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Re: Memory and Record (was "old movies and Diana")

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  • winters_diana
    Keith (about Socrates) ... Okay – true. But personally, I expect far more from an educational system than this – especially one whose adherents claim to
    Message 1 of 20 , Jun 1, 2005
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      Keith (about Socrates)

      >I don't believe he wrote anything himself, no. But the actual point I
      >was getting at was that being literate - knowing something and being
      >able to access this knowledge - is not always synonymous with
      >critical thinking or mental acuity. It's possible to obtain facts
      >about something without evaluating them, or without evaluating them
      >in an analytical way. There are countless jobs and activities where
      >people do not question the underlying foundations of their work, and
      >usually because critical reflection is not part of the job
      >description.

      Okay – true. But personally, I expect far more from an educational
      system than this – especially one whose adherents claim to have the
      grand truths of the cosmos on their side, and to be shepherding the
      future spiritual evolution of humanity! You're tellin' me the best
      they can do is prepare kids for menial unthinking jobs?

      >Many tasks today are preformatted processes often tied to computing
      >and other automation. Tasks of a logical nature are often
      >externalised in computer programs. I'm not saying we should all
      >suddenly attempt to do all our work in our heads, but there is a
      >certain amount of mental laziness that creeps in and affects us all
      >as a result of the use of technology.

      I think you've gotten your arguments mixed up. You were trying to
      tell me why oral work was good rather than written, and you've segued
      into an anti-technology rant. You seem to not have noticed that by
      your own argument, the preference for oral versus written would work
      to prepare kids for these jobs involving mostly preformatted
      processes, where even if they have to "read" in the literal sense,
      they don't have to think much, or understand anything.

      >Also, my discussion of Socrates is not necessarily a reflection
      >regarding Steiner or Waldorf and it's teaching methods, but more
      >towards general comments regarding how we understand the
      >term "literacy".


      I guess I didn't get much out of it then. Sorry to (I realize) often
      come across so insulting, but let's face it, it was a shallow
      argument. No one argues that literate people (people who read and
      write well) don't, or shouldn't, ALSO be able to speak well or have
      good oral memories. Again – I'm not asking them to knock off
      storytelling in Waldorf schools, Keith. I'm asking them to ADD a huge
      hunk of time working on reading and writing, earlier and more
      enthusiastically (and start by getting some training in how to teach
      reading). Kids do NOT learn to read and write magically from hearing
      a lot of fairy tales or memorizing junk.

      Maybe you were just musing aloud about what the term "literacy"
      means, but I'm talking, as usual, about Waldorf education.

      I wrote:

      >Keith, Your comments refer to one type of mental faculty – rote
      >recall – the mind as a sort of tape recorder - and there are many
      >others. They develop in tandem; you can't wait till kids are 14 to
      >start encouraging questioning and intellectual work.

      Keith:

      >I agree.

      I think you've said you're not really very familiar with Waldorf
      education. Perhaps before reflexively defending it as something that
      must be nifty and cool just because it comes out of anthroposphy, you
      could learn more about it.

      They devalue literacy in favor of all this oral stuff.

      I wrote:
      >That is why schools, in general historically, value the written word
      >over oral, and ask students to produce their own original written
      >work sometimes years before this is done in Waldorf. That is how
      >information and facts are transformed into "knowledge," how we learn
      >to think, rather than repeat what our teachers told us.

      Keith:

      >Yes, that sounds right. My contention is that by clarity in mind we
      >become more critical of ideas, and sure, we should query everyone who
      >makes claims about a given subject including one's own teachers. I've
      >been a student to a fairly advanced level, and I definitely agree
      >that writing does provide a useful workshoping of ideas as I've
      >experienced that when researching and writing.

      Then why do you suppose in Waldorf schools teachers are often
      deliberately trying to slow children down in achieving this?


      The rest of your post also basically goes on agreeing with me. I
      would suggest you visit some Waldorf schools, ask if you can observe
      in their classrooms, if you think anything like the "workshopping of
      ideas" that you mention is actually going on there. It's exactly the
      kind of thing they consider "damaging" to children, and to be avoided
      as long as possible.

      Diana
    • kmlightseeker
      ... No, I m saying that many jobs are like this, requiring little critical thought, regardless of the Waldorf position on the subject. When I talk about jobs
      Message 2 of 20 , Jun 1, 2005
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        --- In anthroposophy_tomorrow@yahoogroups.com, Diana wrote:
        > Keith (about Socrates)
        >
        > >I don't believe he wrote anything himself, no. But the actual point I
        > >was getting at was that being literate - knowing something and being
        > >able to access this knowledge - is not always synonymous with
        > >critical thinking or mental acuity. It's possible to obtain facts
        > >about something without evaluating them, or without evaluating them
        > >in an analytical way. There are countless jobs and activities where
        > >people do not question the underlying foundations of their work, and
        > >usually because critical reflection is not part of the job
        > >description.
        >
        > Okay – true. But personally, I expect far more from an educational
        > system than this – especially one whose adherents claim to have the
        > grand truths of the cosmos on their side, and to be shepherding the
        > future spiritual evolution of humanity! You're tellin' me the best
        > they can do is prepare kids for menial unthinking jobs?


