Curative Education: A Review

Here is a review written by Carrie Dentler, enthusiastic Waldorf at Home forum moderator. Carrie, as a pediatric intensive care therapist, has an on-going interest in the health bringing basis of Waldorf education, including that focused specifically on children with various challenges and disorders. More of Carrie’s lively and warmth-filled advice and opinions on all things Waldorf – both parenting and education – can be found at her very popular blog, The Parenting Passageway:

About Curative Education by Carlo Pietzner

Have you ever wondered about anthroposophical  curative education?  Here is a nifty little booklet to provide a solid introduction to this important subject:  Carlo Pietzner’s About Curative Education.   The lectures given by Rudolf Steiner in 1924 and now collected in Curative Education  are the foundation of this movement.  These were twelve lectures given by Steiner regarding specific indications for specific children which grew into curative education.  This little booklet aims to introduce some of the concepts Steiner put forth in these lectures.

Steiner introduced the concept that children and adults who have special needs should be seen as those who have “special tasks to be worked through in a special way.”  There is a thought that these affected individuals are in need of “soul-care”. 

Pietzner writes, “The concept implies  that by appropriate care and practice the soul-activity of a handicapped person can be guided and stimulated to become a mediator between that individuality and his unwieldy bodily nature.  It postulates an intact spiritual entelechy in contrast to a damaged, inadequate or one-sided bodily foundation.  But the soul needs help and support if it is to learn to mediate between its higher intention and its imperfect instrument.  An element of “healing” must become active.  And that is the foremost ingredient in the “special soul-care” that Rudolf Steiner provided.”  Curative education sees individuality as “indestructible”  and that an individual’s uniqueness provides us with ways to help.  An individual never is only the challenges he is facing in body, but himself.  

Curative education takes place in the classroom,  in the home, through daily life and routines.  This was a very remarkable idea in 1924!  Medical care and eurythmy. especially curative eurythmy,  are seen as a hand –in-hand approach with the curative teacher.  The spiritual resolve of this teacher and this teacher’s talent is of the utmost importance.  Steiner lectured as to the extreme importance of the relationship between the teacher and the person with special needs; there is a reciprocating relationship rather than a doctor-patient, caretaker-“suffering”  person.  The inner work and preparation of the curative educator is of utmost importance as this work involves the whole person.

Steiner lectured about this inner work, saying that the curative educator must feel called to this work, that the educator must work constantly to improve themselves and to be able  to connect their own intuit and attentiveness what they observe.   Clear insight is an essential skill, this ability to observe closely and then take it inside and see how one can best help.   “Perhaps the most valid diploma of the anthroposophical curative teacher is his enthusiasm for the experience of truth….That one has “passed” is often disclosed by the smallest event:  A child has mastered a deed long striven for. ….But it is not the achievement – and these are genuine achievements- not this that arouses the enthusiasm.  It is not a question of the success of a subtle training procedure.  Rather it is the confirmation of a specific expectation, of a confident hope that has based itself on innumerable observations.”  But the curative teacher and the  individual take this journey together, and it is always addressed to the individual, not just the symptom.  Remarkable stuff for 1924 and for today.

Pietzner goes on to write that the source of curative education was Steiner’s taking of Goethe’s work further:  “This fundamental source is the teaching of metamorphosis, that dynamic principle of transformation by which the spiritual manifests itself in the physical realm.”  Steiner used the image of the lemniscate to connect the head and metabolic-limbic system, using this as a piece on top of inner work and observation for the curative educator’s use. 

There is more in this little booklet regarding karma and curative education, the curative teacher as a co-creator with co-responsibility, curative teaching as an attitude, not just a profession, but I leave you to read this for yourself and discover the gems in it!


Posted on March 2, 2010 in Active and Therapeutic Education

  • Jo Taylor says:

    Hello Carrie and Donna, I’m very interested in reading this book. I’ve been searching for it, and can only find the title “Aspects” of Curative Education, but not “About” Curative Education. Where did you find the book? I have found a copy on Abe Books, but it’s not a booklet it’s hard cover.
    All the best,
    Jo T.

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