Posted by: Alexandre Borovik | October 25, 2011

Some high tech parents and school without computers

From NYT, October 22, 2011:

LOS ALTOS, Calif. — The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.

But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.

Read the rest of the article by  .  However, a few further random quotes:

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.

Andie’s teacher, Cathy Waheed, who is a former computer engineer, tries to make learning both irresistible and highly tactile. Last year she taught fractions by having the children cut up food — apples, quesadillas, cake — into quarters, halves and sixteenths.

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Responses

  1. Of course, only the economically privileged can send their children to a Waldorf school. I looked into Waldorf schools briefly, and think there are some interesting ideas there, but to some extent you have to “buy into” certain ideologies which may or may not bear scrutiny. Caveat emptor.

  2. Wow, indeed. They certainly have a “humorous” approach.

    “Waldorf teachers use the concept of the four temperaments to help interpret, understand and relate to the behaviour and personalities of children under their tutelage. The temperaments — choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic, and sanguine — are thought to express four basic personality types, each possessing its own fundamental way of regarding and interacting with the world.”

  3. Waldorf/Steiner Schools are built around a philosophy called “anthroposophy” created by one Rudolf Steiner. One can get a sense of its scientific robustness here.

    There’s a lot of material on the web about Steiner education, from people who only belatedly discovered its ideological roots. e.g. this & this

    Personally, I wouldn’t touch it with a barge-pole.

    • Absolutely. I have to deal with someone influenced by antroposophy, the thing Waldorf schools are based on, and it constantly drives me to the very limits of my tolerance of bullshit…
      Maybe antroposophy blends well with New Age, or whatever this blend of nonsense, popular in Bay Area, is called :)

  4. What matters for me is parents’ attitude to computer technology:

    And where advocates for stocking classrooms with technology say children need computer time to compete in the modern world, Waldorf parents counter: what’s the rush, given how easy it is to pick up those skills?

    “It’s supereasy. It’s like learning to use toothpaste,” Mr. Eagle [an employee of Google and a parent of a pupil in the school --AB] said. “At Google and all these places, we make technology as brain-dead easy to use as possible. There’s no reason why kids can’t figure it out when they get older.”


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