For Diana


From: eyecueco
Date: Tue Feb 10, 2004 10:58 pm
Subject: For Diana

I have been reading Diana's posting on WC and wish to reply here as I am not subscribed to WC, nor do I have her e-mail address

DearDiana,

I think the reason you are not finding much via the net on this issue is because most of the work on the brain and handedness was clarified by the neurological reserach giants in the field by the 70s such as Sperry, the Diamonds, Levi, etc. Levi did, imo, the most interesting work on handedness and the Broca Center.I gave values from her work in my earlier post here on handedness.

You might be interested in looking up the work of Patricia Wolfe, an educational guru who is focusing on translating the brain research into classroom practice. She is invovled with the Assoc. for Supervision and Curriculum Dev. in Alex, Va. and has a book, "BRAIN MATTERS", and conducts workshops around the coutnry. However, even she book doesn't get into handedness. In the field of brain research there appears to have been a concensus reached long ago that it is no longer appropriate to try and turn a lefty into a righty.

I am posting below a current, and interesting report out of Munich (makes me wonder if the issue on handedness is,perhaps, still being debated in Europe?)

Before I do, I need to say that I am in a unique situation on this matter of handedness in that I am a public school teacher, not Waldorf trained. I have a double major in studio art and eduation and a minor in remedial reading.

My perspective is different than anyone else on AT because:

1. I worked in inner-city schools 7-12 for decades

2. I am a Skinnerian and totally and competely into behavior modification when it comes to classroom management. (I find what Mark has said over on WC in regard to chaos to be totally idiotic. One cannot teach anything without first establishing order.)

3. Borrowed and adapted a number of Waldorf monograms into my curriculum.

I in no way agree with others here that WE does not belong in public ed. I think just the opposite because my personal experience in intergrating what I could into my curriculum from Waldorf enriched my program and proved to be both beneficial and very well received by my students. I can't imagine my curriculum without von Baravalle geometry integerated into my Art History units, for example.

Additionally, while I do not support the changing of handeness, I must say that WE is the only system of ed that has an awareness of body geography, and given that over the years every single one of my LD and BD students demonstrated problems arising fromwhat WE terms crossed body geography it was only from what I studied on my own of WE that I was able to give these kids a certain amount of assistance. If nothing else, if only a consciousness of body geography could be infused into the traning of the special ed teachers in public schools systems so many children could be helped, and early on when it would do some good.

If a child is a lefty but has crossed body geography it is another matter entirely than that of trying to change a lefty to a righty. WE, especially the remedial work of Audrey McAllen offers something that cannot yet be found in the public system and it breaks my heart to see what happens to so many of the disabled kids who could be so easily helped by what WE has to offer.

There is also a solid argument to be made for teaching history via the mythologies, but time and space does not allow for the secular argument that can be made for this.

On the the article I wished to share with you on handedness from the Munich group...

Sincerely,
Paulina

Primary and Secondary Consequences of Converting Handedness
The following is an © excerpt from a Munich group,
Consulting and Information Center for Left-handers and Converted Left-handers:

"Writing is a process of the greatest complexity. Moreover, because it involves many different brain functions, it is also one of the most difficult tasks; one which only human beings have developed and come to grips with. The pre-dominant use of the non-dominant hand leads to complex functional disturbances, inhibitions, blockages, and an over-burdening of the entire brain. During writing, the greatest variety of cerebral skills are included here. Examples are the fine motor skills, speech, the pictorial representation of imagination of the series of letters as well as the simultaneous chain of thoughts, associations, graphic representations, memories, and recall of previously learned material which also run throughout. Scarcely any other human undertaking is comparable to writing in its multifaceted connections between the most differing brain functions. Accordingly, it is understandable why the overburdening that comes from converting handedness can lead to tremendous disturbances.

The possible primary consequences of converting handedness are as follows: memory disorders (especially in the recall of learned material) disturbances in concentration (being easily tired) legasthenic problems or dyslexia (i.e. problems in reading and writing) spatial disorientation (uncertainty concerning the left and right) disorders in fine motor skills that manifest themselves in handwriting disturbances in speech (ranging from stammering through stuttering) These primary consequences can then transform into various differing secondary consequences: inferiority complexes insecurity introversion overcompensation through heightened performance contrariness; an oppositional and provocational manner; (e.g. the class clown in school; and the persistent, compulsive wise-cracker in adulthood) various distinctive disorders in behavior bedwetting and nail-biting emotional problems lasting into adulthood with neurotic and/or psycho-somatic symptomology disorders in the personality profile

Of course, all of the primary and secondary difficulties listed above could also appear without the converting of handedness and they are just as prevalent in left-handers as in right-handers. However, as has been found in practice, through the additional converting of handedness these difficulties, are incalculably increased.

