Media & Technology at Journey School

(Excerpt from the Journey School Handbook, pp. 24-29)

“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


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 think and process images at the same developmental ability level as adults. Children need hands-on, real, multi-sensory experiences to build their thinking capacities and these activities are the seeds of imagination and creativity. It is important that your children be able to absorb the rich artistic Journey School curriculum each 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 children to attend to the tasks of growing and learning without the stimulation of electronic media also enhances their ability to focus and become immersed in the day’s curriculum.

Extensive research has shown that exposure to entertainment media for children has 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.


As a school community, we agree that the impact of the electronic media has detrimental effects on a child’s healthy growth and development, and thus we expect that our families significantly reduce or eliminate the use of media (television, movies, video games, computer games, recorded music, radio, 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 find that more free time means more creative and quality time together. 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.

Middle School Media Guidelines

Middle school students are able to think and understand deeply about their world, especially after the 12-year change. In recognition of the maturing capacities and needs of the 12 to 14 year-olds, we encourage and will support parents to dialogue with their children in grades 6 to 8 about the appropriate use of media and technology. We support the use of appropriate technologies for study aids, word processing, and online research for grades 6 to 8 as determined by their teachers. We also support the use of technologies for students who need such accommodations as determined by the student’s teachers, in conjunction with parents.

At Journey, we suggest that your child should participate in media, not simply consume media. We recommend limited one-way media from Sunday evening through Thursday night (watching a movie). However, rather than simply consuming media, we encourage participatory media throughout the week (creating a movie). There is a vast difference between creating a short video that captures your friend’s multiple attempts to surf (and final success), than simply watching a movie.


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. Recommendations from the American Academy’s of Pediatrics based on media research indicate that parents should:

  • Allow children and teens to engage with entertainment media for no more than one or two hours per day, and that should be high-quality content. It is important for kids to spend time on outdoor play, reading, hobbies, and using their imaginations in free play.
  • Keep the TV set and Internet-connected electronic devices out of the child’s bedroom.
  • Establish “screen-free” zones at home by making sure there are no televisions, computers orvideo games in children’s bedrooms, and by turning off the TV during dinner.
  • Review TV, movies, and videos with children and teenagers, and use this as a way ofdiscussing important family values.
  • Monitor what media their children are using and accessing, including any Web sites they arevisiting and social media sites they may be using.
  • Model active parenting by establishing a family home use plan for all media. As part of theplan, enforce a mealtime and bedtime “curfew” for media devices, including cell phones. Establish reasonable but firm rules about cell phones, texting, Internet, and social media use.

See more at: Children.aspx – sthash.jbSlDHO4.dpuf

Digital Media Literacy in Middle School

Grade 6-8 students participate in our Digital Media Literacy Program. The overall goal of these classes is to prepare students to be safe, responsible, respectful and ethical digital citizens. The program starts in 6th grade with a full year of “Digital Citizenship.” In 7th grade we begin lessons in “Information and Research Literacy,” and then in 8th grade we move into “Media Literacy” and we start using “Info Literacy” skills when working on the 8th grade project.

What’s the Issue?

We may think of our kids’ online, mobile, and technological activities as “digital life,” but to them, it is a part of life. Their world is as much about creating media as it is about consuming it. Media devices have converged and become extremely powerful and portable. Phones aren’t simply for phone calls anymore but for listening to music, sending texts, filming videos, snapping and sharing photos, and accessing the Internet. Our kids use their computers to do their homework, but they also use them to socialize, stream video, and create movies and songs. And they can connect and communicate 24/7 from just about any location.

Why Does It Matter?

We want our kids to make good decisions so they can take advantage of the powerful technology that fills their lives. But in order to make good choices, kids must know how the digital world works. The very nature of the constantly connected culture means kids must understand the concept of privacy, so that what they post and create won’t hurt or embarrass them at some point in the future. The fact that much of digital communication is anonymous means that consequences can be separated from actions, which can lead to irresponsible or disrespectful behavior. Much of the task of childhood and adolescence involves figuring out who you are. But in digital life, anything said or posted can live on indefinitely and create undesired consequences.

The stakes are high because our kids’ technological abilities can be greater than their maturity and judgment. Having unrestricted access to information and people can result in gaining a wealth of information and experiences. But it can also mean accessing inappropriate contact and content. The difference between a great experience and an iffy one lies in the decisions kids make. Just as kids learn to eat properly, swim safely, or drive a car carefully, they need to know how to live in the digital world responsibly and respectfully. Their ultimate success depends on their abilities to use digital media to create, collaborate, and communicate well with others. Those who master these skills in using digital tools will be able to harness the digital world’s awesome power.

Some Helpful Media and Technology Tips:

Teach kids the skills they need to use technology wisely and well. It’s hard to be a gatekeeper in a world with no fences. Parents have little control over the flow of information to their kids, who see too much, too soon. We no longer hear conversations or see what our kids create and share with others. Since we cannot cover their eyes, or shadow them everywhere they go, we need to teach them how to behave responsibly in the digital world.

Keep an open mind. We don’t see the world the way our kids do. And we don’t help our kids when we judge their lives through the lens of a non-digital world. It’s important for us to understand that our kids will spend much of their lives in a connected world, where everyone creates and communicates.

Don’t be afraid. Parents can’t afford to be technophobic. Our kids adopt technologies faster than we do. That means they’re often way out in front of us. This fact can upset the parent-child relationship. So get in the game. Have your kids show you how to do something online if you don’t already know.

Share wisdom. Kids often don’t understand the implications of their actions. But we do. So we have to remember to extend our basic parenting wisdom to the digital world. We teach kids to choose their words carefully, play nicely with others, and respect their teachers. Now we have to extend those lessons to a vast, invisible world.

Pass along your values. One of the most important jobs of parenting is instilling in your kids the values you cherish. But in a digital world where actions are often divorced from consequences, where kids can be anonymous, and where they aren’t face to face with the people they communicate with, they can lose their way. As parents, we have to be able to translate our values into the digital world and help kids understand the implications of their actions.

Seek balance. It’s hard to know how much freedom to give kids. We want them to explore, enjoy, communicate, and create. We also want to be sure they are protected, or know how to protect themselves. If our kids are going to thrive with digital media, we must balance the negative with the positive, privacy with protection. As our children grow, they need more independence and privacy. But parents have to be sure their kids know how to be safe and responsible before letting them loose. Kids need to see both the possibilities and the perils of digital life, so they can act responsibly and seize all that is wondrous about digital media to enrich their lives.

–Adapted from Common Sense Media (Common Sense Media’s website is an exceptional resource for parents)


Middle School students (Grades 6-8) may bring cell phones onto campus. With teacher approval, cell phones may be used for emergency purposes or for arranging transportation after school. Otherwise, cell phones must remain turned off and remain in backpacks or within designated baskets during the school day.

When appropriate and with teacher approval, middle school students may use cell phones, tablets and/or computers for educational purposes (study aides, word processing, online research, photography, etc.)

In grades 3-8, mandatory standardized testing is driven by computer adaptive testing technologies. Students will access the test through I-pads or computers, using a secure online browser that disables all other websites and computer functionality. Screen time will be limited to a few hours and occur under the close guidance and support of teaching staff.

Parents – please use personal cell phones sparingly while on campus. Please note: several areas on campus are cell-phone free zones, including classrooms, kindergarten yard and all garden areas – cell phone use is not permitted in these areas at any time.