By Therésa Müller
Conventional wisdom holds that access to technology stimulates thinking, making it possible for children to learn and be prepared for the future on an equal footing.
While access to the huge storehouse of information, as well as the opportunities for collaboration represented by technology certainly are an advantage to students anywhere, research increasingly indicates that too early access retards intellectual development and the capacity to think. *
Researchers found that for every hour per day spent watching specially developed baby DVDs and videos such as ‘Baby Einstein’ and ‘Brainy Baby’, children under 16 months understood an average of six to eight fewer words compared to children who did not watch them. – Aric Sigman
The introduction of home computer technology is associated with statistically significant and persistent negative impacts on student math and reading test scores. – Jacob Vigdor
Research increasingly supports what Waldorf schools the world over have been practicing for more than a century – proving that movement, art, music and note-taking by hand are all excellent methods** of supporting brain development and the ability to think. Most importantly, Waldorf methods stimulate the healthy development of the child’s own imagination.
By age 10 children in play-based kindergartens excel over others
in reading, math, social and emotional learning, creativity, oral expression, industriousness, and imagination. – Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School, by Edward Miller and Joan Almon
This does not mean that Waldorf education is techno-phobic. It is not. It is techno-sensible. It introduces technology at a time in student’s lives when their physical, neurological and emotional development is not threatened. It introduces technology when children have already learnt to interact with one another and with teachers, when they have experienced life and nature through all their senses, and when they have learnt to use their imagination to connect the dots … as opposed to finding all the answers already provided.
Technology in Waldorf Schools is introduced in high school as a useful servant – not as the must-have of education. It is never a substitute for teacher – student interaction or for imaginative, experiential learning – working with real materials. Computer technology is quickly mastered by older students, many of whom have successful careers in technology-based industries. – William Bester, Michael Mount Waldorf School
What is technology used for in the high school years?
Computer literacy and computer aided technology (CAT) is taught in high school. Internet-based research and collaboration is encouraged in high school. Information Technology (IT) is offered as a matric subject. Smart phones, tablets and iPads are banned until matric.
* Potential harm
** Waldorf methods supported by independent research