Thus, the converting of handedness negatively intervenes into and inhibits the course of the cerebral processes. It drives people to continually use more energy to mobilize their intelligence than left-handed or right-handed people who have not been disabled by the consequences of converting would find necessary.

The level of intelligence itself is not diminished. Only its manifestation is disturbed. For example, in the formulation and expression of thoughts, the recall of learned material in writing and speaking, etc., at least thirty percent or more energy is required. This finding has been substantiated by practical experience, observation, and comparison.

In the Consulting Center for Left-handers and Converted Left-handers, an attempt was made to precisely quantify this increased amount of average energy required. In contrast to the many earlier scientific studies, a wide range of data from 4,510 subjects was available for study.

Even today, this data still accumulates throughout the uninterrupted hands-on activity of the Center. Here, whenever possible, entire families are tested along with other available relatives. In addition, the cooperation of the members from the interest group for left-handers was also called upon. Accordingly, large, heterogeneous groups of left-handers, converted left-handers and right-handers, right-handers, and clinical cases were created and precise studies were undertaken. The heterogeneity of the research population was ensured in this way as much as possible.

At first, the relationship between fatigue and the ability to regenerate and concentrate were of interest. The data gathered showed a strong dependency upon physiological variables. Moreover, the hypothetical energy increase of 30% needed by converted left-handers was almost always surpassed. This result become even more significant when the test design was expanded to include factors dependent upon memory, the ability to learn, the storage and the recall of material. In some instances, the values revealed were even twice or three times as great. A direct correlation between the age, gender, health, and personality characteristics of the subjects as well as their intelligence, education, and profession become manifest. Even the time of the testing and ethnicity of the subject were influential. The issue of lateralization of the cerebral hemispheres in connection with the converting of handedness is not manageable within a research project. Instead, in reality, it constitutes its own field of research. For the hands-on work of the Consulting Center, neither exact numerical value nor precise percentage is relevant, however. Rather, the very substantiation of the finding that converted left-handers in comparison to those people who have not been converted continually have larger energy requirements is both necessary and of much greater importance. This finding is also similarly relevant, of course, for converted right-handers .

Methods of Converting Handedness and a Clarification of Terms

The course of events which are subsumed here under the term "converting" can be quite different. There were times when the trait of left-handedness was beaten right out of children as a rule. Striking the left hand, binding it to the body, or as was often the case, tying it to a chair or a table, forced children to write with their non-dominant right hand. There have even been cases in which doctors have reportedly encased the left hand of children in plaster. No less drastic were the methods which relied upon the berating, punishing and/or the withdrawing of affection, toys, or rewards for successes achieved in other areas.

Just as bad, however, are the so-called " soft methods "of converting handedness where instead of utilizing corporal punishment or control, either a system of reward or cajoling with arguments tainted with moral overtones is used. "Soft" psychological terrorization, is still terrorization. Children have a natural need for love and attention. Many are very easily influenced by the withdrawal of attention and love. There are parents, who cajole their children into using their right hand with fantastic presents. For example, a child is given a semi-precious gem in one hand, while being made to write with the right hand. The child is then allowed to keep the gem if the child continues to practice diligently with the right hand.

And then there are children who convert themselves over to the right hand so that they can be better accepted into the right -handed society . This is especially true of sensitive, bright, strong-willed and intelligent children. Such children often demonstrate a strong propensity for copying the behavior of others. They want to be just like all of the other children. They don't want to stand out. They want to integrate themselves naturally and casually. They long for attention, acceptance, and recognition. (See Chapter 7.3.2, section: "I don't wanna be a left- hander!" The Insidiousness and Meaning of Modeled Behavior.)

Irrespective of whether the method of converting is "gentle" or punitive, the functioning of the brain is affected in any case and the result has negative consequences with overwhelming regularity. Just how great these effects are, depends upon other factors. Among these, talents, unique personality characteristics, and the supports available to the child are the most influential. Such factors help determine whether the child persists and completes school and training without massive disturbances. Or, as is more often the case with left-handed children who have been converted, the children will drag themselves through school and life. Often forced to repeat grades, and sometimes fall so far behind that they are either placed in special schools or drop-out. Others, finding other routes of education, cram, slave, and cram again while they continue doubt their own intelligence and try to compensate for their difficulties with hard-work.