        No, I'm saying that many jobs are like this, requiring little critical
        thought, regardless of the Waldorf position on the subject.

        When I talk about jobs which do not require critical reflection, I'm
        including menial, service industry and many professional white collar
        jobs. They all have their own requirements, and some are more
        intellectual than others, but all rest on assumptions (ie. technical
        conventions, lingo, cultural attitudes, etc.) which they are expected
        to accept without question. Are you saying lawyers, office clerks,
        janitors and others don't run on auto-pilot and habit a lot of the
        time? They have undergone training, and in thier work they accept
        certain conditions and attitudes in their occupation, and it must vary
        from individual to individual how seriously they take underlying
        issues that may arise - how observant and conscious are they of
        potential problems or contradictions which may affect their work or
        that of their colleagues.

        >
        > >Many tasks today are preformatted processes often tied to computing
        > >and other automation. Tasks of a logical nature are often
        > >externalised in computer programs. I'm not saying we should all
        > >suddenly attempt to do all our work in our heads, but there is a
        > >certain amount of mental laziness that creeps in and affects us all
        > >as a result of the use of technology.
        >
        > I think you've gotten your arguments mixed up. You were trying to
        > tell me why oral work was good rather than written, and you've segued
        > into an anti-technology rant. You seem to not have noticed that by
        > your own argument, the preference for oral versus written would work
        > to prepare kids for these jobs involving mostly preformatted
        > processes, where even if they have to "read" in the literal sense,
        > they don't have to think much, or understand anything.


        No, I'm simply pointing to workplace conditions as they often are. I
        studied business-related and IT subjects over a period of 5 to 7
        years, and I'm practically familiar with the application of IT to
        business tasks. I'm not a technophobe, but at the same time I'm
        critical of the way technology is being applied at the moment. The
        style of work and the requirements of work have definite relations to
        how one thinks about things, even if the influence from this
        relationship might be relatively slight or seem so. There are more
        critics of technology issues than simply that of Waldorf and
        Anthroposophy, and the issues interest academia too.

        >
        > >Also, my discussion of Socrates is not necessarily a reflection
        > >regarding Steiner or Waldorf and it's teaching methods, but more
        > >towards general comments regarding how we understand the
        > >term "literacy".
        >
        >
        > I guess I didn't get much out of it then. Sorry to (I realize) often
        > come across so insulting, but let's face it, it was a shallow
        > argument. No one argues that literate people (people who read and
        > write well) don't, or shouldn't, ALSO be able to speak well or have
        > good oral memories. Again – I'm not asking them to knock off
        > storytelling in Waldorf schools, Keith. I'm asking them to ADD a huge
        > hunk of time working on reading and writing, earlier and more
        > enthusiastically (and start by getting some training in how to teach
        > reading). Kids do NOT learn to read and write magically from hearing
        > a lot of fairy tales or memorizing junk.


        No, literacy is absolutely necessary, but I'm not convinced that
        reading comprehension necessarily does anything more than teach that
        comprehension. I think it depends on the individual student where they
        will or won't take their lessons in or exposure to literature - they
        may treat it more creatively and personally expand their skills in
        that area, or they may not. Education is not just a matter of how
        something is taught, but how well it's received - why else do some
        students excel and others don't? It's because there are other factors
        outside of instruction which shape the choices and receptivity of a
        student: their own interests, their family, their peer group, etc.
        Literacy and numeracy are tools for the intellect to use, and attitude
        impacts on the receptivity of the mind to absorb ideas which make
        these skills workable. Memory and it's development therefore depend on
        the conscious activity and choices of the student. And when I say
        choice, I mean of course where this is applicable at a given age. Kids
        observe everything, and by observing they are evaluating on some
        level what their are receiving - their is a mental process going on
        and things are retained in memory, shaping the experience of the
        student. Memory and it's role is then a vital subject, I would think.

        Memorisation needs to be useful and practical, yes.

        >
        > Maybe you were just musing aloud about what the term "literacy"
        > means, but I'm talking, as usual, about Waldorf education.
        >
        > I wrote:
        >
        > >Keith, Your comments refer to one type of mental faculty – rote
        > >recall – the mind as a sort of tape recorder - and there are many
        > >others. They develop in tandem; you can't wait till kids are 14 to
        > >start encouraging questioning and intellectual work.
        >
        > Keith:
        >
        > >I agree.
        >
        > I think you've said you're not really very familiar with Waldorf
        > education. Perhaps before reflexively defending it as something that
        > must be nifty and cool just because it comes out of anthroposphy, you
        > could learn more about it.
        >
        > They devalue literacy in favor of all this oral stuff.


