The Waldorf School of Garden City, NY, founded in 1947, is a private institution with an out of the box approach to technology in education. The school is radically different from public and private schools around the United States in which it has “no tech” learning in the elementary grades. Waldorf School has 353 students in preschool through 12th grade and claims to be the fastest growing independent educational movement in the world. With 19000 students and 1000 schools in 60 other countries, the Waldorf School is beginning to take pride in their curriculum. During the preschool and elementary school, students are banned from using technology in school. Most parents even use this policy at home. In middle school, students are gradually introduced to technology. So, until sixth grade, there are no computers, iPads, laptops, Smartboards, or televisions. As they enter high school, their curriculum is integrated with it. All their schools around the world generally follow this technique.
The founder of this movement, Australian philiosopher Rudolph Steiner, believed a new school was needed to address the whole child – physical, intellectual, spiritual, and social. He thought this approach would teach them in developmentally appropriate stages. The schools emphasize hands-on experiential learning, creativity, collaborative relationships, and physical movements. They make sure students play outside everyday, regardless of the weather, to foster a healthy and cooperative learning environment.
The chair of the Garden City early childhood program stated, “We need them to be in this world before they are in the virtual world. They must be out in the snow, feeling the cold, digging in the garden, picking up those worms, walking in the crunchy leaves.” In general, people don’t even think of those things because we are in such a rush for the iPad.”
In some ways, I think the Waldorf school is gearing towards a positive learning curve, but I think their emphasis on absolutely “no tech” approach during early years seems kind of ridiculous. One parent in the article stated how her four year old has never seen a movie or watched television. That to me seems absurd. No child should go through their first years of life without their favorite television shows, especially if they are educational. Sometimes children find it easier to learn through these methods than books because it’s just simple and fun, but that’s just my opinion. What do you guys think?