Waldorf education develops well-rounded human beings, and gives students the capacity to engage in the world through their imagination, thoughts, and deeds. Our emphasis on hands-on learning without the aid of computer technology in the early grades is a fundamental aspect of our pedagogy. We also recognize the critical importance of delivering an educational program that integrates digital media and technology at developmentally appropriate ages.
At the Rudolf Steiner School, access to computers begins in 4th grade, when students learn to use the electronic card catalog in the Lower School Library. In 7th and 8th grades, our students begin to use technology in a variety of ways to support and broaden their work – word processing is sometimes acceptable for homework, and research on computers may also be included for specific classroom activities.
By high school, technology is an essential component of academic research, a stimulant for intellectual exploration, and a threshold into global inquiry and dialogue. Computers are used for research, writing papers, and to word-process many of the main lesson books created by the students. During daily classes, students often give presentations in PowerPoint or in video format. The high school library has ten computers that offer access to an educational database, available to students for in-depth research and access to primary documents. Students are taught important information about plagiarism, footnotes and citations, and formatting guidelines for college submissions. We also have a Technology Lab in the basement, which has twelve state-of-the-arts computers available for general use as well as photography electives, the development of student portfolios, and the compilation of The Spectrum, our school yearbook.
In addition, our new Web site, allows students to use computers to access school information. Depending upon the instructor and the course, syllabi, homework assignments, calendars, and music clips are available, along with parent and faculty directories, athletic calendars and directions to games, and news about special events. For the public, Admissions application forms are processed on-line.
As the school moves towards a more streamlined, paperless administration, the wealth of resources available through the web site will simplify tasks that occur outside the classroom. The web site will be woven seamlessly, although not invisibly, into the life of the Rudolf Steiner High School. This will, in turn, help provide our students with the skills to effectively use computer technology when they graduate. Employed by creative and resourceful faculty, this technology will strengthen our reflective, imaginative learning community.
Waldorf relies on a student’s capacity to engage in the world through imagination, and this is reflected in the school’s philosophy regarding exposure to media. In the lower school, parents are asked not to expose their children to the influence and content of television, film, and computer generated games.
In the high school, we stress to our families that serious concerns remain about the content of television, film, and electronic media. We also worry about the access adolescents have to the wide and mostly uncontrolled media available on the Internet. Many students do not understand the possible negative ramifications of what they post on the Internet, and need guidance and support from parents to avoid pitfalls that could have far-reaching consequences for their success in the future. We ask that high school parents be vigilant in understanding the challenges presented to their children at this impressionable age, and therefore guide them to make appropriate choices.