        While what I've read so far from Steiner on education makes sense, I
        concede that there are things I don't know (- of course!). Waldorf
        education may differ on some points to Steiner - we are talking about
        80 years odd down the track, and the influence of countless people as
        interpreters of of the Waldorf idea.

        There seems little point in them devaluing literacy - it is clear to
        mostly everyone, I would think, that numeracy and literacy skills are
        vitally necessary in society. It would make little sense for a
        formative years school not to provide instruction in those areas.

        >
        > I wrote:
        > >That is why schools, in general historically, value the written word
        > >over oral, and ask students to produce their own original written
        > >work sometimes years before this is done in Waldorf. That is how
        > >information and facts are transformed into "knowledge," how we learn
        > >to think, rather than repeat what our teachers told us.
        >
        > Keith:
        >
        > >Yes, that sounds right. My contention is that by clarity in mind we
        > >become more critical of ideas, and sure, we should query everyone who
        > >makes claims about a given subject including one's own teachers. I've
        > >been a student to a fairly advanced level, and I definitely agree
        > >that writing does provide a useful workshoping of ideas as I've
        > >experienced that when researching and writing.
        >
        > Then why do you suppose in Waldorf schools teachers are often
        > deliberately trying to slow children down in achieving this?


        It would be my opinion that maybe they are not understanding correctly
        the principles, or are overemphasizing their application at the
        expense of good sense and practical understanding.


        >
        >
        > The rest of your post also basically goes on agreeing with me. I
        > would suggest you visit some Waldorf schools, ask if you can observe
        > in their classrooms, if you think anything like the "workshopping of
        > ideas" that you mention is actually going on there. It's exactly the
        > kind of thing they consider "damaging" to children, and to be avoided
        > as long as possible.


        Well, I would disagree with them at this stage.


        Thanks,

        Keith
      • winters_diana
        ... Okay. Once again, I don t really know what or why we re discussing this, Keith. We agree there are many menial jobs in the world. Do we want education to
        Message 3 of 20 , Jun 1, 2005
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          Keith:

          >No, I'm saying that many jobs are like this, requiring little
          >critical thought, regardless of the Waldorf position on the subject.

          Okay. Once again, I don't really know what or why we're discussing
          this, Keith. We agree there are many menial jobs in the world. Do we
          want education to specifically prepare people for this?

          >When I talk about jobs which do not require critical reflection, I'm
          >including menial, service industry and many professional white collar
          >jobs. They all have their own requirements, and some are more
          >intellectual than others, but all rest on assumptions (ie. technical
          >conventions, lingo, cultural attitudes, etc.) which they are expected
          >to accept without question. Are you saying lawyers, office clerks,
          >janitors and others don't run on auto-pilot and habit a lot of the
          >time?

          But that's not *all* their job requires, and they couldn't perform
          the higher-level parts of such jobs (lawyers) without better
          education. I can't believe you would seriously argue that they'd be
          better served if reading and writing had been de-emphasized in their
          early education.



          >No, I'm simply pointing to workplace conditions as they often are. I
          >studied business-related and IT subjects over a period of 5 to 7
          >years, and I'm practically familiar with the application of IT to
          >business tasks. I'm not a technophobe, but at the same time I'm
          >critical of the way technology is being applied at the moment.

          Fine but again somewhere in the middle of this conversation we
          started having a different one. We were talking about the emphasis in
          Waldorf on oral recitation, oral storytelling, at the expense of
          sufficient attention to reading and writing, and you started arguing
          for *my* position, essentially, explaining that the "oral" emphasis
          is useful for menial stuff, people pushing buttons rather than having
          to think.

          >There are more critics of technology issues than simply that of
          >Waldorf and Anthroposophy, and the issues interest academia too.

          Of course there are plenty of critics of technology, I just don't
          know where, if anywhere, we are going with this and personally, I'm
          not really up for a debate on technology.

          >No, literacy is absolutely necessary, but I'm not convinced that
          >reading comprehension necessarily does anything more than teach that
          >comprehension. I think it depends on the individual student where
          >they will or won't take their lessons in or exposure to literature -
          >they may treat it more creatively and personally expand their skills
          >in that area, or they may not. Education is not just a matter of how
          >something is taught, but how well it's received - why else do some
          >students excel and others don't?

          Fine. More points there is no use in arguing. Education depends not
          only on the teacher and the school, but also on the student. Of
          course.


          >It's because there are other factors outside of instruction which
          >shape the choices and receptivity of a student: their own interests,
          >their family, their peer group, etc.

          Obviously.

          >Waldorf education may differ on some points to Steiner - we are
          >talking about 80 years odd down the track, and the influence of
          >countless people as interpreters of of the Waldorf idea.

