Forfar man’s fact-finding Finland visit

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Forfar resident and former Angus councillor Ron Scrimgeour has returned from a one week fact finding trip and international conference in Finland.

Mr Scrimgeour is the chairman of the Board of Directors of Ochil Tower School in Auchterarder, a Rudolf Steiner school which specialises in the care and education of children with complex and acute support needs.

Steiner schools and villages are part of the Camphill movement, named after the first community established at Camphill near Milltimber, Aberdeen, by European Christian refugees in 1939 under the leadership of Austrian paediatrician Dr Karl König

The Steiner methodology focuses on the uniqueness of each child and provides appropriate and integrated learning experiences matched to the three developmental stages of childhood.

All learning experiences are related to the academic, emotional and physical development of the child with multiple special needs.

The international conference of Steiner practitioners was held in Sylvia Koti School, a Camphill Community in the town of Lahti, a hundred kilometres north of Helsinki. The school hosted over 100 delegates from 20 countries as far afield as the United States and South Africa.

Mr Scrimgeour commented, “Although we came from many different cultures and backgrounds, there was instant recognition of a common approach to the therapeutic needs of children and young adults across the four continents represented.”

Following the conference, Mr Scrimgeour visited two other Camphill villages in central Finland, both catering for adults and run along the lines developed by Karl König from Rudolf Steiner’s writings and teachings.

Mr Scrimgeour, who is currently the Deacon of the Weaver Incorporation of Dundee said: “I was particularly impressed by the use of weaving as a therapeutic medium for children and adults with special needs.

“Weaving was a very important activity for Finnish people and the loom occupied a central place in the living areas of homes in the remote areas.

“Children and young adults benefit from the movements involved in handloom weaving, the concentration needed to complete even a simple piece of work and are greatly influenced by the colours used to produce each unique pattern.

“Interestingly, I spent several hours weaving during each of three days and can testify to the benefits of it for manual coordination, mental concentration and visual accuracy.

“Interestingly, Dundee Weavers have recently purchased two handlooms to be used in local schools so it was reassuring to see that we were on the right lines when we thought that the old crafts still have a place in modern education and therapy.”

Mr Scrimgeour will make a presentation and produce a detailed report for fellow directors at the start of the new school year at Ochil Tower in August.