Meaning and Value of Curative Education and Work

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By: Dr. Karl Koenig

From a 1963 essay, still timely, by Dr. Karl Koenig, founder of Camphill.

We must take the idea of curative education far enough to be able to recognize its true mission. It is not only child psychia­try, not only the pedagogical and psy­chological attempt to master environ­mentally disturbed children or stranded adolescents. Curative work must be a world-wide activity, confronting the "threat to the individual," apparent ev­erywhere, in a helpful way. The "cura­tive attitude" must find expression in every kind of social work—soul care, care of the aged, the rehabilitation of the mentally ill and physically handi­capped, the guidance of orphans and refugees, suicide candidates, and those in despair.

Only personal help—the encoun­ter of ego with ego—of becoming aware of the other's individuality with­out inquiring into creed, world concep­tion or political affiliations, creates a healing education which can meet the world's threats to our innermost hu­manity.

This, however, can only be effec­tive if we, as curative educators, learn to recognize that we are not just the guides but simultaneously the guided ones; not just the teachers, but at the same moment the pupils. As long as physicians judge the patient and do not see themselves as patients in the light of the illness too, they remain mere administrators and quacks.

How many psychologists and psy­chotherapists consider those whom they analyze to be grass and greenery with­out realizing that they themselves, even if they have gone through analysis, are not flowers, but part of the grass?

Curative teachers and social work­ers often feel superior to children and parents; it is easy to play the strong person with people in need of help.

The true curative educational atti­tude comes about when a new kind of humility grows in the heart which rec­ognizes the brother and sister in ev­eryone carrying a human countenance. Humility so undaunted and yet so ten­der in the face of need, degradation and suffering that it brings those tears to our eyes which make our will to help strong and devoted. When I help, I am helped. When I lead him or her, he or she will guide me. When I feed him or her, I myself am given bread. Only then is that word of the Gospel which says, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my breth­ren, ye have done it unto me" (Mat­thew 25:40) on the way to becoming reality.

Curative education was and is a science in progress. As such, it belongs to the field of child psychiatry, and is part of pediatrics, neurology and psy­chology. But it is also a practical art which grows and grows as education. Physiotherapy, eurythmy, curative eurythmy, educational painting, drawing, making music, music therapy and speech therapy belong to it. All the handicrafts belong to it, like weaving, pottery, woodwork and any other kind of so-called occupational therapy.

In its widest aspects, however, curative education is not only science, not only practical art, but human atti­tude. As such, it can be administered like healing medicine to those who stand under the crushing threat to the individual, which, in fact, is the des­tiny of every human being today.


Camphill Communities of North America

United States 

Camphill Special School-Beaver Run, Glenmoore, PA
Camphill Soltane, Glenmoore, PA
Triform Camphill Community, Hudson, NY
Camphill Village UBA., Inc., Copake, NY
Camphill Village, Kimberton Hills, Kimberton, PA
Camphill Village Minnesota, Sauk Centre, MN


Camphill Village Ontario, Angus, Ontario
Maison Emmanuel, Val-Morin, Quebec
The Taurven Community, North Vancouver, BC

For more information and brochures on all Camphill Communities contact

The Camphill Association of North America
224 Nantmeal Road
Glenmoore, Pa 19343
or Tel,Fax: 610-469-6162


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