          Steiner is still the predominant influence. Still, I personally do
          think there are things going on in Waldorf that Steiner himself would
          be aghast at. I think he would think the total media ban was
          completely ridiculous. I could be wrong, but I think he'd want to
          toss out these idiot teachers telling families not to use digital
          cameras, not to let their kids use instant messenger, not to watch a
          movie on Friday night, to make sure to keep the radio off in the car,
          debating whether Ahriman is in the iPod. He would laugh his ass off
          at this stuff, IMO.

          They do not have a cogent critique of technology, Keith. Computer
          use, for most people, is now basic and part of everyday life, like
          making phone calls, or getting around by automobile. It is very silly
          and kinda freaky to say little kids shouldn't go near it. Technology
          can be used wisely, or not, but to ban it is garden-variety silly,
          and the only people advocating such silliness are weird cults.



          >There seems little point in them devaluing literacy - it is clear to
          >mostly everyone, I would think, that numeracy and literacy skills are
          >vitally necessary in society. It would make little sense for a
          >formative years school not to provide instruction in those areas.

          Of course they "provide instruction," but the emphasis is clearly to
          institute a delay there, relative to where kids would be in another
          school. One effect of this is to make it difficult for the child to
          transfer to another school. This is not incidental.

          "workshopping of ideas" by writing about them:
          I asked:

          >Then why do you suppose in Waldorf schools teachers are often
          >deliberately trying to slow children down in achieving this?

          >It would be my opinion that maybe they are not understanding
          >correctly the principles, or are overemphasizing their application
          >at the expense of good sense and practical understanding.

          Maybe so. Or maybe they just take Rudolf Steiner's indications very
          seriously. All of this was Steiner's idea.

          Thanks, Keith.
          Diana
        • kmlightseeker
          Hi Diana, ... When you said menial I took it to mean you were referring to unskilled work. But professional jobs have a menial characteristic to them too,
          Message 4 of 20 , Jun 1, 2005
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            Hi Diana,

            --- In anthroposophy_tomorrow@yahoogroups.com, Diana wrote:
            > Keith:
            >
            > >No, I'm saying that many jobs are like this, requiring little
            > >critical thought, regardless of the Waldorf position on the subject.
            >
            > Okay. Once again, I don't really know what or why we're discussing
            > this, Keith. We agree there are many menial jobs in the world. Do we
            > want education to specifically prepare people for this?


            When you said "menial" I took it to mean you were referring to
            unskilled work. But professional jobs have a menial characteristic to
            them too, which I underlined and that I now understand we seem to
            agree on.

            No, I don't think education is about providing skills for menial work.
            However, there is a crossover between job/workplace skills and
            academic skills, naturally.


            >
            > >When I talk about jobs which do not require critical reflection, I'm
            > >including menial, service industry and many professional white collar
            > >jobs. They all have their own requirements, and some are more
            > >intellectual than others, but all rest on assumptions (ie. technical
            > >conventions, lingo, cultural attitudes, etc.) which they are expected
            > >to accept without question. Are you saying lawyers, office clerks,
            > >janitors and others don't run on auto-pilot and habit a lot of the
            > >time?
            >
            > But that's not *all* their job requires, and they couldn't perform
            > the higher-level parts of such jobs (lawyers) without better
            > education. I can't believe you would seriously argue that they'd be
            > better served if reading and writing had been de-emphasized in their
            > early education.


            No, I'm **not** arguing they would be better off not having reading
            and writing skills. It's the quality of thinking - the analytical
            skills, the ethical reasoning ability, etc. - which I think in a
            significant way affects the manner in which work is carried out, and
            the extent to which one accepts the mundane expectations of a given
            workplace. Reading and writing are tools, but thinking is also a vital
            tool. But many organisations care little about the ethical side of
            things, and more about the results.

            I know early education may have little to do with all of this, and
            more to do with the practical skills that children are taught - the
            basic R's. But once again, schools do not operate in a vacuum - they
            are entrusted with producing people who will contribute to society.
            I'm suggesting that part of this student training must produce a
            thorough cultural awareness, and a flexibility of thinking which can
            grasp things from different sides - a mobility of intellect. Perhaps
            these elements would be focused on in the curiculum for teenage
            students, but a balanced curriculum for younger children would be good
            also. And by balanced I mean all the necessary subjects together with
            those that encourage an ethical awareness and individual imagination
            and creativity - introducing moral philosophy in a manner which is age
            appropriate, and subjects that encourage individual artistic **freedom**.

