Welcome to Friends of Camphill India
Camphill India
Seminar on Social Therapy and Curative Education

During a workshop organised by the “Karnataka Parents Association for Mentally Retarded Citizens” on the occasion of their 25th anniversary, a dedicated parent posed the question: “we have done so much during the past 25 years; we have set up training courses, vocational centres, etc., but what comes next?”

After almost six years experience in local residential living, and being backed by the international Camphill Movement which has been in existence for more than 60 years, it was felt that “Friends of Camphill India” could offer an answer to this question.

An introductory course of “Residential Care in the light of Social Therapy” was conducted in November 2004 to which persons working in the field of mental retardation as well as our own permanent co-workers were invited.

Since 2005 the course “Residential Care in the light of Social Therapy” is being held in blocks of two weeks training in both February and November over a period of three years. The course is based on Anthroposophy, the worldview of Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925), an Austrian philosopher and educator. Between teaching sessions the student is expected to work independently on study material as well as doing a project with a person with special needs. The results of this work are presented at the following session.

The course is guided and taught by Penelope Roberts from Camphill Community Copake, USA, a social therapist and curative educator with over 30 years experience in Camphill community life.

The faculty includes: Halina Rubisz from New Zealand, at present teacher and coordinator in a Waldorfschool in Nepal’. Aban Bana and Dilnawaz Bana from Mumbai, teachers in Eurythmy, Waldorf education and Anthroposophy in general and Dorothea Seabass from the Camphill School Hermanus, South Africa, a curative teacher with many years of experience.

Study subjects that are covered during this course include:

The Healing Environment and Care, School and Vocation, Therapeutic Intervention and Support,
Understanding of the Human Being - the twelve Senses; the first three Years of the Child; the seven Life Processes; the Human Soul, etc.
Observation and Inner Development – Perception of the Human Being through Nature; the Path of Personal Growth.
Artistic Work: the Seven Arts – Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Music, Poetry, Eurythmy, Social Art.
Biography And Destiny – Human Development; Seven Year periods; Crisis and Transition; Destiny and Karma.

Teachers and Students of the Seminar
During the Seminar our participants are also exposed to Community life. They share in some of the household activities and help watering the garden ( if time permits ) and they contribute to the cultural evening programmes, as playacting, music or other artistic activities are very much a part of the seminar.

While the Seminar is going on, our Indian co-workers are freed from community work so that they can devote all their time and energy to studies. This is a time when we rely on our foreign volunteers who put in extra time and care so that life in the community goes on uninterrupted and our special friends get all the attention they are used to.

By now we have completed the first three sessions of the Seminar and we notice a definite growth in the capacity of our students to relate to the needs of our special friends.

On completion of the Seminar in Spring 2008, we hope to start another course in November 2008 with new participants. We already have enquiries from outsiders, working in the field of mental retardation, and we can see a growing interest in building more Camphill-inspired communities in India.

April 2006

First Seminar on Social Therapy and Curative Education

Report from India: a new training

For two weeks at the beginning of February a group of 14 students from India and Nepal embarked on the first of a three-year, twice-a-year block training course in Social Therapy and Curative Education. All of them were already working in the field of mental retardation. The course took place at the Friends of Camphill community on Bannerghatta Road south of Bangalore in south India. Four of the students are co-workers from the community whilst the others came from Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kathmandu and locally from Bangalore itself. With one exception none of the students had any prior knowledge of Anthroposophy so we really had to start at the very beginning.

Luckily Friends of Camphill has a large and flourishing tropical garden replete with banana, papaya, fig and coconut trees, every kind of vegetable, flowers, pulses and other plants which I cannot even name. Every day we did an hour and a half of plant observation and drawing with the specific aim of learning to perceive the ‘laws of the living’, the etheric. At first this was clumsy, childlike. Over the days, however, the thrill became tangible as they returned from the garden bursting with their discoveries. Eyes were opening. They could actually perceive the subtleties of growth, of geometry in nature, of expansion and contraction, evolution and involution, inner and outer. How I wished that every introductory course could take place in such a garden where leaf, stem, flower and fruit coexist on one plantand where so many variations of the theme are evident.

Every day we worked with the basic understanding of the Human Being, Child Development, Biography and practical aspects of Care. We studied Rudolf Steiner’s book Theosophy.

During the first week Dilnawaz Bana worked for half an hour before breakfast and then another hour after lunch on the basics of Eurythmy. Her sister Aban taught a short singing session each day and then did half an hour of speech formation at the end of the day. Throughout the second week Halina Rubisz continued the morning Eurythmy. At the end of the day she took the speech work a step further, creating a dramatic play from the poem “The Owl and the Pussycat. In the afternoon I did sculpture with them, first with seeds and then clay, again exploring the secrets of form and the etheric.

We also had several evening events: two cultural evening with music and dance by the students and residents of the community, a biography of the Indian saint, Sri Ramana Maharishi told by Aban Bana and my telling of Goethe’s Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily.

As the central teacher I was deeply moved at the way in which the students took hold of what was being offered to them. They took extensive notes and then late into the night would copy then into their own ‘main lesson books’, large blank books which had been brought from Nepal. As the days went on and they compared books, the artistry and beauty grew to ever greater levels, the rather plain books becoming more and more filled with colour. Now they each have a proud record of all that they learned.

The students also changed. At first they were shy and timid, barely daring to speak up, quite closed off. Day by day they opened up, ever more confident. As we explored the mysteries of human life, always bringing it back to our own experience, they began to connect this new knowledge with themselves. Slowly new levels of meaning revealed themselves. At the closing review several of the students expressed that these two weeks had been life-changing for them. A couple said that they’d learned more in this time than a whole year at university!

What more could a teacher want to hear? This was a wonderful beginning to our course. We closed with the verse by Rudolf Steiner which had accompanied us each morning and evening:

To bind the Self to Matter
Means to annihilate Souls.
To find the Self in Spirit
Means to unite Mankind.
To behold the Self in Man
Means to build Worlds.

This modest beginning of a training in Curative Education and Social Therapy for India and Nepal is very heartening. I would like to thank all those who helped to make it possible, both in my home, Camphill Village, Copake, in Holland and in India.

Penelope Roberts

Second Seminar on Social Therapy and
Curative Education (February 2010 to 6th
January 2013)