The opinions expressed in this article are those of “Fred”, a frequent contributor to Frank Report, who believes that the concept of Rainbow Cultural Garden is flawed. However, it may be true that Rainbow has had positive benefits for the children in it. Frank Report would welcome the views of parents of Rainbow children to hear the results of their children’s participation.
The writer, referring to Rainbow Cultural Garden, writes of Keith Raniere, “He created a beautiful program for children.”
The Rainbow Cultural Garden schools were not just an illegal and uncontrolled experiment on small children. These schools went against all the evidence of proper language acquisition and its importance for future intellectual development.
In 1987, I got a master’s degree for a study of science classroom language. I recorded hundreds of hours of classroom discourse and spent thousands of hours transcribing it, including every “um” and “er…”.
I surveyed all the existing literature on classroom language at the time (there was amazingly little, especially actual classroom studies). I studied all the literature on language and language learning — from Sausurre, one of the founders of modern linguistics, through to Piaget, Chomsky and the like.
I was forced to wade through Foucault, Derrida and Lacan, etc., a total pile of crap in my book, useless for classroom investigation. To my great surprise, and putting me totally at odds with my thesis supervisor, I found that the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein with his concept of “language games” actually provided me with the most useful analytical tools.
Much of the research involved observing second-language speakers, so I made a special study of the influence of “mother tongue” language development and second-language learning.
I haven’t checked to see what the current orthodoxy says, but I can tell you that there was one and only one research finding that was of any relevance at the time. This finding was clear across the board. The more secure a child was in their mother tongue, the better was all their future learning, and all their future language development, including learning foreign languages. And everything I have seen since then confirms this finding. In general, a strong foundation in the mother tongue is the basis for all learning.
The idea that you teach a child in a different language every day — each different to the mother tongue — is one of the most stupid and abusive practices I’ve ever heard of in early education. I am 100% certain that every single child that went through this program will show clear signs of cognitive damage and language deficiency. How Raniere was able to get away with this appalling experiment on children is quite beyond me, and it really shows the power of cult thinking.
Get this straight: I believe deeply in freedom in education, that people should be able to teach their children as they wish, as long as the basic laws of the land are not broken, in terms of abuse, child labor, coercion, etc. Rainbow Cultural Gardens provide a really clear test case because there were multiple laws broken by this cult, including human trafficking, sexual grooming and rape of children, and savage mental torture and confinement of young victims.
When a school acts directly against the most basic tenet of learning — sound grasp of the mother tongue — there should be a very loud alarm bell that rings somewhere. How were these schools able to get away with this abuse?
Let me tell you: it’s not easy to keep a school going. The fact that RCGs were able to carry on as they did, shows me that there were other hands at work behind the scenes, other agendas at play. I am certain that Keith Raniere could not himself have managed such a school unaided for one day.
Just for comparison, take a look at this video from the Ramtha cult’s now-defunct school, Phoenix Rising. It all sounds slick and wholesome, but you’ll find the Ramtha exercises — including blundering around a field blindfolded looking for “your” card, and doing blindfold archery — feature strongly, from about 1:25 into the video. This is also abusive crap, in my view, but my real point here is that this school went bankrupt, despite the De Beers diamond heiress Rebecca Oppenheimer donating $170,000 a pop to keep it going. Even with this kind of support, the school couldn’t survive.
How were the Rainbow Cultural Gardens able to carry on for so long? Was this part of a trafficking scheme, where the kids and “teachers” were all being brainwashed? There are still huge questions in my mind about this exercise, and there should be a proper investigation by the educational authorities in each country that hosted these schools.
But to call this a “beautiful program for children” is seriously deranged, if you know anything about education. These people are living in a world of total delusion.
Watch this important video where Raniere teaches his First Line slave Loreta Garza, who also headed the Rainbow experiment, about how to teach babies.
Frank Parlato’s work with Jerry Ianelli of the Miami New Times directly led to the closing of the Rainbow Cultural Garden in Miami, a month after Raniere was arrested.