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> Landmark Forum, est reincarnated?
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stoirmeil 
Posted: 16-Feb-2009, 06:48 PM
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I attended a little workshop for teachers lately, that had a sort of motivational leader who is also on our faculty. It was pleasant, entertaining, reasonably full of teachable insights, and it paid. Also, there were good cookies, passable sandwiches, the coffee was abominable but there was Pepsi and bottled iced tea . . . worse ways to spend two hours. The leader was a talented man, but it seemed that very little got down to concrete applications; the session tended to circle around key words like "possibilities" and of course "thinking outside the box."

I was surprised to be e-mailed later by the leader with an invitation to come to a Landmark Education Forum workshop. Not familiar with the thing -- a bit of research did not prove comforting, however. It appears to be a later generation of the old Werner Erhard est thing, which was known to be hard on people, low on backup when people were affected badly (not a rare thing at all), and also exorbitantly expensive. The worst of it seems to be how insistant they are to recruit and attempt to keep hold of you for a whole string of advancing workshops.

I said not my cuppa tea, and I expect no further pressure -- but I'm concerned about this kind of thing loose on a college campus, stemming from or related to est/Landmark tradition and techniques, but not calling itself by its right name.

Any thoughts? Anyone with experience of similar things? There seems to be little or no middle ground, which is a red flag to me in its own right -- the vast amount of web testimonial is either glowing with praise or shrieking with warnings -- also loaded with tales of lawsuits.
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Camac
Posted: 17-Feb-2009, 11:07 AM
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stoirmeil;

I had never heard of Landmark until I read your post so I did a quick scan on the web and discovered, in my opion, an organization of, to put it mildly "NutBars".
To deny reality in order to control your destiny is a sure fired way to gain immortality by way of death. "Whom the Gods destroy. They first drive insane".



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Antwn 
Posted: 17-Feb-2009, 04:08 PM
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Like you guys, I hadn't heard of it either but purused the internet to find out. Apparantly its lead by Werner Erhart's brother and those who'd purchased the "est technology" and it does about $50 million a year in business at $800 a pop to start. So its not just an offshoot of est it is est by another name.

I wouldn't worry too much about its dissemination on campus. If we are each able and willing to investigate it online first, its safe to assume students and teachers will also - unless they're going to force faculty to take the course as a self development exercise. Then watch out!


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stoirmeil 
Posted: 17-Feb-2009, 04:24 PM
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I wish I were that confident. This fellow is faculty and has program influence (teaching, mentoring) over a particular cohort of kids I would call gifted, and also very hard-worked and sometimes overwhelmed. Counnterintuitively maybe, the more gifted many of them are, the less solid and the more insecure, since their identity rests on their specialness and it is constantly being challenged and compared. "Crossing over" to involve them by suggestion to attend the Landmark workshops off campus would be at the very least a conflict of interest; it would also be no good to the kids, and in some cases, potentially bad for them. Kids often don't do due diligence on things when they are presented by people they trust and/or willingly recognize as authority figures -- evidently neither do many adults. Just a nagging doubt -- remember, I took a workshop with this guy myself that was presented as a paid "professional development opportunity;" I would not know how much of it was directly related to Landmark technique, but the personality teaching it, in hindsight, is not hard to relate to such. The thing that makes me antsy is receiving the e-mail invitation; the guy obviously is legit in his university teaching role, but he is also a devotee of the Landmark thing and is also using the university to trawl for inductees -- again, treading on the edge of conflict of interest.
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Antwn 
Posted: 17-Feb-2009, 05:37 PM
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Well, you work with the students you'd know better than I would. Now that I think about it - when I was in college I followed an Indian guru, had a friend who was a Moonie, had a brother and another friend who were members of a gratefully short lived quasi-religious cult started by the friend's father ....so I have to say that the vulnerability of students at that age is not a far fetched notion. I was thinking with the availability of information on the internet and the savvy with which kids nowadays utilize it that that alone would make them less vulnerable, but technological advancements do not ensure psychological advancements.

Can you bring this up? Have clout? Tenure? Immune to inner office politics? Or are you bottom feeder in the heirarchy, associate prof part time or facsimilie?

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stoirmeil 
Posted: 17-Feb-2009, 06:59 PM
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Somewhere on the totem pole, not tenured but not cannon fodder either. smile.gif Anyway, not in the way of getting into trouble for speaking my mind -- I have a fantastic relationship with the director of the program that hosted this workshop, and I did bcc my message to the workshop leader to him as well. "Clout" is irrelevant -- not my department or even my division. The kids this Landmark guy has contact with are not in my purview at all, except as occasional students in the big mixed core classes; I think I have done what I could already. Just letting off steam and getting a reality check after alarming myself with the internet search on Landmark -- thanks. Maybe a little indignant at being directly and personally tapped for potential cultitude by a man I thought of as a colleague -- I do get pulled up short when I find that there is no upper limit to how educated or accomplished a person can be, and still be a fanatic or a credulous fool.

Heh heh -- thinking about how kids use the web for info gathering -- I just attended a library specialist workshop this morning with my Science Writing class, on using public and academic search engines for doing their term paper research. I think in many ways the web uses them: sucks them in, grinds them up and spits them out. They are far from apt at even conceptualizing what a good keyword is, and what is just a dreck magnet, and why.

But the organization, cult or what have you is not trustworthy or harmless, and we have kids here. Bottom line.
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