Leading thoughts
Contact us
Karl König Institute

Leading thoughts

On May 7th 1964 Karl König spoke at the opening ceremony of the Camphill School Föhrenbühl at the Lake of Constance. This is a short extract from his address:

"We need to join together again in communities, but such communities that are not governed by bonds of blood but by spiritual principles that incite us to strive together and work for each other. There a mood can be set where adults and children can live in unison; important and not so important people, able and not so able but nonetheless in reciprocal appreciation of the dignity of the individual. Only when a new style of community is formed in this way will it become possible for children and young people to reach an expression of their true being out of which their individual contribution can ensue."

About the sense and value of curative educational work

This is the title of an article for Christmas 1965, written by Karl König only some months before his death. In the article he describes the history and origin of the curative education movement on the background of growing materialism and the chaos of war. After relating from the 18th century up to Hans Asperger and the post war
years, he describes something that has to do essentially and in depth with all his work:

"A so-called welfare society which starts to forget human values - a human race which denies racial problems and has invented at the same time means of mass destruction that can kill millions in a
few minutes - a social order which forgot the divine order and searches for new ethics that can't be
found any more because of the loss of belief in God - this generates a new array of tasks: to help the
frail, disabled, lame and sick persons, and those who have become defenceless and depressive to gain
once more their human dignity. Is it not a great miracle? Mankind on the brink of self destruction
creates something new that grows like a new seed within a sinking society. A holistic curative
education resembles the developing seed in a rotting fruit. We only need to understand the idea of
curative education in its widest sense, then we will be able to perceive its true mission......... it has
the potential to become a worldwide force that can meet the "threat to the individual" that now
prevails. The "curative educational approach" should express itself in every field of social work, in
spiritual welfare, in the care for the elderly, in the rehabilitation of the mental patients as well as the
disabled, in the guidance of orphans and refugees, of suicide candidates and the desperate; but also
in development aid, in the international peace corps and similar attempts. If we truly still want to
consider ourselves to be human, then this is the only possible answer we can give today while
mankind dances close to the abyss -.....

Only the help from person to person - the encounter of ego to ego, the realisation of the other
person's individuality without judging his confession, beliefs, world view and political education -
simply the direct and one to one encounter of two personalities -
is able to create this kind of
curative education that is able to meet the threat to the inner human being in a healing manner.

However, this will only be possible on the basis of a thorough and heart-felt wisdom.

(from "Camphill letter", Föhrenbühl and Saint Prex, 1965)

From "The Three Foundations of Curative Education" an essay Karl König wrote in 1948 for the Newsletter of "Weleda" but first published now in the volume "The Child with Special Needs" Karl König's Collected Works,
  Floris Books, 2009

At the end of the nineteenth century the decline of human society began. The social order which until then had determined the attitude of the individual began to collapse. The family, the village community, the guilds, the state itself, whether big or small, lost their real powers and therefore their significance. At first this was not much noticed and only gradually, the more this decline reached into present times, the more obvious it became to some people [.....] Today every 'civilized' country has to establish baby advice centres, marriage and family advice centres hoping to counteract the falling apart of families. Despite this social and societal fiasco children are born, in some countries even more children than 'wished-for.' They grow up without guidance or protection, at random, just in the way that comes with modern life. Does it really come as a surprise that there are more and more children who are no longer capable of being 'normal'? At the beginning of this century two or three of a hundred children needed special education. This has increased to eleven to twelve in a hundred. This means that 12 of 100, 120 of 1 000, 1 200 of 10 000 children cannot be provided with a normal upbringing in a family nor with regular education. And why should our children act 'normally' if they are put in a society the core of which is utterly and completely in ruins? Why should they wish to live as if nothing has happened on earth and things are fine anyway according to the picture painted by the newspapers and narrow-minded politicians? This world in which a child and human being has become a commodity on the employment market and a digit in the unitary state? A world in which from birth onwards everything has been set so that the developing person will find every advantage and condition imaginable apart from one: To be a human being! [.......] If these children are to receive help the first basic condition for curative education is to bring these children back into a truly social environment. This cannot be an institute or a school with dormitories and classrooms, with a dining hall and every other perceived requirements of a so-called institute, where teachers come and go and nurses and assistants and doctors have their work times and disappear again, leaving the child to his own devices. Everyone, educators, teachers, assistants, nurses, doctors can only help if they live with the children and do this whole-heartedly. If they form a family group with the children and if their own families are part and core of this family group. [.....] For this reason we have distributed the children here in Camphill into as many houses as possible where each child is 'at home.' [........] Every adult, however, who lives and works with the children and educates them needs to develop parental feelings for these children; these adults need to understand that nowadays it is necessary to create new families which are not based solely on blood relationship and heredity but on the intention to help and love these children who have actually become 'parentless.' Because although these children have a father and a mother they have separated themselves from their families because of their illnesses and aberrations and now need this new family which is created on the strength of the intention to help. To give the assistants and teachers, nurses and carers the strength required for this task a community of all those who work in these institutes and schools needs to be formed. This community, however, can only be a spiritual community which from within strives towards a goal which everyone as an individual and at the same time in community with their brothers and sisters tries to achieve. The ideological and religious unity of such a community is the basis for the new family which forms the social backbone for these children. In Camphill we have tried to solve this principal issue by making the community, which strives to stimulate the most positive strengths in the people who belong to it, the core of the social structure. Everyone who lives and works in the schools and institutes is part of it. Pursuing curative education without putting this primary social insight into practice will always result in doing things by halves; such a curative education will be helpful for individual children but it will ignore the basic problem. This basic problem is that the social order has broken down; as a result there is an alarming increase in children who need curative education because the structures within which children could hitherto grow up have disintegrated. New structures need to be created and formed so that these children find their feet again. .

to the top


© Karl König Archive 2018

Data-privacy / Disclaimer

Last updated 10. August 2018