A New York Times story about Silicon Valley parents sending their children to Waldorf schools because there are no computers in the classroom is very interesting, but it misses an important point.
Despite their technology-free surroundings, Waldorf children are learning essential media literacy skills from the time they are very young. Digital media experts, like USC’s Henry Jenkins, have identified the skills children need in order to be “media literate” in today’s digital world, and they are all essentially behavioral and social skills including: play, performance, simulation, appropriation, multitasking, distributed cognition, collective intelligence, judgment, transmedia navigation, networking, and negotiation.
Waldorf schools, with their emphasis on hands-on activities, face-to-face interaction and collaborative activities, do a masterful job of cultivating these skills from the moment a child enters the multi-sensory wonderland that is a Waldorf kindergarten. As anyone who has spent five minutes alone with a child and any piece of technology already knows, teaching them how to use the tools is the easy part. The behavioral skills that help them become confident and competent users of participatory media take a little longer to cultivate.
Turning Students into Good Digital Citizens
John K. Waters, THE Journal, April 2012
Teaching and Modeling Good Digital Citizenship
Jennifer Roland, MindShift, March 2012
Why Digital Citizenship Must Be Taught in Schools
Scott Steinberg, All Things D, March 2012
Teaching kids to be ‘digital citizens’ (not just ‘digital natives’)
John Merrow, Washington Post, March 2012
Digital Citizenship: Boy, Are We Bad at This
Gregg Garner, EdReach, November 20011
Schools add internet etiquette, safety to coursework
Greg Toppo, USA Today, November 2011
Photo credit: The Pradhan Studios