Dan’s PLANS Scams

It’s all over now. There’s nothing left to do with PLANS’ seven year long lawsuit except give it a proper burial.
But PLANS has signalled their intention to take the smoldering remains of this case Uptown, to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. As if they haven’t suffered enough indignity~~
Nearly a decade spent gathering evidence for this case, and yet still somehow PLANS failed to show up with a single piece of qualifying evidence during the trial. You’d think this cold splash of reality would give even the band of loyal merrymen at the Waldorf Critics List at least a moment or two of sober reflection. If so, there are no signs of it so far.
Dan Dugan, ably assisted by co-founder Debra Snell, spent the last several days peddling a PR cover story. It wasn’t a rout, he assured his absurdly gullible followers. No, Dan declared, PLANS actually staged a walk-out. In protest, he suggested, over the judge’s “unfairness” in an earlier ruling to disallow some of the PLANS witnesses. If PLANS couldn’t use those witnesses, it seemed, then by God, PLANS would just dig in their heels and take a principled stand against calling any other witnesses either. So there. Humph!
Dan reassures everyone, PLANS “has plenty of witnesses“. But they simply “opted” not to call any of them. “We quit..”
I must admit, this was a stunningly bold legal tactic, by any measure. It’s time for the opening move of the trial, and the Plaintiff passes? Of course, this daring tactic makes it absolutely assured that the Plaintiff will lose their own case, but hey—it does have one indisputable advantage. It’s probably the only tactic used in over two hundred years of American jurisprudence that has never once triggered a defense attorney’s objection.

And there it sits-

My previous blog on the “Big Lie” [http://www.defendingsteiner.com/wc/archives/2005/08/the_big_lie_fro.html#comments] hasn’t brought forward any attempts to verify the quote from Peter Staudenmaier.
I do believe that I could offer the Waldorf Critics and PLANS a thousand dollars, ten thousand dollars or even a million dollars and the quote would remain – unverified.
“Please point out any falsehoods you find on the PLANS site, so they might be corrected.” Posted by Dan Dugan on Waldorf Critics a month ago. I guess “might” is the operative word.
Did Steiner say it? Put up the quote or remove the article!

Returning to Pt 1, “Lies on waldorf critics website”

Suffering the “Summer Lazies”, I didn’t get much further than Paragraph One in Dan Dugan’s challenge to “expose any lies” on the PLANS website. I do still intend to return to it.
However, there is some unfinished business remaining on the analysis of the lies on Paragraph One. Dan has formed a response of sorts to the issues, and I would like to take this opportunity to explore that response. I’m happy to report he wasn’t in wholesale disagreement with me on each of the issues I raised. He agreed with at least one of them, my assertion that the waldorf critics are but a “motley handful” of people. Well! That’s a good start!
But we’ve still a long way to go. My original argument can be found here . Unfortunately, Dan’s response won’t be there. Dan’s response was not written to me directly, but instead to a third individual who had read my remarks and commented upon them, adding to them some of his own thoughts as well.
The PLANS website claims itself to be a “worldwide network” of former Waldorf parents, teachers, administrators, etc.
In my piece, I pointed out that despite concerted efforts on my part, I couldn’t find but a single individual who would admit to being a member of this “worldwide network” besides board members, and quipped that six of the seven board of directors live “close enough they could lunch together”. Dan pointedly disagreed, and insisted but just five were living close by.
I hate being wrong. Am I? No, I don’t think so. Count them again, Dan. Not too hard, since only ONE of the board of directors lives outside an only mildly extravagant “Let’s Do Lunch” geographical perimeter. Though I didn’t count them in my original tally, all from PLANS “Supporting Advisory” board could easily join them as well, all except one-“The Amazing Randi”-who calls Florida his home.
So Dan?!?! Come on………..! Ten of the twelve live within just hours of you. Why won’t you concede my point on this?
Moving to the next contention. I claimed that PLANS has a lawyer who “has been funded by a religious organization which was deceived into believing that Waldorf schools engage in witchcraft”. Dan takes issue, saying his lawyer “would be very pleased to be funded”, and attempts to discredit my comment by suggesting that there were just “two small grants” from Pacific Justice Institute (which IS a religious organization btw).
Dan, since these “two small grants” represent the lion’s share of the moneys paid thus far (as publicly disclosed, anyway), attempts to minimize it seem a little silly. In 1999, PLANS reports the first of the grants as an “earmarked” asset in their disclosure of financial resources to the IRS. The amount indicated in the first funding was $15000 (cost reimbursable grant), and a copy of the grant application was included. Media later reported that $18000 in grant money had been provided.
Dan also tries to downplay the role the witchcraft allegations played in this application, and once again offers his public the disingenuous denial, “I don’t know where this impression came from”. I say “disingenuous”, because this isn’t some new, outta the blue, issue. This is a very, very old story, reaching all the way back to PLANS very earliest days as leaflet passing, media-microphone blabbing, poster waving rabble-rousers, and he fully well knows the issue is still ‘out there’ because it continues to be raised in the media.
As evident in this initial grant application, PJI was explicitly told that the involved students were “required to fold their arms and chant, say a pledge to the sun flag, and other Wicca-based religious practices.” PLANS had organized demonstrations at the Waldorf methods school in one of the districts being sued, and subsequent to these demonstrations, the media widely reported the witchcraft allegations. One local paper reported, “By 1997, administrators had to fend off claims that the school was teaching witchcraft. Dan Dugan, a Bay Area activist with a goal to rid public schools of all such Waldorf teachings, led the protest then and now.”
Dan attempts to deflect from PLANS any measure of responsibility for the witchcraft allegations with a personal abstention: he didn’t make the allegations, and he doesn’t believe them himself. However, there is no question that in the grant application for the lawsuit, and in PR both then and ever since, Dan has benefitted PLANS by playing this both ways. He will assert PLANS represents those individuals who believed it, including those who made the allegations to TV and print reporters. This fact too was a representation made on behalf of PLANS in the grant application. Both he and others on the PLANS board stood right alongside those making the allegations, and in some measure, coordinated with them in the organized demonstrations. PLANS milked this nonsense charge for every drop it afforded, as the PLANS president, Debra Snell acknowledged at least once on the WC list. The “witchcraft” accusations brought PLANS much-sought media attention. They bought PLANS at least $15000 to apply toward legal expenses. And for the upcoming trial itself, PLANS added one of the most prominent individuals to have made the witchcraft allegations to their own WITNESS LIST!!
But gee, Dan…………..”I don’t know where this impression came from”??????????????? Cut it out, already, before your nose grows so long it attracts woodpeckers.
I haven’t finished all the remaining ‘unfinished business’ from Paragraph One. The rest will have to wait. But before I sign off on this installment, I thought I’d comment that the WC list continues to roast an unidentified “Board Chair” of a private Waldorf school someplace for her failure to be currently and accurately informed on the status of the PLANS lawsuit. After all, list members argue, it’s “her job” to be informed of issues which pertain to the Waldorf movement.
Ironically, it’s clear PLANS founding board member Dan Dugan is demonstrating a few key knowledge “gaps” of his own regarding his own organization.

