NEWS FROM THE GOETHEANUM
Dornach, 16 November 2018
The International Forum of the Waldorf movement endorses a developmental approach to the use of digital technology in schools
Digital technology provides human beings with fascinating potential and possibilities. At the same time we know it can also be misused for mobbing or phishing, and its use can run the risk of addiction. The Waldorf educational movement promotes a pedagogical approach to the use of media in which children and adolescents are first prepared step by step in their cognitive, emotional, and practical capacities so that they can embrace the digital world without falling victim to it.
Human beings need time to develop these uniquely human capacities. The more throughly human beings are able to develop these capacities, the more stable will they be in their personalities and the more secure in the application of their skills — and hence their command of digital technology. With the introduction of technological devices, human beings greatly expand the breadth of their abilities — and the more powerful these devices, the more a conscious and responsible command of them is needed.
The cognitive capacities needed for a healthy use of these devices are built upon a healthy development of the human brain. This development occurs in tandem with manifold perceptual sense experiences. From around the age of 12 begins the maturation of the brain's prefrontal lobes, by means of which the human being can begin to control emotional impulses and develop responsible judgment. In this way the human being can achieve self reliance and responsible action.
With this picture of human maturation as backdrop, the Waldorf educational movement endorses a developmentally oriented approach to the use of digital technology. An indirect pedagogical approach to media, on the one hand, focuses on the acquisition of relevant social and intellectual capacities; on the other, a direct pedagogical approach deals with media including the rightful use of digital devices. In consequence, during the kindergarten and early elementary years a Waldorf curriculum will emphasize the development of broad, primary sensory-based experiences of “analog” media such as hand writing. Only in later years comes an active engagement with digital devices.
In this context, the International Forum of the Waldorf educational movement calls for the right of kindergartens and elementary schools to decide for themselves how long the introduction of digital media should be postponed and when digital media should be introduced. Among other considerations, “pedagogical decisions concerning the use of digital media should not be determined by economic motives."
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