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October 24, 2011

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Children do need to learn to use actual information sources (as opposed to tech gadgets) in school, but they aren't developmentally ready to do a google search in the way that you're describing it, until late elementary school. I see no reason not to delay technology in the way that this Waldorf school does (altho there are other reasons to be skeptical about Waldorf . . . ). In general, our children get too much technology and not enough primary, hands-on experience in school and elsewhere. In fact, broad contact with the physical and interpersonal (in-person) world are just as important for children to develop the ability to judge whether information is accurate or not as the ability to filter electronic information is.

EB, I agree with you -- I think fourth or fifth grade is probably the right time to begin this kind of work. And I also like the hands-on craft and construction activities this school prioritizes. That kind of "tinkering" play is also associated with increasing kids' interest in STEM fields.

http://blog.genyes.org/index.php/2011/05/20/tinkering-and-stem-good-for-girls-good-for-all/

The late Jacques Barzun used to say that Americans were afflicted with "post-posterisum" -- that is, they want to do last things first in education without going through the necessary steps to get there.

I saw this when my child's class in public school class was assigned a "research paper" in second grade. Neither they nor the teacher had the vaguest notion of what a research paper is. Second graders are barely able to read. They need to do things that are developmentally appropriate to their level.

Believe me, when Waldorf students tackle computers, they will learn about it in depth.

I'm hard-pressed to understand the emphasis on either/or. As groovy as Waldorf schools, kids, parents tend to be, they are often the outliers when it comes to schooling. Sure, kids might be well-served up to a certain age by learning to use crayons and paints as opposed to screens to create artwork and all that goes with it, to get messy, to learn to clean up after themselves etc. but I'm taking Dana's side here. What about kids who can't hold a crayon? All things in moderation and in the end, it's up to the adults in students' lives to direct them how to use the tools wisely.

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