The term "converting" will be used also for those left-handed children who convert themselves or in cases where the process of converting took place so early in either the parent's home or kindergarten that the children arrive in school as "right-handers".

Incidentally, for those children who fall into the latter case, the term "pseudo right-handers" was formerly used. This term stressed above all the fact that a change of handedness by converting the motor pathways is only somewhat possible (i.e. pseudo). The dominance in the brain is not changed. The person only partly behaves as a right-hander. Therefore, while writing is done primarily with the right hand, other activities which require precision and power, for example drawing and painting, are still performed with the dominant left hand.

In the American literature a term which makes more clear the consequences of converting is used. "Brain-breaking" as it is often referred to, characterizes the drastic set of events which occur in the brain much more clearly than the terms "changing over", "converting", "re-educating", or "reversing" handedness. (Sattler, Johanna Barbara, The Converted Left-Hander or the "Knot" in the Brain . In German: Der umgeschulte Linkshänder oder Der Knoten im Gehirn. Auer Verlag, Donauwörth, 1995. 5. Auflage 1999).

© Copyright: Consulting and Information Center for Left-handers and Converted Left-handers (Erste deutsche Beratungs- und Informationsstelle für Linkshänder und umgeschulte Linkshänder) Sendlinger Str. 17, D - 80331 Munich (München), Germany

...................................................................................................................................

From: Mike Helsher
Date: Wed Feb 11, 2004 7:16 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] For Diana

Paulina writes:

I in no way agree with others here that WE does not belong in public ed. I think just the opposite because my personal experience in intergrating what I could into my curriculum from Waldorf enriched my program and proved to be both beneficial and very well received by my students. I can't imagine my curriculum without von Baravalle geometry integerated into my Art History units, for example.

Mike:

This is nice to here. I would like to spout off my personal opinion based on Jeffersonian style separation of religion and state, but being at or below the poverty level, having a difficult aversion to working for money in our corporate world, and having paid tuition at a private Waldorf school for the last two years, has altered my opinion considerably as of late. So much so that we are checking into a Waldorf inspired charter school. Our daughter has benefited immensely from her Waldorf experience thus far, and we want this to continue, but the financial struggle has taken a toll on us as a family.

I much appreciate your personal experience Paulina. It shows that integrating the methods can indeed be helpful, and you don't have to become some kind of lofty spiritual ideologue, floating on a cloud of zeal to do it (a justifiable criticism I think).

Paulina:

Additionally, while I do not support the changing of handeness, I must say that WE is the only system of ed that has an awareness of body geography, and given that over the years every single one of my LD and BD students demonstrated problems arising fromwhat WE terms crossed body geography it was only from what I studied on my own of WE that I was able to give these kids a certain amount of assistance. If nothing else, if only a consciousness of body geography could be infused into the traning of the special ed teachers in public schools systems so many children could be helped, and early on when it would do some good.

Mike:

Our daughter had a problem with crossing over from left to right and it showed up repeatedly in her form-drawings. She was very insecure about this, especially in light of the fact that it was relatively new to her, and the rest of the class had been doing them since the first grade (She started in grade four). Last year a women who's last name is Ross (I think) came to our school and did an evaluation on her (I can't remember her field right now, but it i think it had to do with left/right brain function in relation to her physical coordination). She recommended allot of exercises that really helped Jessie to eventually create beautiful form-drawings, as well as play hop-scotch, and jump rope while crossing her hands. She feels much better about herself and her art-work now. I am grateful for this kind of attention to my child's needs. I can't right a scientific paper on it, but I can see the results.

Thanks for the wonderfully informed post.

Truth and Love

Mike

...................................................................................................................................

From: Frank Thomas Smith
Date: Wed Feb 11, 2004 8:27 am
Subject: RE: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] For Diana

Paulina wrote:

I in no way agree with others here that WE does not belong in public ed. I think just the opposite because my personal experience in intergrating what I could into my curriculum from Waldorf enriched my program and proved to be both beneficial and very well received by my students. I can't imagine my curriculum without von Baravalle geometry integerated into my Art History units, for example.

