The philosophy of Journey School is based upon an understanding of the developing child. While television and other media can serve as a source of information and entertainment for adults, children do not operate in the same developmental stage as adults. Educational research has shown that exposure to media entertainment for young children may have a detrimental effect upon their self- image, their ability to concentrate and develop attention span, their relationship skills, values, reading skills, physical skills, energy levels, psychological health, creativity and social behavior.
Because we believe that the impact of the electronic media can have detrimental effects on a child’s healthy growth and development, we encourage families to incorporate our media free philosophy into their children’s daily lives. To that end, we expect that our families significantly reduce or eliminate the use of media (television, videos, video games, computer games, i-pods, CD players, movies, etc.) for their children. We ask for complete elimination of electronic media during the school week, from Sunday evening to Friday after school, for grades K-5. We realize that limiting or eliminating media from your child’s life might feel like a tall order. However, with support and reassurance, families may find that more free time means more creative and quality time together.
1. Concerns about the effects of television have centered almost exclusively on the content of the programs children watch. Many might argue that watching a nature program is educational and good for the child. However, as Marie Winn states in her book, The Plug-In Drug, “It is easy to overlook a deceptively simple fact: one is always watching television when one is watching television rather than having any other experience.” Winn goes on to say that certain specific physiological mechanisms of the eyes, ears, and brain respond to the stimuli emanating from the screen regardless of the cognitive content of the programs. Television viewing requires the taking in of particular sensory material in a particular way no matter what the material might be. The sedentary mode of watching television does not match the active internal experience that occurs in response to what is being viewed. For example, one would not jump out of the way of an oncoming car that is on the screen, yet one may feel the anxiety, fear, and panic of the situation being viewed. There is, indeed, no other experience in a child’s life that permits quite so much intake while demanding so little output as watching television.
2. In order to function in a society which relies upon mastery of the spoken and written word, a child must acquire fundamental skills in oral and written communication. Frequent use of electronic media can be counterproductive to the development of brain functions needed to master skills such as reading, writing, arithmetic, and language development. It can also work against the natural development of analytical thinking. Joseph Chilton Pearce, an internationally renowned educator, author and lecturer, states that the child’s first seven years are devoted to development of the symbolic, metaphoric language structure in the mid-brain and that all future cognitive development rests on the integrated functioning of the right and left sides of the brain. Television viewing disrupts this development and can cause a child to be easily distracted and bored. Reading, writing, speaking, and reasoning are functions of the left side of the brain. This is the part of the brain that orders data and analyzes what it perceives. The right side of the brain perceives the world as a whole and does not code and decode as does the left side. Television viewing engages the right side of the brain, and as a child is inundated with the short sequences and the accelerated pace found in any television program, the ability to use the symbolic analytical-thinking brain functions may be diminished.
3. Real multi-sensory experiences are the seeds of imagination and creativity. It is important that your child be able to absorb the curriculum of the day – without electronic interference – in order to integrate and process it during sleeping hours. This is how learning becomes an integral part of life. Allowing your child to attend to the tasks of growing and learning without the stimulation of electronic media will enhance their ability to focus and become immersed in the day’s curriculum.
4. We encourage you to speak with staff or other parents in the school for suggestions, support and resources that you might find helpful on this subject.
“Joy and happiness in living, a love of all existence, a power and energy for work – such are among the lifelong results of a right cultivation of the feeling for beauty and art.”
– Rudolf Steiner