Rather Hoarse Lion

 

From: golden3000997
Date: Wed Feb 11, 2004 4:21 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Rather Hoarse Lion

Good Morning Linda!

Haven't even had my first cup of coffee yet and already had to face really dumb responses from Dan Dugan to my post about studying "handedness". Got one last night from Peter Farrell pointing me to a professor in Washington State who makes a case that the correlation between body side dominance and brain hemisphere research is basically over rated and over referred to and is akin to phrenology in the 19th century.

http://williamcalvin.com/bk2/bk2ch10.htm

now this one from Dan

http://www.indiana.edu/~primate/

So, I'm really not in the mood to laugh. I might never be. I would be able to laugh if what they are doing didn't have such serious implications. You see, if parents do not like Waldorf Education principles and practices and find those who do laughable and without merit, they can choose not to send their child to such a school or to pull the child out of one. That is why I agree with them about not allowing Waldorf in public education. Parents who remain by default or choice in the state system have very little choice about which school their child goes to except by moving to a different town. They have every right to state their grievances with a particular Waldorf teacher or school in public and even encourage others to avoid Waldorf Schools. People can just as easily make very good cases against sending children to Catholic schools (wanna talk about left hand switching and Catholic schools?). And even in the face of the barrage of pedophile cases being brought to light in the Catholic community, no group has the right to blanket label ALL Catholic schools a "racist Nazi cult" - even though a case with historical basis might be made.

There is no place for "us" (WE & Anthros) to move to to "avoid" this particular group of people that we disagree with about educational principles and practices and who we might find laughable. The slurs and defamations reach world wide through the internet and will follow us anywhere and eat at the worldwide system like a virus.

In the case of the professor who refuses to respond to slanderous personal remarks, we have a different situation. His individual reputation and position in the college society was secure and well recognized. Waldorf Schools do not yet enjoy this kind of respect and acknowlegement widely enough yet to rest confidently on their basis of support in world opinion. There are simply too many people around the world who have not yet "heard" of Waldorf Education and whose first exposure to it could well be through the PLANS group and their court case.

To continue the analogy started above with the Catholic Schools, the Catholic Church is certainly established world wide, in spite of violent opposition and equally violent defense. They have legal protection in the United States and most other countries around the world against many forms of attack. They also have the membership numbers and financial backing to fight off legal or public relations attacks whereever and whenever they occur, as well as as many of the finest lawyers in the world at their disposal as they may ever need. So, even though cases are brought against them, they have to be extremely well founded legally to even get a preliminary hearing. Waldorf Schools and the Anthroposophical Society have no such advantages. Our work and our existence is very open and vulnerable to attack from any sector of public or private opinion. It makes no difference in the "court of public opinion whether the facts support the allegations. Public opinion is powerful and easily manipulated.

Catholic and Montessori Schools do not belong in the state school system and I believe they recognize and accept this (maybe some Montessori exceptions, I don't know). Krishna schools, Sufi schools, Fundamentalist Christian schools, ANY school which identifies itself with a religious ideology which is stated to be exclusive and in its nature considers itself "mandated" by God to provide recruits to its belief system - all have no place in the school system as it exists now in the United States. Despite the fact that the "religious" element to be found in Waldorf Education is universal and inclusive and despite the fact that there is no organized religious institution to recruit any members to, there is enough "associative" religious connotation in our principles and practices to warrant the separation of Waldorf Schools and the government school system.

But we cannot and do not have to allow detractors to enter the private school arena of our work and make wholesale condemnations and accusations that have no basis in fact. Let them stick to the arena of public legality, whether we like it or not. But private schools in this country are still free to operate and enjoy (to this date at least) some protection from state interference and public slander. We must use this protection to the fullest extent while it is still available.

I would like to call on the Waldorf School movement and the Anthropsophical Society at large to address this issue and to work diligently to gather legal aid and information needed to protect our work in the private sector and to "immunize" us against this very vicious virus that has begun to infect our worldwide school system.