I'm glad someone finally said this, because I wouldn't want to have to take on Christine alone. I may be far away but nowadays not even distance isn't adequate protection ;=)

I think we have to differentiate between a "Waldorf School" and Waldorf educational aspects being used in public schools. IMO W-schools are, or should be, models for education in general. If we assume that Waldorf is the best educational method around, then why should it be limited to a select minority who can afford it? If a public school, or system (or in the U.S. charter schools), decides to use certain aspects of WE, how can it be anything but beneficial. In fact, this may be the main raison d'etre of Waldorf education as such: to transform the education of the world.

Frank

...................................................................................................................................

From: golden3000997
Date: Wed Feb 11, 2004 3:52 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] For Diana

In a message dated 2/11/2004 12:31:50 PM Eastern Standard Time, franksmith writes:

I think we have to differentiate between a "Waldorf School" and Waldorf educational aspects being used in public schools. IMO W-schools are, or should be, models for education in general. If we assume that Waldorf is the best educational method around, then why should it be limited to a select minority who can afford it? If a public school, or system (or in the U.S. charter schools), decides to use certain aspects of WE, how can it be anything but beneficial. In fact, this may be the main raison d'etre of Waldorf education as such: to transform the education of the world.

Frank

Hello Frank,

There is a very great difference between using "Waldorf techniques" or "Waldorf methods" in a public school setting and trying to establish an entire school based on Waldorf Education within the public school system here in the United States.

Also, I never said that "...it should be limited to a select minority who can afford it." I have a very long and full article posted in this groups files that I wrote called "Waldorf Economic Proposal." In which I clearly explain at length what I have thought out as the right paradigm for the funding of Waldorf Schools in this country and anywhere else in the world. It is extremely radical and I haven't even discussed it with anyone else on the planet yet. No one has even given me feedback about it. Why must there be only two sides to an issue? "Free" education which is state funded and therefore tax funded and therefore definitely not free financially and certainly not free in practice. Or the archaic private school system which reserves the "benefits" of a "better" education (many meanings possible here) for the wealthy, relatively weathly who are willing to make financial sacrifices or the "deserving poor" who qualify for an individual schools "charity" or "scholarship" program?

Not only IS there a third way - but it is the way the first Waldorf School was created and funded and it sets the paradigm that, as far as I am aware (and I would love to be wrong) has not been implemented fully by a single Waldorf School since Stuttgart.

Your last two statements are the exact statements that set the Waldorf Critics nerves on edge and get them running for the legal hills.

If a public school, or system (or in the U.S. charter schools), decides to use certain aspects of WE, how can it be anything but beneficial. In fact, this may be the main raison d'etre of Waldorf education as such: to transform the education of the world.

..."how can it be anything but beneficial." is a value judgement wide open to criticism and (to a certain extent) justified opposition. Obviously, there are people who feel that there are aspects of Waldorf Education that are a. not beneficial for their own child or children and b. are not beneficial for other people's children as well. They have challenged us to "prove" the benefits that Waldorf Education as an educational philosophy makes claims for and perhaps it is our responsibility to work on establishing those "proofs." But it isn't a two minute proposition, as I have said here extensively already. There are avenues of research, both in the field of educational psychology and in a broader sociological framework that have yet to be activated and the very nature of such research is a question of rather extensive time periods and much time being dedicated to the work.

The last sentence,

....In fact, this may be the main raison d'etre of Waldorf education as such: to transform the education of the world.

Is the real earth-trembler as far as the Waldorf Critics are concerned. They no more want to see Waldorf Education, "transform the education of the world." than they want to see Fundamental Christianity transform the politics of the world. And again, I say for myself that they have some justifiable reasons. Your statement comes much closer to the meaning that was INTERPRETED by my use of the word "mandate" and I wasn't talking about using Waldorf or any other educational philosophy to invoke change. I was "perhaps"ing that in a far future, Waldorf Education would be adopted by the society at large as a RESULT of changes within it that originate elsewhere.

Now, to try to be very, very clear here (it is so difficult not to be misunderstood) - I PERSONALLY think that:

1. Waldorf Education is POTENTIALLY beneficial for every child who comes into contact with it (sorry for the caps - I've explained that before).

2. Waldorf Education is MOSTLY beneficial for the greater percentage of children who come into contact with it - say, in my opinion, about 90 - 96% - certainly numbers that have no research attached to them and can be debated.

