Curative Education and Remedial Education
  

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By: Ruediger Janisch, AnneClare di Giovanni

Curative Education
by Ruediger Janisch

Since 1924, Curative Educators have worked to bring healing to those with developmental disabilities. Based on the work of Rudolf Steiner, PhD 1861-1925), curative education embraces a broad approach to working with individuals challenged with developmental issues. First, curative education combines a spiritual view of the human being and of the biography of the individual. It is out of this spiritual foundation that diagnosis and therapeutic measures are prescribed. Second, the curative educator undergoes an inner training that seeks to awaken the personal qualities he or she will need for such a profession. Qualities like compassion, love, interest, courage, reverence, devotion and responsibility are consciously developed by meditative and contemplative work.

Curative education is therefore as much an art as it is a science. Its practitioners must have knowledge of a range of subjects, from pediatrics, neurology, psychology, special education and pedagogy to spiritual development. Ultimately all of this knowledge is for a single purpose: to allow people facing extraordinary challenges to develop their potential to the fullest.

For further information, contact:

Camphill Special School,
1784 Fairview Road,
Glenmoore PA 19343
Telephone: (610) 469-9236, Fax: (610) 469-9758
email: BvrRn@aol.com

 

Remedial Education
by AnneClare di Giovanni

FONMUNA (The Federation of Natural Medicine Users in North America) played a significant part in my biography. It was through participation in its founding meetings and workshops in the Boston area that my vista opened to the expansiveness of the work of Rudolf Steiner. I now see that all that we do with conscious devotion is natural medicine.

I was a public and private school teacher in the late 70's and 80's before I had a family and I had always tried to enliven my class work. We would recreate medieval times with costumes; we wrote, read, played music and lived our way through what we were learning. What joy the children experienced when we transformed the classroom into a print shop. The children did the type set, made block prints and sewed their own books. But something was missing. I didn't know what until years later, when my youngest child began to approach school age, I learned about Waldorf education. Its methods and ideas on education inspired my thinking and brought fresh ideas to understanding the educational task. I discovered Rudolf Steiner's insights into the stages children go through and how curriculum can be developed in a way that speaks to this development. And so I felt compelled to pursue Waldorf Teacher Training in spite of being an experienced Massachusetts Certified K-8 Teacher with a Master's Degree in counseling.

During my internship in Waldorf School I saw that, since my teaching days, childhood had changed as a result of the accelerated pace of life and the demands on family life. The wonderful curriculum was challenging for more than one third of the class. Behavior problems and "learning difficulties" appeared the norm. Then I met a retired Waldorf teacher who introduced me to the Extra Lesson. The Extra Lesson is based on an understanding of the first seven years of life and how the development of the physical body becomes the foundation for the faculty to learn. It involves movement, drawing and painting exercises. The children were saying, "I am trying to get into my body. Give me heart-felt work to do that will meet my body, soul and spirit—I am here. I am strong. I am waiting as patiently as I can. Why can't you see me?" Audrey McAllen developed the Extra Lesson out of her experience as a Waldorf Teacher. Her penetration of Rudolf Steiner's educational insights and her meditatively acquired knowledge are fundamental to her work.

It is now recognized, through the findings of neuroscientists and occupa­tional and physical therapists that the physical body, with its well-balanced sense of movement, equilibrium and sense of life (well being), is the foundation on which the faculty to learn is based. In the first three years of life standing, walking and speaking are accomplished and out of this the child is able to say ‘I.’ In the next four years the life forces of the child focus on developing this foundation. Out of imitative actions the child develops skillfulness that goes right into the innermost parts of the physical body. This time in the child's life needs to be protected. It is the solid ground on which further development is placed. Learning possibilities are hampered when higher levels of the brain are used to maintain movement and balance that has not been well integrated into the body. Energies, used "intellectually" before the body is ready, draw on life forces. This misplaced use of forces has far reaching effects for the future of an individual. Many mid-life crises are the result of early childhood stress. The situation has become so accelerated that today the effects are reaching into the middle school and teenage years when our children ought to be full of energy and enthusiasm for life and learning. Unfinished stages of development from the first seven years of life do not naturally correct themselves. Thus the Extra Lesson activities benefit anyone willing to practice them.

May our hearts be enlivened to find creative ways to take up this profound work for which Rudolf Steiner gives us indications so that we may develop our work out of freedom and love.

I am now an Extra Lesson Practitioner helping children with difficulties in writing, reading and arithmetic through movement, drawing and painting exercises.

AnneClare Giovanni has a private practice in Bedford, MA and also works with individual students at the Cape Ann Waldorf School in Beverly, MA. She will respond to questions at extralesson@fiam.net. Association web site: www.extralesson.com com

 

References:

McAllen, Audrey. The Extra Lesson. Fair Oaks, CA: Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1999.

Wilson, Frank. The Hand (How its use shapes the brain, language, and human culture). NY: Pantheon Books, 1998.

 





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