            >
            >
            >
            > >No, I'm simply pointing to workplace conditions as they often are. I
            > >studied business-related and IT subjects over a period of 5 to 7
            > >years, and I'm practically familiar with the application of IT to
            > >business tasks. I'm not a technophobe, but at the same time I'm
            > >critical of the way technology is being applied at the moment.
            >
            > Fine but again somewhere in the middle of this conversation we
            > started having a different one. We were talking about the emphasis in
            > Waldorf on oral recitation, oral storytelling, at the expense of
            > sufficient attention to reading and writing, and you started arguing
            > for *my* position, essentially, explaining that the "oral" emphasis
            > is useful for menial stuff, people pushing buttons rather than having
            > to think.


            Well, no, actually I have been arguing that oral or verbal activity
            **supports** and is an expression of intellectual attributes like
            developed memory skills. I have never said that one should do away
            with reading or writing or neglect them for oral skills. I said that
            reading and writing serve the mental aspect, and are extensions of
            mental and verbal activity.

            Also, I agreed with you that writing and reading provide stimulus for
            the mind and develop understanding.


            >
            > >Waldorf education may differ on some points to Steiner - we are
            > >talking about 80 years odd down the track, and the influence of
            > >countless people as interpreters of of the Waldorf idea.
            >
            > Steiner is still the predominant influence. Still, I personally do
            > think there are things going on in Waldorf that Steiner himself would
            > be aghast at. I think he would think the total media ban was
            > completely ridiculous. I could be wrong, but I think he'd want to
            > toss out these idiot teachers telling families not to use digital
            > cameras, not to let their kids use instant messenger, not to watch a
            > movie on Friday night, to make sure to keep the radio off in the car,
            > debating whether Ahriman is in the iPod. He would laugh his ass off
            > at this stuff, IMO.
            >
            > They do not have a cogent critique of technology, Keith. Computer
            > use, for most people, is now basic and part of everyday life, like
            > making phone calls, or getting around by automobile. It is very silly
            > and kinda freaky to say little kids shouldn't go near it. Technology
            > can be used wisely, or not, but to ban it is garden-variety silly,
            > and the only people advocating such silliness are weird cults.


            Yep.


            >
            >
            >
            > >There seems little point in them devaluing literacy - it is clear to
            > >mostly everyone, I would think, that numeracy and literacy skills are
            > >vitally necessary in society. It would make little sense for a
            > >formative years school not to provide instruction in those areas.
            >
            > Of course they "provide instruction," but the emphasis is clearly to
            > institute a delay there, relative to where kids would be in another
            > school. One effect of this is to make it difficult for the child to
            > transfer to another school. This is not incidental.


            That scenario does seem strange. That wouldn't make sense if the
            primary object was to produce good students. The only motive I can
            think of for doing this is the success of the school as an
            organisation, and not the enrichment of the student, which in the end
            would be counter-intuitive. To do anything to retain funding at the
            expense of your ideals would be quite wrong, but maybe necessary if
            survival is a problem.


            Thanks again,

            Keith
          • kmlightseeker
            Hi Linda, ... And I think this opinionating might go on to produce some fairly political individuals. I think there is a tendency in the public sector to
            Message 5 of 20 , Jun 1, 2005
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              Hi Linda,


              > >
              > > > [Diana:]
              > > > I wrote:
              > > > >That is why schools, in general historically, value the written
              > word
              > > > >over oral, and ask students to produce their own original
              > written
              > > > >work sometimes years before this is done in Waldorf. That is how
              > > > >information and facts are transformed into "knowledge," how we
              > learn
              > > > >to think, rather than repeat what our teachers told us.
              > > >
              > > > Keith:
              > > >
              > > > >Yes, that sounds right. My contention is that by clarity in mind
              > we
              > > > >become more critical of ideas, and sure, we should query
              > everyone who
              > > > >makes claims about a given subject including one's own teachers.
              > I've
              > > > >been a student to a fairly advanced level, and I definitely
              > agree
              > > > >that writing does provide a useful workshoping of ideas as I've
              > > > >experienced that when researching and writing.
              > > > [Diana:]
              > > > Then why do you suppose in Waldorf schools teachers are often
              > > > deliberately trying to slow children down in achieving this?
              > >
              > > [Keith:]
              > > It would be my opinion that maybe they are not understanding
              > correctly
              > > the principles, or are overemphasizing their application at the
              > > expense of good sense and practical understanding.
              > [Linda:]
              > Waldorf schools do not "slow children down"~~they don't "speed
              > children up".
              >
              > In the Waldorf child development model, children by their own inner
              > nature are seen as possessing unique developmental needs and
              > capacities at different stages. The model is actually elegantly
              > integrated, and one that isn't fundamentally radical at all, but
              > actually quite traditional.
              >
              > Diana doesn't agree with this child development model, which is
              > fine. There are plenty others to chose from, and anyone can find
              > plenty of detractors for those too.
              >
              > But contrary to Diana's predictions and conclusions, I'd like to
              > testify that our Waldorf school develops remarkably thoughtful
              > students! It's not just me~~~I'm forever hearing comments from
              > others which reinforce this impression. It's not just my kids, but
              > their friends as well, who are so confident, poised, engaged, and
              > thoughtful in conversations that others with no relationship at all
              > to Waldorf remark to me about it all the time! It is a very healthy,
              > enlivened thinking. And well founded! Which is refreshing to me,
              > having suffered as a public school parent with the
              > insipid "opinionating" which was at least then the educational fad-of-
              > the-day in classrooms starting as early as 2nd or 3rd grade.


