No Computers for Silicon Valley’s Children
The Waldorf School of the Peninsula, is one of around 160 Waldorf schools in the country that subscribe to a teaching philosophy focused on physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks. Those who endorse this approach say computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans. The Waldorf method is almost 100 years old. Surprisingly, the chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school in Los Altos, Calif. Other Waldorf parents include employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard. Last week, The New York Times ran a story entitled, “A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute.” I thought the article shared an interesting philosophy and one that I happened to agree with. Here is an excerpt from the article written by Matt Richtel:
The Waldorf method is nearly a century old, but its foothold here among the digerati puts into sharp relief an intensifying debate about the role of computers in education.
“I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school,” said Alan Eagle, 50, whose daughter, Andie, is one of the 196 children at the Waldorf elementary school; his son William, 13, is at the nearby middle school. “The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous.”
Mr. Eagle knows a bit about technology. He holds a computer science degree from Dartmouth and works in executive communications at Google, where he has written speeches for the chairman, Eric E. Schmidt. He uses an iPad and a smartphone. But he says his daughter, a fifth grader, “doesn’t know how to use Google,” and his son is just learning. (Starting in eighth grade, the school endorses the limited use of gadgets.)
Three-quarters of the students here have parents with a strong high-tech connection. Mr. Eagle, like other parents, sees no contradiction. Technology, he says, has its time and place: “If I worked at Miramax and made good, artsy, rated R movies, I wouldn’t want my kids to see them until they were 17.”
While other schools in the region brag about their wired classrooms, the Waldorf school embraces a simple, retro look — blackboards with colorful chalk, bookshelves with encyclopedias, wooden desks filled with workbooks and No. 2 pencils.
You are the judge of your own children’s learning, but I wanted to share a unique example that will help you make your decisions. Have a great day…and go play in the mud.
– Kathy Gruhn, MA CCC-SLP, author of My Baby Compass series