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Emergency Pedagogy Conferences

Corona - Opportunities and Risks for Children and Young People - Conference 2021

International exchange on the Corona crisis as online and face-to-face event

What are the consequences of the Corona crisis for children and young people? What can we do to improve their living conditions, health and development opportunities again? What is the situation in other countries, such as Lebanon? A country that is struggling with other serious problems in addition to the pandemic? All these and many other questions were explored from June 4 to 6, 2021, at the 9th Annual Emergency Pedagogical Conference, which was held this year under the title "The Corona Crisis - Risks and Opportunities for Children and Adolescents" both at the Parzival Center in Karlsruhe and online via live broadcast. In this way, content from lectures and workshops was made accessible to a broad international audience. All presentations were simultaneously translated into English and Spanish and the workshops were held in different languages with subtitles. About 800 participants* from all over the world followed the event via the screen, while on site about 40 participants* were able to actively participate in the event.

After a general introduction to emergency pedagogy by Lukas Mall, Bernd Ruf dealt in more detail with the risks and opportunities of the Corona crisis for children and young people. He talked about how the pandemic has dramatically changed the daily lives of many people. Many are unsettled and frightened. The collective traumatization can also have lasting biographical and social consequences, especially for children and young people. Already, national and international studies show that the often traumatic experiences of the Corona Crisis have a lasting impact on the psychosocial development of many children and adolescents. Emergency and trauma education can help them through this crisis.

"Anxiety has reached the youngest, schoolchildren are lonely at the computer and adolescents lack optimistic perspectives," says Karin Michael, MD. In her lecture, the senior physician at the pediatric outpatient clinic at the Herdecke Community Hospital addressed the question of how the youngest can be better protected, and in the process she outlined interesting approaches to solving the problem.

On Saturday, Dr. med. Milan Meder opened the round of lectures. As a specialist in child and adolescent psychiatry & psychotherapy as well as social medicine, he is confronted with how massive attachment and relationship disorders, complete derailment of body weight and clinical pictures such as ADHD and autism, disturbed day/night rhythms and suicidality versus aggression are drastically increasing. His presentation explored how to bring healing through therapeutic and emergency educational approaches.
Talking about the constant challenges of pandemic times, economic crisis and survival after the explosion in Beirut port, Dr. Reem N. Mouawad. She is the president and principal of Step Together Association, a nonprofit organization for children and adults with special needs and a lecturer in special education, as well as an international expert in special education.

In addition, emergency and trauma educator Reinaldo Nascimento from Brazil gave an impressive account of emergency educational missions during the pandemic and of the difficult situation on the ground. Brazil, like many other countries, is also struggling with other serious problems and has been hit particularly hard by the virus.

Finally, Dr. med. Christian Schopper, specialist in neurology, psychotherapy and psychiatry, showed in his lecture how healing is possible by reflecting on the essence of the human being, how this can be done through pedagogy and how prognosis and resilience criteria are constructed. 

Finally, Sunday started with Prof. Dr. Tomáš Zdrazil, lecturer for anthroposophical-anthropological foundations of Waldorf education at the Freie Hochschule Stuttgart. Among other things, he explored the question of which aspects and steps seem essential with regard to the well-being of the child from the point of view of an anthroposophical understanding of health, and what tasks the school has today with regard to strengthening and promoting the healthy development of its students.

A wide range of workshops complemented the conference program between the lectures on the weekend and made it possible for the practical methods of emergency education to be tried out and experienced. Exercises to strengthen the mental and spiritual immune system, emotion regulation and impulse control as well as offers from the artistic field were on the program. The participants gained insights into sculpting with clay, poetry therapy and storytelling. Interesting insights were also given by a firefighter from Argentina, who told about the fierce fires in Patagonia and his work.

We would like to thank the speakers and workshop leaders as well as all participants and look forward to the next annual conference with optimism and joyful anticipation.

War, Ruins, Traumata – Emergency Pedagogy – More than Methods 2017

With the sponsorship of Dr. Gerd Müller, federal minister for economic cooperation and development, the fifth emergency pedagogy annual conference of the Friends of Waldorf Education took place from May 26th to 29th in Karlsruhe. The conference was held in cooperation with the Medical Section at the Goetheanum, the Mahle-Foundation and the IONA-Foundation and with support from Aktion Deutschland Hilft. During the conference, the ten year anniversary of the founding of emergency pedagogy was celebrated.

Around 150 participants came together on the premises of the Parzival Centre under the motto “War-Flight-Trauma: Traumata caused by war and forced migration and helpful emergency pedagogy intervention methods”, to concentrate on how flight caused traumata develop and their ability to influence the development of children and adolescents. Exciting lectures conveyed scientific background and theoretical foundations; in workshops practical methods and tips for day-to-day work were passed on.
Just like at emergency pedagogy missions, every day opened with a morning circle and was ended together in a closing circle.