              And I think this "opinionating" might go on to produce some fairly
              political individuals. I think there is a tendency in the public
              sector to confuse critical thinking with political activism.

              I would think Waldorf should produce individuals with critical
              thinking ability, but in a balanced way. Good to hear that some are
              deriving something personally beneficial out of that education.

              [Diana:]
              > > > The rest of your post also basically goes on agreeing with me. I
              > > > would suggest you visit some Waldorf schools, ask if you can
              > observe
              > > > in their classrooms, if you think anything like the "workshopping
              > of
              > > > ideas" that you mention is actually going on there. It's exactly
              > the
              > > > kind of thing they consider "damaging" to children, and to be
              > avoided
              > > > as long as possible.
              > >
              > [Linda:]
              > Ridiculous.
              > > [Keith:]
              > > Well, I would disagree with them at this stage.
              > >
              > [Linda:]
              > More critic hyperbole.


              Is my statement, "Well, I would disagree with them at this stage."
              [Waldorf] critic hyperbole, or are you referring to Diana's statement
              above that line? I was saying that I disagreed with the sentiment of
              "workshopping of ideas" being "damaging for children", and if Waldorf
              took the stance that it was, I would disagreed with that stance.


              > [Linda:]
              > On the WC list recently, a Waldorf science teacher described a couple
              > of his classes experiments and lessons, and the students were shown
              > to be "workshopping ideas" all over the place. But of course,
              > because *nothing* is ever good to a critic when Waldorf does it,
              > these lessons were maligned because, it was argued, the students
              > formed the *wrong* ideas. This was a waste of time, and students
              > should just be fed the *right* ideas ("that's what textbooks are
              > for").
              >
              > There's no pleasing them. They have an itch of some kind, but I
              > don't think they *really* know what's causing it. That's why we see
              > them madly scratchin' just about every spot they can reach.


              Indoctrination finds it way into everything, it would seem. ;)


              Thanks,

              Keith
            • Jo Ann Schwartz
              ... This exchange just jumped out at me. All I can say is, *W*T*F*?!?! Diana, Keith, a computer is a TOOL. That s all. A *TOOL*. Back in the Dark Ages [tm]
              Message 6 of 20 , Jun 1, 2005
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                Diana wrote:

                >> They do not have a cogent critique of technology, Keith. Computer
                >> use, for most people, is now basic and part of everyday life, like
                >> making phone calls, or getting around by automobile. It is very silly
                >> and kinda freaky to say little kids shouldn't go near it. Technology
                >> can be used wisely, or not, but to ban it is garden-variety silly,
                >> and the only people advocating such silliness are weird cults.

                Keith agreed:
                > Yep.

                This exchange just jumped out at me.

                All I can say is, *W*T*F*?!?!

                Diana, Keith, a computer is a TOOL. That's all. A *TOOL*.

                Back in the Dark Ages [tm] when I went to school, there was a similar tool
                known as a *typewriter* -- you might have heard of it in your History of
                Technology class, since it is the origin of the incredibly inefficient keyboard
                we still use on computers (arranged in that strange "QWERTY" sequence because
                that sequence led to the least jamming of keys on the typewriter -- which used
                strange little levers to press metal type against a ink filled ribbon... oh,
                just google it if you're unfamiliar with the concept <G>).

                NO ONE back in those dark ages said kids should learn to use a typewriter
                before they got to high school (or 9th grade, if you had a 3 year jr. high and
                3 year senior high school.) NO ONE suggested that my life would be ruined if I
                didn't learn to type earlier. There were actually quite a number of people who
                suggested my life would be ruined if I *did* learn to type (being of the female
                persuation and all). Best advice I got on the subject, "Learn to type. Don't
                admit it." <G>

                The real question before us is, is there ANY REASON WHATSOEVER for children to
                learn to use the computer before high school, or middle school at the earliest?

                Waldorf says no. If asked, I point out that a computer will certainly help you
                write what you have to say more efficiently. Of course, first you have to
                *have something to say*. Waldorf concentrates on turning out students who
                *have something to say*. Learning to use the computer to express that
                something is a fairly trivial task.

                Of course, as a librarian, I'm not at all adverse to taking my children to the
                library to look up information for their school projects in <gasp> *print* --
                reference books, encyclopedias, circulating books, journals.... (OK, for
                journals we have to talk about how to locate articles and these days that
                generally means a database on the computer. Didn't really need to go there
                before middle school.) Once my eldest reached high school she did do research
                online, but she also used print sources as well.

