Discovering Camphill

New Perspectives, Research and Developments

Edited by Robin Jackson; Foreword by Andrew Kendrick

Available (printed to order)

Quick Look

  • Scholars and experts from around the world offer new perspectives of Camphill
  • 'This book, easily readable and well presented for the curious, offers some fascinating perspectives on a phenomena of caring about which, I suspect, many of us have known little.' Dr Thomas Garfat, Editor of Relational Child and Youth Care Practice journal
  • Discovering Camphill is essential reading for anyone interested in the provision of services for those with special needs

An important book which brings together research from scholars and experts in a variety of disciplines to explore a broad range of issues which affect Camphill life.

234 x 156 mm
Floris Books
Special Needs Education; Steiner-Waldorf Education
336 pages
Publication date:
21 Apr 2011


This important book brings together research from scholars and experts in a variety of disciplines to explore a broad range of issues which affect Camphill life. The essays examine social, political and educational topics as diverse as spiritual needs, residential childcare, disabled identity, working with autistic children and the development of Camphill communities around the world.

The lack of easily accessible literature about Camphill communities has contributed to a common and unjustified perception of Camphill as 'closed' communities which have little interest in communicating with the 'the outside world'. Some influential officials and practitioners who determine education and social-work policy and practice still know little or nothing about Camphill, which increases the risk of misunderstanding and threatens the future of Camphill communities. This book seeks not only to bridge that gap, but to demonstrate to a wider audience the unique and inspiring qualities of Camphill communities.

This book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the provision of services for children and adults with special needs.

Table of Contents

Introduction: ROBIN JACKSON
1. Negotiating the Twentieth Century: A Historical Analysis of Camphill Communities
2. The Power of Organisational Myth: A Case Study
3. Sensing the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary
4. On Middle Ground: Camphill Practices that Touch the World
5. Creative Living: Inside a Community for Children with Autism
6. Camphill: Children, Childhood and Disabled Identity
7. Whaur Extremes Meet: Camphill in the Context of Residential Childcare in Scotland
8. Social Pedagogy: Past, Present and Future
9. The Development of the BA in Social Pedagogy
10. Camphill Village Communities in Norway
11. Camphill in South Africa: A Narrative
12. Healing and Transformation in Vietnam: The Peaceful Bamboo Family, Tinh Truc Gia
13. Eco-communities: An Eco-history of Camphill
14. Quality of Life: Dimensions, Perceptions and Practice
15. The Challenges Facing Camphill: An Internal Perspective
16. Camphill: Further Notes from the Boundary


'Before reading this book, I thought I knew Camphill. Now that I have read it, I realise how much my thinking was in error, based as it was on what one of the authors calls the 'myths of Camphill and its founder'. This book, easily readable and well presented for the curious, offers some fascinating perspectives on a phenomena of caring about which, I suspect, many of us have known little. It bridges effectively the gap between Camphill and the 'outside world', a gap which has been of concern to supporters and critics alike over the past years. Here we find a window into a world of caring in which many of the contemporary values of child and youth care practice have been in evidence from the initial founding. To treat each person individually, to live together in a caring relationship of mutual trust, to be aware of self -- all of these stand out as not only a bridge between Camphill and the outside world, but between the past and the present in the practice of caring. As Social Pedagogy becomes of greater interest, this book has much to offer.'
-- Dr Thomas Garfat, child and youth care worker, and Editor of Relational Child and Youth Care Practice journal

'This is a remarkable book. Rarely does one find a program of any kind willing to open itself up to such intensive internal and external critical examination. Through the wide-ranging perspectives presented, the reader will indeed "discover Camphill", and find it to be an impressive global movement in support of the integrity of persons and the wholeness of human life.'
-- James P. Anglin, PhD, Professor of School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria, Canada

'This is a deeply impressive collection -- impressive in its scope and depth, its worldwide coverage and its inter-disciplinary range. But most of all what is impressive is the enduring humanity and compassionate engagement of the Camphill approach, which these authors so movingly describe, analyse and evaluate. Thoroughly recommended!'
-- Adrian Ward, Consultant Social Worker, Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust, London

'The book achieves its two principal aims: one is to report on the findings of research on several Camphill communities; the other is to discuss societal trends which are likely to impact on the future of the Camphill movement... The contributors are refreshingly frank about the mistakes of the past and the challenges facing the movement in the future. They also convey very well what is inspiring about the Camphill movement.'
-- Mike Gibson, Times Educational Supplement Scotland

'Robin Jackson, to his great credit, has brought together some illuminating thesis work, research projects and Camphill stories, not just in Scotland but throughout the world, to illustrate the work and worth and bring out the significance of the now 70-year-old Camphill Movement.'
-- Vivian Griffiths, New View

'A highly recommended read, as much for critics of village communities as those with a general interest in the history and ideas surrounding people with learning disabilities.'
--Simon Jarret, British Journal of Learning Disabilities

'For those interested in the care and education of children and adults with special needs, this is a fascinating story of the evolution of the Camphill Communities born from the seeds of pre-war Nazism.
Whilst this is a collection of essays which essentially attempts to enlighten readers about the history and breadth of work of Camphill (which now spans seven countries), the work also offers a fascinating insight into the history of the movement.'
-- Lynne McNeil, Life & Work

'This book marks a much-needed step in Camphill emerging into the bright light of public scrutiny.'
-- Bob Clay, Camphill Correspondence

'Discovering Camphill is a thought provoking account of Camphill's roots, beliefs, practices and evolution...All the chapters warrant reading, but it is the sections dealing with Camphill's approach to caring for and educating children with SEND that will particularly interest Special Children readers.'
-- Diane Crew, Special Children

'this book gives a thorough and descriptive explanation of what Camphill stands for and actually does. The model fits well with residential care philosophies and can be a helpful additional perspective for administrators and policy makers as we continue to expand our understanding of how to develop useful ideas about residential care.'
-- Jack Phelan, Relational Child and Youth Care Practice Journal


Robin Jackson was a lecturer at Aberdeen College of Education before becoming Principal Lecturer in Special Education at King Alfred's College, Winchester and Principal of Linn Moor Special School in Aberdeen. He has worked with Camphill for many years, including as a Development and Training Co-ordinator, and is currently a consultant to Camphill Rudolf Steiner Schools in Aberdeen. He edited Holistic Special Education: Camphill Principles and Practice (2006) and wrote Hermann Gross: Art and Soul (2008), both published by Floris Books.


More indepth looks at these remarkable communities:
The Lives of Camphill edited by Johannes Surkamp
The Builders of Camphill: Lives and Destinies of the Founders edited by Friedwart Bock
Holistic Special Education: Camphill Principles and Practice edited by Robin Jackson
A Portrait of Camphill: From Founding Seed to Worldwide Movement edited by Jan Martin Bang

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