Ceremony and Conference Opening:


The start of the conference was celebrated at the opening ceremony on Thursday. After a musical introduction, Bernd Ruf managing director at the Friends of Waldorf Education, greeted the attendees and reflected on the past ten years of emergency pedagogy with a moving slide show. Next Melanie Reveriego, school director of the Parzival-Centre, welcomed the guests to the school. Dr. Martin Lenz, mayor of the city of Karlsruhe, Claus Peter Röh, director of the Pedagogical Section at the Goetheanum, and Nasreen Bawari, country representative of Kurdistan Iraq also greeted the listeners.
With songs from Pakistan and Afghanistan, which were recited by adolescents from the Parzival-Youth Welfare Services, the ceremony continued. After a touching solo, voices arose, there was clapping and dancing and the opening ceremony was given a worthy close.
With his lecture “War—Flight Trauma—Emergency Pedagogy”, Bernd Ruf opened the professional part of the conference that afternoon. In the evening, local colleagues reported about their work and projects in Northern Iraq and Kenya.

Background and Foundation: Lectures

Friday began with the much anticipated lecture from Kilian Kleinschmidt. The international network and humanitarian expert spoke about “Human worth, Individualism
and Community During the Flight”. In the afternoon, Prof. Dr. Harald Karutz, director of the Emergency Pedagogy Institute in Essen, covered the scientific aspects of emergency pedagogy aid for “children in emergencies”. The evening was once again focused on work abroad, with reports from the Philippines and Ecuador.

With his lecture “Between chaos and pulse” Dr. Martin Straube explained on Saturday morning how important rhythm in the human organism is, what happens when this is disrupted by a trauma, and how it can help with overcoming a trauma. In the evening, Dr. Christian Schooper spoke in “Posttraumatic Growth” about trauma as chance for inner growth.
After the closing lecture about spiritual aspects of emergency pedagogy in Bernd Ruf’s “From the Red Cross to the Rose Cross”, further international colleagues reported on Sunday from their work in
Columbia and Chile.

Implementing Emergency Pedagogy: Workshops & World café

In diverse workshops, participants had the opportunity on Friday and Saturday to implement their acquired knowledge in practice and to themselves try out and learn about various emergency pedagogy methods. The spectrum of the offerings ranged from movement forms like experiential pedagogy and eurhythmy to theraputical methods like form drawing and sculpting to healing story telling, preschool pedagogy, and animal supported therapy. Discussion groups with topics such as mental hygiene, youth welfare services, and understanding trauma offered an additional opportunity to delve deeper into what was already heard in the lectures.

For the first time, a world café was held this year on Saturday afternoon. Here participants had the opportunity to present their projects, find support and new ideas, ask questions, and exchange experiences. They also had the opportunity here to speak to colleagues in the emergency pedagogy department, and inform themselves about the possibility of taking part in a mission with the Friends of Waldorf Education.
Breaks and shared meals offered a further chance to get to know one another.

Retrospective: War - Flight - Trauma 2016

With the sponsorship of Dr. Gerd Müller, federal minister for economic cooperation and development, the fifth emergency pedagogy annual conference of the Friends of Waldorf Education took place from May 26th to 29th in Karlsruhe. The conference was held in cooperation with the Medical Section at the Goetheanum, the Mahle-Foundation and the IONA-Foundation and with support from Aktion Deutschland Hilft. During the conference, the ten year anniversary of the founding of emergency pedagogy was celebrated.

Around 150 participants came together on the premises of the Parzival Centre under the motto “War-Flight-Trauma: Traumata caused by war and forced migration and helpful emergency pedagogy intervention methods”, to concentrate on how flight caused traumata develop and their ability to influence the development of children and adolescents. Exciting lectures conveyed scientific background and theoretical foundations; in workshops practical methods and tips for day-to-day work were passed on.
Just like at emergency pedagogy missions, every day opened with a morning circle and was ended together in a closing circle.

Ceremony and Conference Opening:


The start of the conference was celebrated at the opening ceremony on Thursday. After a musical introduction, Bernd Ruf managing director at the Friends of Waldorf Education, greeted the attendees and reflected on the past ten years of emergency pedagogy with a moving slide show. Next Melanie Reveriego, school director of the Parzival-Centre, welcomed the guests to the school. Dr. Martin Lenz, mayor of the city of Karlsruhe, Claus Peter Röh, director of the Pedagogical Section at the Goetheanum, and Nasreen Bawari, country representative of Kurdistan Iraq also greeted the listeners.
With songs from Pakistan and Afghanistan, which were recited by adolescents from the Parzival-Youth Welfare Services, the ceremony continued. After a touching solo, voices arose, there was clapping and dancing and the opening ceremony was given a worthy close.
With his lecture “War—Flight Trauma—Emergency Pedagogy”, Bernd Ruf opened the professional part of the conference that afternoon. In the evening, local colleagues reported about their work and projects in Northern Iraq and Kenya.

Background and Foundation: Lectures

Friday began with the much anticipated lecture from Kilian Kleinschmidt. The international network and humanitarian expert spoke about “Human worth, Individualism
and Community During the Flight”. In the afternoon, Prof. Dr. Harald Karutz, director of the Emergency Pedagogy Institute in Essen, covered the scientific aspects of emergency pedagogy aid for “children in emergencies”. The evening was once again focused on work abroad, with reports from the Philippines and Ecuador.