If anyone knows of people active in the Waldorf Education movement who have formed or are in the process of forming action committees in this direction, I would appreciate it if you would send me the contact information and/ or pass my writings on this issue to people involved.

I also need to state that I reserve the right to write to this list and to speak about the WC/ PLANS group without the need to cc them each time, unless I am offering direct quotes and interpretations of those quotes. If what I say here is taken out of context and missed on any other forum I will protest with every resource at my disposal.

Now I'm going to get some coffee.

Have a nice Wednesday!

Christine

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From: elredon
Date: Wed Feb 11, 2004 7:06 am
Subject: Re: Rather Hoarse Lion and Eagle

Hello Christine,

I wanted to chime in here. I hope you don't mind.

First of all I truly understand your passion. It made me think, "I'd like to know this person."

Then I went about responding to many of your statements, but in the end I tossed it all out. I found myself poking holes all over the place in your arguments with such terms as - Parental Free Will; with or without the critics. Parental Priorities. Freedom of Speech in the US; the internet is a reality and here to stay. Finally, and what is most important, what is moral and immoral? If you apply any one of those phrases to each paragraph you might see where I am coming from.

After that discovery, it brought me to the larger issue I think is facing the Waldorf Movement today. Morality.

One example you used was the Catholic Church. Is using the Catholic Church as a roll model, welding its legal abilities and power, moral? Is it something the Waldorf Movement desires or wishes to emulate?

I know how you feel about Waldorf in the public sector, but you must have thought, at some point, that when this decision was made it would open a virtual Pandora's Box, no?

I must confess that I often wonder what the true intentions where, what was really on the minds of those key people who made the decision to push this movement into the public sector. Was it really a moral decision?

In this last part I am going to quote you. At the end I have what I believe is one very important question for all to consider.

But we cannot and do not have to allow detractors to enter the private school arena of our work and make wholesale condemnations and accusations that have no basis in fact. Let them stick to the arena of public legality, whether we like it or not. But private schools in this country are still free to operate and enjoy (to this date at least) some protection from state interference and public slander. We must use this protection to the fullest extent while it is still available.

I would like to call on the Waldorf School movement and the Anthropsophical Society at large to address this issue and to work diligently to gather legal aid and information needed to protect our work in the private sector and to "immunize" us against this very vicious virus that has begun to infect our worldwide school system.

If anyone knows of people active in the Waldorf Education movement who have formed or are in the process of forming action committees in this direction, I would appreciate it if you would send me the contact information and/ or pass my writings on this issue to people involved.

If a legally developed community exists should a portion of those funds and efforts be directed to protect and defend parents and teachers who have endured abuse by particular schools and individuals within the Waldorf Movement?

I am assuming that we would all agree that legal action is a financial burden few individuals, who are genuinely hurt, can afford?

Does anyone know if AWSNA has a code of ethics schools can/should abide by when it comes to dealing with parents and teachers who have been hurt by individual Waldorf Schools or Educators?

Thank you for reading.
-el

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From: Linda Clemens
Date: Wed Feb 11, 2004 10:19 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Rather Hoarse Lion

golden3000997 wrote:

Haven't even had my first cup of coffee yet and already had to face really dumb responses from Dan Dugan to my post about studying "handedness".

You were quick to see the contradictions, yes? They argue Waldorf ed is bogus because its "woo-woo" ideas aren't validated in mainstream research. Yet if you demonstrate the correlation to mainstream research, they're quick to dismiss this research as well. (I was involved in several discussions on other learning issues in which a particular Waldorf practice was being denounced as not only bogus but educational malpractice. And when I pointed out that the same idea was shared by mainstream education, the objections would shift to something along the lines of "the practice itself isn't bogus--it's bogus only when Waldorf educators do it!")