Waldorf Critics display ignorance

A great delight of my life as an undergraduate was studying Ancient Greek for 3 years. Reading Homer, Aristotle, Herodotus, Plato and Euripides in Greek (very badly, I admit) was a thrill. In addition, my fellow students were a diverse and fascinating bunch.
But I digress.

Are Rudolf Steiner’s Waldorf Schools `Non-Sectarian’?
Dan Dugan and Judy Daar

was published in Free Inquiry in 1994. I’m not going to take the time to analyze the entire article (already taken care of), but there is one goody I wanted to point out. At the very end of the article it says:

“The four temperaments” refers to Steiner’s revival of medieval psychology. Waldorf teachers classify personalities as sanguine, melancholic, phlegmatic, or choleric, and treat children differently according to their types.

Now it is true that scholars in the Middle Ages still used these terms, although during that period they had little to do with psychology: these concepts were actually central to medieval medical practice.
My amusement arises from two sources. First, the fact that Dan and Judy are unaware of the true source of the temperaments in Ancient Greece. The ideas were derived from Aristotle’s work with the elements and transformed into medical practice by Galen (2nd century A.D.) Everyone calls them “medieval” so at least their ignorance is common currency.
The second source of amusement is the following quote:

A psychology colleague at Oxford remarked recently that, as a classification of personality types, the four humours are as good as any that has ever been offered.

From Greek Fire: The Influence of Ancient Greece on the Modern World by Oliver Taplin. Macmillan, 1989.
I’d much rather study the work of someone like Rudolf Steiner, who had the good sense to recognize a useful set of concepts, develop them further and put them into practice; than hang out with the Waldorf Critics who, in spite of all the ranting about ad homs, just toss out the word “medieval” and feel no need to think further.
Ignorance and closed minds.

What is an “anthroposophical education”?

I came across a potentially confusing phrase today, "anthroposophical education". It is potentially confusing because it could be understood two ways. It could mean: a school that will teach children anthroposophy. Or it could mean: a curriculum that is consistent with the principles of anthroposophy, even as it does not teach anthroposophy.

Rudolf Steiner explicitly and repeatedly stated that the Waldorf Schools SHOULD NOT teach anthroposophy to the students. He said at one point that a healthy child would have a natural repulsion to anthroposophy if they encountered it. This is something that those familiar with anthroposophy take seriously; it is not for children. You will have a very hard time finding a school that teaches anthroposophy to children; no Waldorf school should be doing it.

What is found at most Waldorf Schools is an "anthroposophical education" in the sense of an education that anthroposophists find appropriate for children. An "anthroposophically appropriate" curriculum is one that takes the anthroposophical knowledge of the human being, such as the stages of childhood development, and uses this knowledge to shape a curriculum that addresses the child where she is at, in each phase of development. That is, you use the understanding gained by a study of anthroposophy to create something new, a whole curriculum, or a daily lesson plan.

Using one thing to create another is a distinction lost on many at the Waldorf Critics list. When Joseph Beuys used Rudolf Steiner‘s anthroposophy as inspiration to create his artwork, the results are not "anthroposophy" just because the inspiration behind their creation was anthroposophy (FWIW I am aware of the debate in art history circles about how much or little Rudolf Steiner actually influenced Joseph Beuys). Likewise, when a Waldorf teacher uses anthroposophy as a guide to creating a lesson plan, the resulting lesson plan is not "anthroposophy". It is the same principle as creating a lesson plan using Backwards Design Principles. The resulting lesson plan is a lesson plan consistent with the principles of Backwards Design. It is not "Backwards Design" itself. This principle of using something (anthroposophy) as an inspiration to create something else (a pedagogy) seems very simple to me, yet it has confused the best minds at the Waldorf Critics list.