                Musing computers are easy but thinking is *hard* *work*....
                JoAnn
              • kmlightseeker
                Hi Jo Ann, ... silly ... Yes, absolutely agree. I agreed with Diana s above statement because it would be silly to ban computers for that very reason, but at
                Message 7 of 20 , Jun 1, 2005
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                  Hi Jo Ann,

                  --- In anthroposophy_tomorrow@yahoogroups.com, Jo Ann wrote:
                  > Diana wrote:
                  >
                  > >> They do not have a cogent critique of technology, Keith. Computer
                  > >> use, for most people, is now basic and part of everyday life, like
                  > >> making phone calls, or getting around by automobile. It is very
                  silly
                  > >> and kinda freaky to say little kids shouldn't go near it. Technology
                  > >> can be used wisely, or not, but to ban it is garden-variety silly,
                  > >> and the only people advocating such silliness are weird cults.
                  >
                  > Keith agreed:
                  > > Yep.
                  >
                  > This exchange just jumped out at me.
                  >
                  > All I can say is, *W*T*F*?!?!
                  >
                  > Diana, Keith, a computer is a TOOL. That's all. A *TOOL*.


                  Yes, absolutely agree. I agreed with Diana's above statement because
                  it would be silly to ban computers for that very reason, but at the
                  same time the use of computer can encourage certain negative habits
                  and ways of thinking. However, while It's always a tool and only a
                  machine, it can by it's nature serve as a catalyst for unsavoury
                  mental patterns in the user if he/she allows it to. What I'm talking
                  about as the negative effects of computer: tirednesss, eye strain,
                  compulsive need to access data, non-reflective thinking, unrealistic
                  expectations of life/impatience, etc. Questions about health and
                  balanced psychology arise when we consider that information technology
                  creates an expectation for instant gratification of needs and wants in
                  computer users, and they can as a result let their health suffer if
                  they fall into a habitual pattern of overuse.

                  That said, computers in a school environment are generally more
                  tightly controlled, and these problems will probably not arise in that
                  environment. Constructive and moderate use of computers is a good
                  thing, but it depends on who controls the access to them and how they
                  think about the computer as a tool. It's very easy for adults to make
                  computing habit forming (I should know as much as anyone), so
                  logically kids will also be receptive to computing habits. You want to
                  prevent overuse by encouraging healthy strategies in children
                  regarding computer use. I'm not saying one should be fearful of
                  computers, but instead recognize the realities about potential
                  problems. Many of the subtler, long term effects of computer use and
                  technology and computer use in society are either not thought about or
                  are unknown - the effects may be cultural and social, affecting the
                  social structures and norms of society. How do we know where
                  technology is taking us? The developments in IT requires a lot of
                  close observation in my view, where the benefits can also have their
                  downside.

                  >
                  > Back in the Dark Ages [tm] when I went to school, there was a
                  similar tool
                  > known as a *typewriter* -- you might have heard of it in your History of
                  > Technology class, since it is the origin of the incredibly
                  inefficient keyboard
                  > we still use on computers (arranged in that strange "QWERTY"
                  sequence because
                  > that sequence led to the least jamming of keys on the typewriter --
                  which used
                  > strange little levers to press metal type against a ink filled
                  ribbon... oh,
                  > just google it if you're unfamiliar with the concept <G>).
                  >
                  > NO ONE back in those dark ages said kids should learn to use a
                  typewriter
                  > before they got to high school (or 9th grade, if you had a 3 year
                  jr. high and
                  > 3 year senior high school.) NO ONE suggested that my life would be
                  ruined if I
                  > didn't learn to type earlier. There were actually quite a number of
                  people who
                  > suggested my life would be ruined if I *did* learn to type (being of
                  the female
                  > persuation and all). Best advice I got on the subject, "Learn to
                  type. Don't
                  > admit it." <G>


                  Sure, but computing unlike typewriting involves getting used to a
                  variety of formats and programs for different tasks - linguistic,
                  calculative, archival, audio-visual, interactive, etc. :/ :)

                  >
                  > The real question before us is, is there ANY REASON WHATSOEVER for
                  children to
                  > learn to use the computer before high school, or middle school at
                  the earliest?
                  >
                  > Waldorf says no. If asked, I point out that a computer will
                  certainly help you
                  > write what you have to say more efficiently. Of course, first you
                  have to
                  > *have something to say*. Waldorf concentrates on turning out
                  students who
                  > *have something to say*. Learning to use the computer to express that
                  > something is a fairly trivial task.


                  Exactly, and I agree with the import of those points.


