaces create the conditions for our growth and make growth all but inevitable. Once we find them and commit to them, transformation is pretty much a “done deal”. But here is the rub. Many environments proclaim themselves to be transformative spaces. But many of these fail to provide the real conditions needed for maturation.” (Cope ,1999 p27)

He goes on and gives nine conditions to aid identification of truly transformative places. Conductive Education looks different in different countries and centers, institutions and homes, however I think fulfilling the following categories is the ultimate test of figuring out if a CE place is really conductive or just appears to be.

1. They create quality of refuge.
He means places where oneself is been put in charge of ones learning. Without that person taking actively part in learning it’s useless. It’s a place where you are safe to be yourself and safe to be able to transform. With young children the process in CE is a bit different as we still teach them certain standards (impose standards of our society) but only so they are able and open to learning and one day can be in charge of their learning.

2.They create safety through constancy in relationship.
This refers to the relationship with one steady mentor/teacher/conductor. The teacher provides emotional support so the student feels save to share their deepest experience and learn. We have been taught that without the client feeling safe (may that be emotional or physical), no learning can take place.

3. They encourage creativity and experimentation. In other words provide conditions so the client can achieve an orthofunctional personality. In most cases a lot of different skills have to be learned before the individual is ready to do this. But in all cases opportunities for being creative and experiment with ones abilities need to be created.

4. They are organized around “transitional objects” that are constant and reliable.

I think in CE this can be a lot of things. Especially CE specific teaching tools like the tasks series, daily routine, rhythmical intention and facilitation (equipment includes) are objects that provide consistency and are reliable. It is meant for being a bridge/tool to bring the individual to the next level of learning, but abolish itself as soon as this next level has been achieved. The consistency of it will give comfort and encouragement to move to the unknown.

5. They do not deify these transitional objects, or themselves. As conductors, we are human and that’s what we should be when we are with our clients. A true transformative space aims to make objects/conductive tools as well as the help of the conductor themselves, one day unnecessary.

6. They provide us with a way of finding out who we are.
Giving support to the individuals lifestyle choices, even if we would not choose this or it’s non-conductive. Again, I think with children this is a different story as we are trying to give them all the skills so they have the tools as adults to be as independent as possible.

7. They do not have to be perfect.
Life is not perfect neither should be every program. We have been told during our training, that we should check if things are running too smoothly if we really create learning opportunities (and opportunities for errors) or if we are just floating by on auto-pilot.

8.They are open to, and support, other path to development.
We as conductors, should be open to learn new ideas, principles and seek understanding to where other professionals come from, as we want others to be open minded enough to do the same.

In my opinion we have a lot to learn a lot from yoga. This text has giving me for sure a great inside into may own practice of trying to create a transformative environment for my clients.

Further, the way the ancient yoga texts developed was through collecting experiences. It still develops and adjusts to live, especially in the Western Civilizations, but its there and starts to be more general accepted without seeking to be.

Btw, Viktoria I think this might be the eight steps to distinguish between snake-oil therapies/treatments and real learning opportunities.


Cope, Stephen (1999) Yoga and the quest of the true self. New York Bantan Books


  1. Thanks, Anne, for a stimulating post. As I read it, I found myself testing Paces against the 8 standards ... and checking out the standards with reference to Paces. Challenging both ways.

  2. For sure it is. I think it's a good one to keep us on our toes. I know I have to make sure I do those all the time.

    If you have any additions/changes, let me know. I'm very curious indeed.