Sitku, Krisztina: The heritage of the Life Reform Movements in today’s Camphill Movement

The rich and colourful heritage of the late-19th century Life Reform Movement (LRM) survives in the present-day communities of the international Camphill Movement. Joining such a life-sharing community involves the newcomer’s full immersion into its unique way of life and educational system which are inspired by the teachings and preserve the practice of several branches of LRM. Especially one of its peripheral religious trends (Krabbe, 2018), the theosophic-esoteric Christian teaching of anthroposophy and Waldorf-pedagogy (Németh & Ehrenhard, 2018) have had a determining influence on the camphill system. Rudolph Steiner’s teachings, together with Karl König’s curative education (McKanan, 2017) aim at the holistic development of mentally disabled children and adults in the hope of providing them with a full life. Therefore, our paper investigates the surviving traits of the Life Reform Movement in 21st century camphill communities by describing and analysing the theoretical background and everyday practices of the camphill lifestyle, curative education and their complex pedagogical system. Our research was based on the content analysis of the latest English and Hungarian literature, and the website and Facebook pages of selected English, Scottish, American and Hungarian camphill communities. This was supplemented by the author’s first hand experience of the Mount Camphill Community, UK and data from an in-depth interview with Zsuzsanna Halász, a leader of the Hungarian Camphill Association. Our results show that the ’ecology of Camphill’ (McKanan, 2017) and the social therapeutic system of curative education have preserved, extended and raised most of the teachings of the LRM to a higher level by the second and further generations of anthroposophy. However, in terms of social inclusion, as the equality of mentally imapired people in all aspects of life, as well as the internationality and multiculturality of its communities are important distinctions. The camphill values of inclusion and participation, life-sharing and mutual support, environmentalism and sustainability not only further the special educational objectives of the Camphill Movement, but also provide a wealth of good practices to wider society and promote the formation of new learning communities (Jackson, 2013; McKanan, 2017).

Keywords: life reform movement, Camphill Movement, curative education, anthroposophy, Rudolph Steiner

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