Mission: healing education

February 2022

Karin Michael is a senior physician in the paediatric outpatient clinic at the Herdecke Community Hospital as well as a kindergarten and school doctor. We asked her how the children are doing today.

Erziehungskunst | Before we start, how did you experience your own childhood and school years?

Karin Michael | Happy! I am the second of five children, grew up in the countryside and was very well protected. The transition to kindergarten and school was not easy for me as an anxious child, but the Waldorf school, a patient family and a wonderful class teacher helped me. At the Waldorf School there are, after all, many great opportunities to show yourself in recitations, concerts and plays. So I was able to gradually overcome my tendency to hide behind the curtain all the time ...

EK | What made you want to study medicine, especially anthroposophical medicine?

KM | In geriatric nursing, I increasingly experienced the limits of the extent to which I could act independently and at the same time my interest in the health problems of the elderly grew. So I decided to study medicine and become capable of acting on my own responsibility. I was already familiar with anthroposophy through my parental home, it aroused my interest early on, and so you should rather ask me whether I could imagine medicine or even life without anthroposophy. And no, I could not.

EK | Does the anthroposophical perspective change the medical view?

KM | Yes, absolutely! It enriches, deepens and add to the possibilities of perception and action tremendously. I experience anthroposophy and the anthroposophical understanding of the human being as an almost inexhaustible source for extended diagnosis and treatment.

EK | ... and to what extent regarding the occurrence of coronavirus in particular?

KM | As a paediatrician, I have not had any diagnostic or therapeutic experience with the illness caused by coronavirus. I have only done a few telephone consultations for families with COVID-19. No children or adolescents had to present with it or even be admitted to us as inpatients. But my anthroposophical perspective made me look very critically at the handling of the measures in childhood and adolescence at a very early stage. What we understand by healthy developmental conditions was and unfortunately still is trampled underfoot!

EK | What do you observe in children and adolescents in the clinic, in your practice and in the schools and kindergartens under coronavirus conditions?

KM | In my school, I – like the children – have been allowed to be there far too little since the coronavirus crisis began. Getting to know the new class 1 pupils in a play lesson was turned into masked individual admissions. Even though the children did not wear masks, the situations were much more distanced, the perceptions clearly limited. During the time when class 1 pupils also wore masks, I experienced the children as being completely overwhelmed with regard to adequate interaction and severely impaired socially and emotionally. The longer the crisis lasts, the more I also experience teenagers and young adults as being frustrated, psychologically impaired or even ill. An invitation to life should look different!

EK | You teach at the Freie Hochschule Stuttgart – Seminar for Waldorf Pedagogy. What is your central message to the students?

KM | What is important to me is the theme of “education as a remedy” and that teachers must first be mindful of themselves so that they can have a healthy effect on their protégés in the sense of the educational law.

EK | Why is an educational and medical therapeutic response currently still necessary to the coronavirus measures since we all seem to be returning to normality.

KM | The old normality is gone. And we have placed an enormous burden of mental illness on the shoulders of our children, the healing of which will still represent a mammoth medical and educational task for many years come.

EK | There are plans to open a Von Tessin Centre for Health and Education at the Freie Hochschule Stuttgart – Seminar for Waldorf Pedagogy next year. What is its task?

KM | The earth, medically speaking, is in a critical condition and we with it. Coronavirus has made even clearer how much Rudolf Steiner was right when he forecast a hundred years ago: “Culture will become more and more unhealthy, and people will increasingly have to turn the educational process into a healing process for the things that make us ill in the environment. We must have no illusions about that.” (GA 294, p. 138)

We want to dedicate ourselves to a healing education and the health of people and the environment.

Mathias Maurer asked the questions

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