Here’s yet another article on waldorf education and technology. (See earlier post.) As always, what kills these ideas is, has always been and will always be the fanaticism with which they are pursued. It’s good to go out playing instead of spending every minute in front of the screen. But there’s more to this than reasonable philosophy. And, as usual, nobody asks why waldorf eschews technology. At least, in this article, anthroposophy is mentioned, so is Steiner. That’s all good and well. But not connection is made between anthroposophy itself and the anti-technology position taken, and few critical questions are asked. (Some general observations about the nature of waldorf education are made, but the ideas behind are not explored at all.) They just rehash the pro-waldorf side’s PR.
‘But the end results are striking’, the article’s author writes, after having taken AWSNA’s word for the method’s successes. And, of course, they have found the committed waldorf mother to speak up on behalf of waldorf, and, of course, that means spreading rather odd ideas about the differences between waldorf and mainstream education:
But her belief is that in traditional classrooms, all children are expected to learn the same things, at the same time, in the same ways.
That’s exactly how I experienced the expectations of waldorf! If your children want to learn at waldorf’s pace, want to learn the same things as the other children at the same time, in the same ways — then, I guess, the limits of waldorf aren’t so consciously experienced. It may even seem like they aren’t there. Doesn’t mean they aren’t, though.
“[My children] both conveyed to me that this style of learning was threatening,” Douglas says.
And the waldorf style isn’t? Well, again, that would depend on perspective. Actually, and it should be said, Douglas isn’t just any waldorf mother — she’s ‘working to establish the Waldorf-concept school locally’ and is thus more like a spokesperson for waldorf. She has more than one stake in its ‘success’.
Waldorf’s site notes that after spending their young lives away from technology, kids in Waldorf high schools often go on to build their own computers as school projects, surpassing their traditionally schooled peers.
This ‘information’ should not be repeated as fact without critical inquiry — it may very well be based on wishful thinking.
Waldorf, especially, is chastised by some for its focus on a child’s “spirit,” and its tendency to come off as artsy or lax.
There’s more to criticize in waldorf than it being ‘artsy or lax’. I’m not sure it’s very artsy — and I don’t think it’s lax. It just requires adherence to a different regiment.
Also, it’s worth noting, spirit — in anthroposophy — is not a concept with quotation marks around it. For better or worse.