3. Waldorf Education has used and developed principles and practices since 1919 that were in great opposition to many mainstream ideas in European and United States education through say, the fifties and early sixties. We were "earthy-crunchy" long before the hippies burst on the scene. Starting in the sixties and seventies, however, there were relatively larger segments of the general population open to concepts like "whole language", mythology as a valid teaching tool, the "Uses of Enchantment" by Bruno Bettleheim and "The Plug in Drug" by Marie Winn came out; Joseph Campbell became popular; and other "new" movements of thought almost re-invented the wheel we were already riding on. It is my personal opinion that the best minds in the educational psychology field will continue to produce both research and experiential knowledge that will continue to support Waldorf Education methods and practices. It is also my opinion that if the "mainstream" educational psychology researchers were to study Waldorf Education directly, they would find both ideas and practices that have been in effect for almost a century now that would "speed up" their present day research considerably and there would be a great deal of mutual support.

These three opinions of mine based on what I consider a relatively wide reading of educational theories besides Waldorf and what life experience I have had so far, are as fair as I can make them. They allow room for errors - both in theory and in human practice. They allow for fair criticism and challenge. And they allow for open-minded dialogue that may take as its theme Art, Religion, Science or any combination of these motifs.

Christine Natale

Cointinued in the thread "Public Waldorf"

...................................................................................................................................

From: at
Date: Thu Feb 12, 2004 10:46 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] For Diana

The article is interesting. It is essentially a propaganda piece. This is most obvious in some of the phrasing, such as calling incentives to induce switching "soft psychological terrorism" and switching as "brain-breaking". (If all incentives are "soft psychological terrorism" then this has some rather profound implications for various forms of behaviorism.) Even children who spontaneously convert themselves at a young age with no prompting are considered a tragedy.

The entire article presupposes that handedness is fixed in the brain at birth and can never be changed (biology is destiny). Handedness is an either or, black or white, left or right proposition. Any degree of ambidexterity simply does not exist. (This degree of oversimplification is not propitious for the scientific integrity of any further claims.) Any attempt at influencing handedness can only ever have negative consequences, and these negative consequences are detailed at length.

The article is long on claim and short on substantiation. A long list of consequences purportedly resulting from attempts at switching is given: memory, disturbances in concentration legasthenic problems or dyslexia, spatial disorientation, disorders in fine motor skills that manifest themselves in handwriting, and disturbances in speech (ranging from stammering through stuttering). I say "purportedly" because no substantiation for any one of these is offered. From what I understand, there are serious questions about the speech disturbances claim (stuttering), and I would need to examine the studies behind the other claims to speak further on them.

In the very next paragraph it is admitted that, "Of course, all of the primary and secondary difficulties listed above could also appear without the converting of handedness and they are just as prevalent in left-handers as in right-handers." The logical implications of this are not explored. In the end these are simply claims without substantiation.

The actual hard numbers, representing the work of the Institute that is summarized in this article, are derived from one or more sociological studies (the fact that even this cannot be determined says something about the transparency of the Institute's research). The case design and protocols, or even summaries thereof, to say nothing of the raw data, are not available in the article. "A wide range of data from 4,185 subjects was used." (How?) From this it is "concluded" that "at least" 30 percent more "energy" is needed for a person born in the absolute category "left-hander" to function using the right hand. What is this "energy"? Is it kilocalories? Are they measuring brain metabolism? Probably not, since you cannot accurately measure kilocalories by survey. I suspect that it is not a quantifiable form of "energy" but rather and inferred quantity of concentration, probably derived indirectly from task completion-time studies. But without access to the study's protocols and data it is not really possible to understand what the actual claim is. I have a large number of questions, including what the data would look like it were broken down into age groups. Since Rudolf Steiner only recommended interfering with children under the age of 9, I would be curious to know what the data for the under 9-year-old group looks like. Data showing harm to people over nine years of age actually supports Rudolf Steiner's position; he obviously had reasons for not recommending switching after nine years of age.

Like most propaganda, the article is quite effective at influencing your feelings the first time you read it, but a closer examination leaves you holding nothing of any substance. The most that can be reliably concluded from this piece is that people have strong feelings about left-handedness and conversion.

Daniel Hindes

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Click to subscribe to anthroposophy_tomorrow
 

February/March 2004

The Uncle Taz "Anthroposophy Tomorrow" Files

Anthroposophy & Anarchism

Anthroposophy & Scientology

Anthroposophical Morsels

Anthroposophy, Critics, and Controversy

Search this site powered by FreeFind