“Children and young people should be given the chance to develop all their interests and talents, whether they are scientific and technological or artistic and spiritual,” says dr Michaela Glöckler, president of Eliant, a Goetheanum partner organization.
The Goetheanum is the headquarters of the School of Spiritual Science and the world centre for the anthroposophical movement. The building was designed by Rudolf Steiner, the founding father of anthroposophy. Located in Switzerland, the organisation is active worldwide in research, development, teaching, and the practical implementation of its research findings.
As a pediatrician, Glöckler says in an intervew that “All-round healthy maturation is a prerequisite for empathic participation and social responsibility in later life. These specifically human qualities are vital for mastering the big ecological, economic-political and social challenges that lie ahead.” She is convinced that it is essential to base education on values such as dignity and freedom.
"How people use their abilities professionally and privately, and what they thereby achieve in social coexistence, depends primarily on their ethical-moral attitude to life. This also shapes the way they deal with nature and technology and the way they take political responsibility.”
If children are treated like objects that are supposed to function and adapt, sooner or later democracy will also be threatened and at risk of giving way to a digitalized surveillance state.
She explains that anthroposophy literally means the science or wisdom of the human being. This includes all the development potential of the human being - in material and technical terms, but also with regard to the dimensions of body/nutrition, soul and spiritual needs.
Applied anthroposophy is always and everywhere concerned with supporting human development - in individual but also in social terms, she explains. In most EU member states there are smaller or larger anthroposophic initiatives in the fields of business, education, social and curative education, medicine and agriculture.
As president of Eliant (the European Alliance of Initiatives for Applied Anthroposophy), Michaela Glöckler and her team have proposed ideas to the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE). She told The Brussels Times that Eliant sees CoFoE as an opportunity to involve civil society more closely in the EU.
“Due to European history and the development of the ideals of human dignity, freedom, solidarity and brotherhood, we see the practical realisation of these ideals as well as an important cultural contribution for the developing Europe. It might even have a positive impact on the global community of states.”
Out of this we focus for example on the preservation of cultural diversity and freedom of choice, which are threatened due to bureaucratic hurdles, she added.
In your message, you underline the values of dignity and freedom. Can you give a few examples how these values are threatened today in the EU?
“For example, as a result of the EU vitamin regulation, Demeter International (an organisation for certification of biodynamic farming) has been deprived of the possibility to produce baby food without artificial vitamin additives, although Demeter cereals contain sufficient B-group vitamins due to their high quality,” she replied. Eliant was founded in 2006 in response to the EU vitamin regulation.
The recommended guideline value in the regulation is above what nature can provide. The response of the authorities was that no exception could be made. “For us, with this decision a red line has been crossed with regard to the incapacitation of consumers and the imposition of a certain point of view, even though there are scientific studies that also speak for the opposite position.”
Another example is the digitalisation in kindergartens and primary schools. “This doesn’t take into account that screen time is lost development time for the body in the process of formation and especially for the brain, for which self-activity and coordinated movements are the best physiological stimulation, as children love to do in free play and artistic activities.
The coronavirus crisis has hit especially the school system, forcing many schools to close down or turn to on-line and remote teaching. How did the crisis affect the Steiner and Waldorf schools?
“The Steiner and Waldorf schools have strictly adhered to the official guidelines,” she replied. “This meant that many things typical of the schools could no longer be carried out, especially in the area of music and the arts and avoiding screen time in kindergarten and primary school.”
“But it was met with a great deal of commitment, imagination and a multitude of initiatives outdoor and in small groups. Of course, this was always strongly dependent on the available resources and the local conditions.”
Another question is the vaccination of children against COVID-19. The European Medicines Agency recommended in November last year that the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 should be approved. Its human medicines committee had concluded that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks, particularly for those with conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19.
As previously reported, slightly more than 30,000 children aged five to 11 in Belgium have received the first dose of Pfizer’s adjusted coronavirus vaccine since the vaccination of this age group was approved in December. The majority, ca 28,000 live in Flanders, followed by ca 2,000 in Brussels. In Wallonia, only a few hundred children have been vaccinated until now.
As former head of the Medical Section at the Goetheanum, what is your opinion on vaccination of children and should it be done in the schools, with the parents’ permission?
“The positive effect of vaccination in protecting against severe disease is undisputed,” she replied. “However, since the vaccination doesn’t prevent infection, but to a high degree severe illness with possible fatal consequences, I don’t see children as a target group. It has been proven that they don’t have to reckon with a severe illness and that possible complications are extremely rare.”
“Therefore, the argument that they can also infect adults doesn’t weigh in my favour. After all, the long-term effects of the new mRNA technique on the still-developing immune system aren’t known. Children and adolescents still have their whole lives ahead of them. Adults, on the other hand, are able to protect themselves and should be protected, especially if they belong to vulnerable groups.”
The Brussels Times