I was involved once in the left-handed switching debate, and I see the exact same arguments recycling over and over again. It's idiotic! I try not to make sweeping generalizations, but I can't help myself on this one. There is only 1 reason that this issue gets their juices flowing, and it isn't because they're flooded with first-hand reports of left-handed switching, barbarously enforced or otherwise. It's because the issue affords a way for critics to stir up an anti-Waldorf hysteria or phobia without having to work too hard to so. For centuries, left-handedness implied something evil, something destructive, and a person too lazy to argue the issues in Waldorf honestly can rely on this negative history to emotionally "load" the discussion. Never mind that Rudolf Steiner's reasons (or those of any Waldorf educators I've heard of) for switching left-handers had nothing whatsoever to with these historical connotations of evil or black magic ROFL!

Similarly, it wasn't so long ago that switching was the mainstream's view, and there were many horror stories of children being brutally and cruelly forced to switch whether it was by physical punishments or emotional pressures. It's a "convenience" for the critics to conjure up those images as well, hoping that by associating those horror stories to Waldorf, they can implicate Waldorf as engaging in child abuse. Never mind that Steiner himself INSISTED that this switching proceed only if there were clearly no harm to the child in doing so. Never mind that there is absolutely nothing to indicate that Steiner would have approved of torturing children in order to get them to write with their right hand. And never mind that NOBODY in Waldorf today advocates anything like this.

This practice of left-handed switching is so freakin' rare, after 10 years as a Waldorf parent I've yet to meet anyone who says their left-hander was pushed to switch. I have a left-hander myself. The classes are full of left handers. Left handed teachers teach there too. With something like 1 out 10 persons left-handed, it's not like Waldorf schools are rarely confronted with the issue! Where are all the REAL horror stories (as opposed to those the critics would anticipate going on?)

Ask any Waldorf parent if their left-hander suffers from "switching", and if they say yes, I promise you 99.99% of the time it is in terms of knitting, crocheting, and playing the flute! Not in writing.

So understand that this left-handed switching thing isn't a genuine curiosity or concern with them about brain integration or dominance. [I've decided that if they can attach "motives" to what I say, I'm free to attach them to what they say.] The issue is of genuine interest to them because it has a pizzazzy way of attracting uninformed or paranoid criticisms toward Waldorf, which fits their agenda. There is no real honest concern for real living and breathing left-handers in their argument. Ask the Waldorf "survivors" as they call themselves if they have any direct experience with this so-called problem themselves or at their former school. I'd be curious. Because from where I sat, they spent all their time arguing about left-handers' mistreatments from the middle-ages, etc., but no time whatsoever sharing actual examples of these so-called horror stories supposedly going on in Waldorf today.

The slurs and defamations reach world wide through the internet and will follow us anywhere and eat at the worldwide system like a virus.

Christine, unfortunately reckless accusations of "racism" are a currency these days. You can wield a lot of power in some circles by slapping that word on someone, and unfortunately--you can buy a lot of influence over a lot of people when you do that. I see politicians from ALL sides guilty of this. And although I'd be an idiot if I didn't acknowledge that race plays a huge role in the complex issues facing mainstream education, there's no question in my mind but that the accusations are so loaded and incautiously tossed at people in mainstream education, that the "race police" I call them are causing immense damage in an already fragile situation. Just the term itself behaves like a million watt flash and it seems to short-circuit people's thinking processes like a sun spot storm.

If you can find the best solution for defusing these kinds of accusations, which do tend to behave like "bombs", I'd be tickled no end. Our Waldorf school is one of the few arenas I'm involved in these days where such charges DON'T have this kind of power. ( It's absolutely ludicrous that Waldorf critics would be so obsessed with racism in Waldorf schools, because My God! The public schools? HELLO?!?!?!!!!!! And I speak from experience on this--there was (IS) more racism in public schools than just about anyplace in our culture! That was true for my children. I recently learned one of my son's classmates is a refugee from public school where not only was he openly targeted, but the teachers and administration wouldn't even speak out against it let alone lift a finger to protect him from it. He endured it for two years before his parent realized it was never going to change.)

In my experience, rolling your eyes to obviously idiotic accusations worked as well as anything did, which isn't saying a lot but I can say that tackling the charges head on doesn't work well either. Like I said, clear headed thinking doesn't seem to be effective when it comes to this issue.