With his lecture “Between chaos and pulse” Dr. Martin Straube explained on Saturday morning how important rhythm in the human organism is, what happens when this is disrupted by a trauma, and how it can help with overcoming a trauma. In the evening, Dr. Christian Schooper spoke in “Posttraumatic Growth” about trauma as chance for inner growth.
After the closing lecture about spiritual aspects of emergency pedagogy in Bernd Ruf’s “From the Red Cross to the Rose Cross”, further international colleagues reported on Sunday from their work in
Columbia and Chile.

Implementing Emergency Pedagogy: Workshops & World café

In diverse workshops, participants had the opportunity on Friday and Saturday to implement their acquired knowledge in practice and to themselves try out and learn about various emergency pedagogy methods. The spectrum of the offerings ranged from movement forms like experiential pedagogy and eurhythmy to theraputical methods like form drawing and sculpting to healing story telling, preschool pedagogy, and animal supported therapy. Discussion groups with topics such as mental hygiene, youth welfare services, and understanding trauma offered an additional opportunity to delve deeper into what was already heard in the lectures.

For the first time, a world café was held this year on Saturday afternoon. Here participants had the opportunity to present their projects, find support and new ideas, ask questions, and exchange experiences. They also had the opportunity here to speak to colleagues in the emergency pedagogy department, and inform themselves about the possibility of taking part in a mission with the Friends of Waldorf Education.
Breaks and shared meals offered a further chance to get to know one another.

Retrospective: Flight-Trauma-School 2015

Under the heading “Flight—Trauma—School” the first continuing education offering specifically for teachers and aid workers working with refugees from the Friends of Waldorf Education took place on the weekend. The seminar was held in cooperation with the Parzival School Centre in Karlsruhe.

At the centre of the two day event at the Parzival School Centre was the question of how emergency pedagogy can support the integration of underage refugees in school. The event hosts, the Parzival School Centre Karlsruhe and the Friends of Waldorf Education have already years of experience working with traumatised children. The emergency pedagogy department of the Friends of Waldorf Education has been organising psychosocial aid for traumatised children and adolescence in crisis and catastrophe regions since 2006. For this, Waldorf pedagogical methods and related therapy forms are implemented in order to support the processing of experiences. The Parzival School Centre has been working according to the same principles with traumatised children in Germany and since autumn 2014 also in five refugee classes with unaccompanied underage refugees.

Over 180 pedagogues, aid workers, and interested persons from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland met in Karlsruhe from October 31st to November 1st in order to learn from these experiences. In lectures, workshops, and discussion groups, escape traumata, mental hygiene for aid workers, and emergency pedagogical methods were addressed. An appropriate pedagogical-therapeutic aid for traumatised refugee children can be essential support in their integration into school and their new surroundings.

Flight trauma, emergency pedagogy, and mental hygiene

With a speech about flight traumata in children, Bernd Ruf, director of the Parzival School Centre and founder of the Friends of Waldorf Education’s emergency pedagogy, opened the conference. In his commentary there was room for both findings in psychotraumatology and neurobiological aspects as well as personal anecdotes about the emergency pedagogical work with children during various missions and at the school. In another speech on Sunday, Bernd Ruf spoke concretely of the school’s roll in the inclusion of traumatised refugee children. The school as protection centre can act like a bandage on the psychical wounds of children. Here offering children stable relationships is central. With them children can again find new trust in themselves and others.
In his contribution about mental hygiene and dealing with stress affecting aid workers, Dr. Christian Schooper highlighted the meaning of music for emotional well being. Dr. Schopper recommended to the participates, that they analyse their own personal experiences and the meaning of escape stories in their own families. As a specialist for neurology, psychotherapy, and psychiatry, and the head doctor of the Psychosomatic Clinic Sonneneck, he has years of experience in working with traumatised people.  
Lukas Mall, coordinator for emergency pedagogy at the Friends of Waldorf Education, described how emergency pedagogy can concretely help in the early phases of traumatisation. As mission leader he arrived back from an emergency pedagogical mission on the Greek Island of Lesbos in Germany just a day before the lecture and could report impressively from his experiences on site.
Siri Hauser reported about the emergency pedagogical work of the Friends of Waldorf Education in refugee camps in northern Iraq using a slideshow presentation.

Applying Emergency Pedagogy

In various workshops, the participates could concretely get to know and try out emergency pedagogical methods. Amongst others units in experiential pedagogy, art therapy, form drawing, and eurhythmy were offered. These methods are regularly implemented during emergency pedagogy interventions. Pedagogues of the Parzival School introduced further methods, which can help to stabilise traumatised children, like music theraputical offerings, chiro-phonetics (Chirophonetik), and animal assisted therapy.

In addition to lectures and workshops, discussion groups offered the opportunity for dialogue with emergency pedagogy experts about individual topic areas and to get to know one another. Many of the seminar participates had already had experiences working with traumatised refugees as aid workers, teachers, or preschool teachers. The open groups could offer in addition to concrete exchange time for personal networking.

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