Waldorf education fosters enthusiasm and reverence for the highest in our human potential. In order to fulfill that potential, parents and teachers working with Waldorf education make particular efforts to provide protection from negative outside influences for the developing child. Among the assaults on childhood, none is more powerful than television, movies, videos, video games, and Internet/computer usage experienced at too young an age (below age 12). Even after age 12, parents need to be very conscious about their children’s media use.
That said, we live in a culture with increasing technology use and we must prepare our students for living with technology. In order to honor the kingdom of childhood, we limit classroom technology use until developmentally appropriate. We provide a gradual introduction to media technology limiting grade school use to typing practice. We include typing in these grades primarily to support our students in taking the state tests on computers as required.
Our technology curriculum truly begins in 6th grade using the Cyber Civics curriculum with a focus on digital citizenship: teaching the students the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use. The curriculum will be taught without computers, as the lessons are more about online conduct, empathy, and understanding than specific technological skills. From 6th grade on, some homework may be typed to aid in keyboarding practice.
7th will focus on information literacy: how to find, retrieve, assess and use online information. By exploring how they use online information, be it a game, a news article, a research paper, or a post from a friend, they will learn about their own habits, online safety, privacy, copyright, authority, and veracity. We begin to use computers in 7th grade, to build appropriate skills for wise use.
8th will focus on media literacy: viewing and creating all media (digital, print, and audio) with a critical eye toward the messages it contains. In a world packed full of media experiences, it it vitally important that we teach the skills to enable our students to see through the manipulation behind much of the media we are exposed to. From learning about “fake news”, to manipulated photos, the impact of sexting as a form of communication, and seeing through media generated stereotypes, we will wrap up by using digital media to create our own media presentations making use of all the skills developed through the years.