This post is about computers within the curriculum of the Waldorf schools. Most Waldorf schools obviously do not have a computer lab or computer classes in grade one through eight, but computers are used in high school. Each high school seems to be putting together their own curriculum as they see fit at this point in time, as you will see below.
For a general reference, we have the AWNSA curriculum chart. According to the “Waldorf School Curriculum: An Overview for American Waldorf School Teachers” chart from AWNSA Publications, the development of skills goes as follows:
- (A quick note about Eighth grade: I couldn’t identify anything specifically listed, which makes sense since no elementary Waldorf schools have computer labs…For the homeschool environment, Christopherus Homeschool Resources, Inc. mentions “introduction to computers” in eighth grade as part of their science overview here: http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/waldorf-homeschool-publishing-and-consulting/curriculum/subjects/science.html so perhaps that could be a possibility for parents trying to getting a grasp on how to put something together.)
- Ninth grade: Begin typing on a computer keyboard
- Tenth grade: I couldn’t identify anything specifically listed on the AWNSA chart.
- Eleventh grade: Computer math, programming, build small computers using bread-boards
- Twelfth grade: Computer math, programming, building simple computers
I think the two documents below provide interesting food for thought for homeschooling families influenced by Waldorf philosophy and trying to figure out what to present when, using as a springboard what a Waldorf high school typically does.
- This was an outline I found of one high school computer teacher’s curriculum for a Waldorf School for grades 9-11: http://krumsyarov.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/computer-science-education-in-waldorf-schools/
- Here was an interesting survey of Waldorf High Schools from around the country and what they are doing with their computer curriculums – you can really see the diversity in approaches in this document: http://waldorfresearchinstitute.org/pdf/RCCompCurrSurv.pdf
Finally, here is a 274 page report about Science Education in Waldorf Schools from elementary schools through high school; the articles about computers starts around page 182: http://www.waldorfresearchinstitute.org/pdf/Science-Curriculum.pdf
And, specific to Waldorf homeschooling, Eugene Schwartz offered a talk here through the Waldorf Connection, but I have not listened to it so I don’t know what was said! Here is the link: http://thewaldorfconnection.com/computerswaldorf/. It sounds very interesting!
Here are several articles dealing with Waldorf Education and computers from a more general perspective:
- “Fools Gold By Alliance for Childhood”: http://drupal6.allianceforchildhood.org/fools_gold
- A Technology Resource List by Alliance for Childhood: http://drupal6.allianceforchildhood.org/fools_gold
- Here is a project by a Class 11 Waldorf student regarding computers in Waldorf Education, really interesting!: http://mysite.mweb.co.za/residents/beehive/home2.html
- So, again, from a general lifestyle perspective, please remember that most Waldorf schools encourage the elimination of media (and media means all visual and aural electronic devices, including videos, DVDs, video games, CD players, IPods, MP3 players, computers, computer games, television, radio/recorded music, Kindles and NOOKs) in the kindergarten through fifth grade, and ideally through eighth grade. You can see more about media usage in the “Pondering Portals” series on this blog:
- https://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/03/17/pondering-portals-part-three-media/ and here:
First to say I have learned so much from your thoughtful blog. thank you. The elimination of media thru fifth grade is, sadly not something we can do. The amount of control we’d need over our kids lives since we live in a big city is too much. We have chosen to try for thru age seven and then as thoughtfully as possible curate and introduce media or talk about it when we have too. We are surrounded by museums with video, taxis with TVs, bus stands with moving image ads, friends with iphones/ipad and subways and buses filled with people looking down at a myriad of devices. We found it impossible to cast a blind eye. Our daughter asks why we don’t have TV we say we prefer reading. We lead by example and yet, I teach storytelling on computers and my husband creates images on them. It is a real balancing act. When is the message inconsistent? We are know very soon our daughter will come across a TV show or game on a device simply because we cannot keep her in a cocoon and everywhere we go there are these things. If you have any guidance , please let me know. Thanks.
There is one area where there is some variation, which is that our daughter is currently attending the Otto Specht school, a Waldorf special needs school. In this school they use “common sense” and do bring the computer in for typing if handwriting is really a struggle and slowing the child down during lessons. They do still practice handwriting and Form Drawing of course, but will use the computer as tool when the child clearly needs it.
Yes, Stephanie..I am so glad you brought this up, I meant to include it. At your daughter’s school, do you know what grade they start computers or is it an individual by individual case basis?
Hi, Carrie. Thanks for all your work. I really enjoy reading your articles and I love sharing them with other parents. Our middle son is in class 6 and started having a social pressure to have ipod. Our oldest is a boy who won’t care so much about what others are having but this middle boy really wants to feel connected with his friends and feels more and more isolated as he has no ipod. The phrase most of us have been through, ” Everyone’s got it except me!” came in. I noticed his changes and he is preparing to enter the teenage years. The force is moving inwards more and more and his body movements is heavier and heavier. I hesitant to give ipod as this will be a perfect tool for this age to shut the door and stop communicate with parents. The need of communication will be greater than ever at this age so the relationship grows healthier and balanced rather than he just put the earphones and shut us out from his inner world.
I suggested his class teacher to bring this subject to the parents evening so I can understand the situation in the class and other parent’s thought. Is there any resource you can provide me so the discussion will be productive and everyone can think deeper what affect ipod ( or ipad, computer games and TV) will bring into this age and their friendship as well as the relationship with parents?
I am thinking of suggesting to make a book lists so children can swap some books and create some common interests. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!
Hi there beautiful Kima!
Did you see my husband’s post specific to gaming? I know you didn’t ask about gaming, but since you were asking about resources. I wonder if the Alliance for Childhood’s article, “Fool’s Gold” would be helpful to you? The other resource I thought of was the Physicians’ Association for Anthroposophic Medicine – I don’t know if they have articles there that would be helpful, but I would be willing to bet an anthroposophic physician would have interesting things to say on this subject. See their website for more help: https://paam.wildapricot.org/ Other resources I could think of would be to discuss cyber bullying, cyber safety, and how what you say online can damage your reputation and career forever. Microsoft has information about that here: https://www.microsoft.com/about/philanthropies/youthspark/youthsparkhub/programs/onlinesafety/ I am very sad that many parents do not seem to set boundaries on media with their children. There have been many articles about Steve Jobs and how he had stringent restrictions for his own children with media: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/11/fashion/steve-jobs-apple-was-a-low-tech-parent.htm
THe other suggestion I have is to run a parent book club around Betty Staley’s “Between Form and Freedom”. In an age when many parents seem to get more and more hands off with the 10-14 year olds, I think there are good reasons if you look ahead to see how the REAL teenaged years are, which to me are more the neurodevelopmental changes around the 15/16 change. Perhaps if you have a Waldorf high school nearby, some of the high school teachers could come to your school for this meeting and talk about technology and how it is used in a healthy way in the high school years (and why this isn’t necessary in only Class 6).
Just some ideas, I hope you find something that resonates with you.
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