This may be small consolation, but I take it where I can >-). The WC have been trying to push this issue for years and years now, and I don't see any signs that it's moved much at all. I don't see much evidence that the WC are taken too seriously when it comes to that issue.

L

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From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Wed Feb 11, 2004 10:44 am
Subject: defamation, libel, and slander

At 19:19 11.02.2004, Linda Clemens wrote:

Christine, unfortunately reckless accusations of "racism" are a currency these days. You can wield a lot of power in some circles by slapping that word on someone, and unfortunately--you can buy a lot of influence over a lot of people when you do that. I see politicians from ALL sides guilty of this. And although I'd be an idiot if I didn't acknowledge that race plays a huge role in the complex issues facing mainstream education, there's no question in my mind but that the accusations are so loaded and incautiously tossed at people in mainstream education, that the "race police" I call them are causing immense damage in an already fragile situation. Just the term itself behaves like a million watt flash and it seems to short-circuit people's thinking processes like a sun spot storm.

The PLANS-WC tactics appear to be based upon the theory that if you throw the shit at them repeatedly and incessantly long enough, it will eventually stick. So that's what they do. They throw this garbage into anthro-faces not only at every opportunity, but whenever they feel like it, which is basically all the time. In her remark about Christine calling Diana a snake (WC Feb 10), Deborah reflects about the legal definition of defamation and how it relates to libel and slander. And then she writes:

"There is an old saying that, "The truth shall set you free." Speaking the truth is not popular and freedom is more a state of mind than a reality; however, I have always found that one of the assets associated with being low-income is that one is thereby "judgment proof." As a result I love telling the truth, particularly as concerns those who hold to an endtimes, aryan supremacist religion."

Thank you for illustrating defamation, libel, and slander with such a clear example, Deborah.

Cheers,

Tarjei
http://uncletaz.com/

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From: at
Date: Wed Feb 11, 2004 4:12 pm
Subject: Re: Rather Hoarse Lion - laterality research

http://williamcalvin.com/bk2/bk2ch10.htm

now this one from Dan

http://www.indiana.edu/~primate/

Now this is the type of stuff I wish Diana had brought up. William Calvin's site is fascinating, and I have already ordered two of his books. To the link above, which goes to an essay titled "Left Brain, Right Brain: Science or the New Phrenology?" I must say it was a really good read. It was first published in 1983, and the points he raises are still relevant. However, I must note that it takes absolutely no position on handedness. Dr. Calvin is accusing many in the popular press of simplifying the actual research to support a false dichotomy. Not a word about the pedagogical implications of switching, and no facts to support the arguments on either side of the issue.

M.K. Holder, Ph.D. 's website on "Primate Handedness and Brain Lateralization Research" doesn't actually present any research on primate handedness (unless I missed the link somewhere - I presume he is waiting to publish it somewhere more prestigious than the Internet). He has a one page description of why "handedness" is a vague term:

"«Handedness» is a vague term, and can mean many things to many people. Most people in our society define handedness as the hand you use for writing. Within the scientific community, the vagueness of this term has led to much debate. Researchers define handedness based on different theoretical assumptions. For instance, some define handedness as (a) the hand that performs faster or more precisely on manual tests, while others define it as (b) the hand that one prefers to use, regardless of performance. Some think that there are two types of handedness: (a) either left or right, or (b) either right or non-right, while others think there should be three categories (to include ambidexterity). Some think there are two different kinds of ambidexterity. Some think that handedness should not be lumped into 2 or 3 or 5 categories, but rather measured along a scale of a continuum. These are just examples of a few of the differing criteria for handedness! My work attempts to resolve some of these issues."

His actual paper on the matter isn't on-line either; he only has links to libraries where a copy can be obtained. Finally, he has a whole section on the difficulties of being a lefty, including about 100 horror stories form MAINSTREAM education. But no original research on the pedagogical implications of switching. He has a decent bibliography page, but admits that it is selected specifically to support the contention that society has a bias against lefties, something which is doubtless true, but does not directly pertain to our investigation.

Daniel Hindes

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