Has Public Education Been Left Behind?

Sir Ken Robinson discusses how it is our educational paradigm itself that has been left behind, taking our children and our future with it.  More of the same will only create more of the same–rising ADHD and dropout rates, and children who are woefully unprepared for the future.  He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.  These are the things the Waldorf school does so well.

Watch Sir Ken here.

 

 

 

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The Art and Science of Imagination

As part of our re-branding last year, the Da Vinci Waldorf School wrote a new tag line: “The art and science of imagination.” One of the fundamentals of Waldorf education is developing a child’s imagination. From the pictures the preschool child creates in her mind when she hears a fairy tale to the connections the middle school student experiences between his own inner life and the chemistry of combustion and crystallization, Waldorf education is designed to nurture this innate part of the growing human being. People looking at Waldorf from the outside often wonder at the value of so much emphasis on play and imagination. The Waldorf school can look like something from another century, with its simple tools, its emphasis on story and the arts, its insistence on getting children outside and letting them play freely with one another. However, you have only to look at the most cutting edge brain science to understand the value of these things. Imagination is key for the development of a healthy human being with the capacities to achieve personal success in the new “imagination economy” described by Daniel Pink in his book A Whole New Mind. Developing the imagination will give our children the capacity to imagine and create new designs, technologies, and solutions that we so desperately need. Imagination will also help them develop the moral intuition to navigate the complex issues that our modern world presents, such as the use of drones or the choices presented by the ability to perform genetic testing, among so many others yet unknown that will face our children.

If you’d like to read more about the importance of imagination and the results of its decline in recent years in areas as diverse as national security, economic security, and the development of new patents, this article is excellent:

http://www.rakemag.com/2007/10/death-and-life-american-imagination/

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Scientific Inquiry Among the Preschool Set

Scientific Inquiry Among the Preschool Set

 Still more evidence from the scientific community  that the wisdom of Waldorf is right on target. When engaged in what looks like child’s play, preschoolers are actually behaving like scientists, according to a new report in the journal Science: forming hypotheses, running experiments, calculating probabilities and deciphering causal relationships about the world.  Read the full article here.

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Not Only is it OK to Play, it’s a Necessity of Childhood

From Waldorf Today:
Children’s play is threatened, say experts who advise that kids – from toddlers to tweens – should be relearning how to play. Roughhousing and fantasy feed development.

Scientists disagree about what sort of play is most important, government is loath to regulate the type of toys and technology that increasingly shape the play experience, and parents still feel pressure to supervise children’s play rather than let them go off on their own. (Nearly two-thirds of Americans in a December Monitor TIPP poll, for instance, said it is irresponsible to let children play without supervision; almost as many said studying is more important than play.) And there is still pressure on schools to sacrifice playtime – often categorized as frivolous – in favor of lessons that boost standardized test scores.

“Play is still terribly threatened,” says Susan Linn, an instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the nonprofit Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. But, she adds, “what is changing is that there’s a growing recognition that the erosion of play may be a problem … we need to do something about.”

One could say that the state of play, then, is at a crossroads. What happens to it – how it ends up fitting into American culture, who defines it, what it looks like – will have long-term implications for childhood, say those who study it.

Read the entire article, Toddlers to tweens: relearning how to play

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Silicon Valley Waldorf School in National News Again

NBC News visited the Waldorf School of the Peninsula recently, to film a segment  The Waldorf Way: Silicon Valley school eschews technology.

The California Waldorf school has been getting plenty of press since the publication of an article in the New York Times last month.

The press has brought out the debate over whether high technology is necessary for children in grade school.

Check out the NBC video that shows why high-tech parents choose a school that picks blackboards over IPads.

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Holiday Faire

Saturday December 3rd, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
You’re invited to an afternoon of shopping and merriment, just in time for the holidays! There will be a large variety of hand-crafted, fine artisan creations and gently used books for sale. While you shop, the little ones will enjoy the supervised Children’s Wonderland and a variety of craft activities. Lunch, desserts and beverages will be available for purchase. Stop by to enjoy the food, company, music and shopping, while supporting our school!  This event is open to the public, so please feel free to invite your family, friends and neighbors.  Admission is free.

