Parents often wonder whether the lack of computer technology and curriculum exposure to software is hurting their child’s ability to ‘get ahead of the pack’ when it comes to secondary and post-secondary education. Much of this concern is driven by the media and technology itself. Recent studies and several articles in the NY Times and other print media have discussed this topic in great detail. The NY Times has published several articles over the last 10 months challenging the efficacy of technology based learning, especially for younger children. A few weeks ago, a staff writer, Matt Richtel got up-close and personal at Waldorf School of the Peninsula, in asking parents there, in the middle of Silicon Valley, why they were comfortable with a school that had no technology in the lower grades.
Families at WSP in Los Altos, CA are an interesting demographic, in that so many of them are working within the R&D and production areas of the latest technology. Their close proximity to the realities of the industry help them feel confident that their children are gaining skills and understanding that will serve them far into the future, while iphone apps and other software will be superseded (obsolete) in just a few years, long before their children enter college.
Granted, there is controversy about what is necessary, what is important, and what is icing on the cake. Waldorf Education will always take the position that technology, properly applied, is not bad, but that timing is everything! Using a tool is only appropriate when you know how it works and what the results will be when you ‘start the engine’.
If teaching is a human experience, then engagement, contact with the teacher, with other students, with color and multitudes of medium to express their burgeoning ideas can give young children familiarity with all the trappings they’ll need to be creative and thoughtful. Whether they want to be electrical engineers, doctors, book editors, designers or horse whisperers, what really stays the course for them is their acute sense of curiosity and interest in a wide variety of people, places and ideas which will guarantee they will be asking questions their whole lives long.
The NY Times article does not glorify Waldorf Education and presents dissenting opinions, but the quotes from actual parents are affecting. If you haven’t read this article, don’t miss it, and if you have, send it on to a skeptical friend. Find the link on our homepage at www.waldorfatlanta.org
This article originally appeared in the December 2011 edition of the Garden Breeze newsletter of the Waldorf School of Atlanta.