Click here to find out more details about the event! Holiday Faire

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Harvard Newsletter Considers Waldorf as Solution to Public School Reform

By Claudia Lenart

When I first wrote about Waldorf in public schools for Conscious Choice, some 12 years ago, examples were few and far between. There was Urban Waldorf in Milwaukee and a handful of charter schools in California and Arizona. The number of Waldorf-inspired public schools was up to 45 in 2010, with another 30 expected to open this year, according to the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education.

Those of us who have faith in Waldorf would like to see it more available. We believe all kids could benefit from Waldorf education.

A recent article in Harvard Education Letter, a publication of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, considers whether Waldorf is the answer to school reform.

Waldorf Education in Public Schools: Educators adopt—and adapt—this developmental, arts-rich approach says Waldorf is kind of like the slow food movement.

“In the quest to fix ailing schools, should we slow down to move faster?  Just as the handmade, home-farmed foodie movement is transforming how consumers view processed food, is education’s equivalent—Waldorf-style schooling that favors hands-on art and personal exploration while shunning textbooks and technology—just what school reform needs?”

Of course, coming from Harvard, the article repeatedly refers to the fact that there isn’t proof of Waldorf’s effectiveness.

That may be because standardized tests don’t reflect the multi-faceted human being. Regardless, it is an interesting read. Check it out.

Waldorf Education in Public Schools.

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AAP Says Screen Time Has No Benefits for Kids Under 2

The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) is once again urging parents that children under 2 should not be watching TV or spending time with screen media, while acknowledging that most parents ignore this advice.

This is the first time the AAP has updated its policy on screen time since 1999, when the group first recommended kids under 2 don’t watch TV and that parents limit screen time for older children.

In this newest policy the AAP tells parents that screen media has absolutely no benefits for children under 2, but has potentially negative effects.

The AAP research found that 90 percent of parents with children under 2 say they use some type of electronic media. The AAP says parents are being fooled into thinking some of these materials are educational.

The AAP warns that screen time takes away from valuable unstructured playtime. The report also warns of possible adverse effects of screen time for children including developmental delays in language and attention problems. The AAP warns media use has also been found to be associated with sleep issues, obesity and aggressive behaviors.

Waldorf schools have long been in the forefront of encouraging limiting or eliminating screen time for children. Waldorf education realizes the negative developmental impacts of screen time, while also recognizing that media interferes with imagination and that images from screens interferes with the learning process.

Read the full statement on media use by children under 2 in Pediatrics.

 

Read the New York Times article, Parents Urged Again to Limit TV for Youngest

 

Read the Washington Post article, AAP reaffirms no screen time for young children even though few parents listen

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Silicon Valley CEOs Send Children to Computer-Free Waldorf Schools

The New York Times published an article that looks at why many Silicon Valley tech wizards send their children to Waldorf schools, where children do not use computers. Technology experts say they believe technology has it’s time and place. Here is a clip from the article:

LOS ALTOS, Calif. —The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.

But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.

Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix.

Read the rest of this New York Times article, A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute, about the Waldorf School in Los Altos, CA

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Social Scientists Question Corporate Influences on Our Children

In a recent  challenging New York Times Op-Ed article, Joel Bakan, a Canadian Professor of Law, has identified a serious issue,  corporate uses of the electronic media to influence children’s  buying choices; thus threatening their psychological, social, and even their physical development.

Children between the ages of  2 and 7 see an average of  13,904 television commercials  per year, compared to 30,155 for 8 to 12 year-olds.   A significant number of these advertisements are for food and may be linked to the increase of obesity.

An article in Social Science Space, by Jerome L. Singer and Dorothy G. Singer of Yale University points to research about the negative effects violent videogames and media use by children. The Singers ask “Isn’t it time for our legal  and legislative policy-makers to pay attention to social science research in the area of children and the media?”

Read the entire article: Raising Our Children in an Electronic Media World

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