                  >
                  > Of course, as a librarian, I'm not at all adverse to taking my
                  children to the
                  > library to look up information for their school projects in <gasp>
                  *print* --
                  > reference books, encyclopedias, circulating books, journals.... (OK, for
                  > journals we have to talk about how to locate articles and these days
                  that
                  > generally means a database on the computer. Didn't really need to
                  go there
                  > before middle school.) Once my eldest reached high school she did
                  do research
                  > online, but she also used print sources as well.
                  >
                  > Musing computers are easy but thinking is *hard* *work*....
                  > JoAnn


                  I prefer the multi-volume encyclopeadias in cd-rom format. I love
                  reference works in whatever media they come in. I recall the claim
                  that the benefit of non-internet based information sources is that
                  (for now anyway) they tend to be carefully evaluated by mainstream
                  entities/organisations for accuracy and quality which you don't
                  necessarily have with internet-based information (I guess we could
                  take as an exception to this the online content produced by
                  "mainstream" companies).


                  Thanks,

                  Keith
                • Frank Thomas Smith
                  (snip) ... The main problem with computers in early grades is that they replace the teacher, they erase the HUMAN element, which is just what small kids need -
                  Message 8 of 20 , Jun 2, 2005
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                    (snip)

                    Keith:
                    > That said, computers in a school environment are generally more
                    > tightly controlled, and these problems will probably not arise in that
                    > environment. Constructive and moderate use of computers is a good
                    > thing, but it depends on who controls the access to them and how they
                    > think about the computer as a tool. It's very easy for adults to make
                    > computing habit forming (I should know as much as anyone), so
                    > logically kids will also be receptive to computing habits. You want to
                    > prevent overuse by encouraging healthy strategies in children
                    > regarding computer use. I'm not saying one should be fearful of
                    > computers, but instead recognize the realities about potential
                    > problems. Many of the subtler, long term effects of computer use and
                    > technology and computer use in society are either not thought about or
                    > are unknown - the effects may be cultural and social, affecting the
                    > social structures and norms of society. How do we know where
                    > technology is taking us? The developments in IT requires a lot of
                    > close observation in my view, where the benefits can also have their
                    > downside.

                    The main problem with computers in early grades is that they replace the
                    teacher, they erase the HUMAN element, which is just what small kids need -
                    that aside from the other imo secondary disadvantages. Anyone can learn to
                    use a computer in a week. The 8th or 9th grades, when practicaly all kids -
                    (at least those from the middle classes and up) will already know how to use
                    them, but then they can be taught the mathematical and technical thinking
                    behind them.
                    Frank
                  • Frank Thomas Smith
                    ... need - ... kids - ... use ... By middle classes I meant the social middle class, that is, very poor children probably won t have learned to use computers
                    Message 9 of 20 , Jun 2, 2005
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                      I wrote:
                      > The main problem with computers in early grades is that they replace the
                      > teacher, they erase the HUMAN element, which is just what small kids
                      need -
                      > that aside from the other imo secondary disadvantages. Anyone can learn to
                      > use a computer in a week. The 8th or 9th grades, when practicaly all
                      kids -
                      > (at least those from the middle classes and up) will already know how to
                      use
                      > them, but then they can be taught the mathematical and technical thinking
                      > behind them.

                      By "middle classes" I meant the social middle class, that is, very poor
                      children probably won't have learned to use computers
                      Frank
                    • Jo Ann Schwartz
                      Hi Keith, So, if we agree that the computer is a tool, then the question becomes, What is the appropriate age for children to learn to use this particular
                      Message 10 of 20 , Jun 2, 2005
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                        Hi Keith,

                        So, if we agree that the computer is a tool, then the question becomes, What is
                        the appropriate age for children to learn to use this particular tool? Is it
                        in high school? middle school? first grade? kindergarten? even earlier?? (You
                        laugh, but there are "sesame street" games out there designed for two and three
                        year olds.) Although Diana points out that "Computer use, for most people, is
                        now basic and part of everyday life, like making phone calls, or getting around
                        by automobile" I will note that we do *not* therefore encourage pre-schoolers
                        -- or even elementary school students -- to learn how to drive.

                        As you noted, computer usage has a lot of downsides, downsides that may be
                        magnified for children -- even older children. My sixth grader and her cohort
                        seem to have discovered instant messaging this year, and use it with a
                        vengance. Talk to multiple friends at once and not have mom and dad yelling
                        because you are on the phone! Whoo-Hoo!! (We are in an urban area; most of the
                        kids have access to a cable modem, so they are not tying up the phone to be
                        online.) I've had more than a few chats with my daughter about how 'talking'
                        via the computer is different than talking face to face -- no cues from
                        intonation or facial expressions or body language to take the sting out of
                        those words just sitting there on the screen. (Yeah, you can use smilies --
                        not quite the same.)

                        Which leads to Frank's observation that the computer minimizes, or eliminates
                        altogether, the student's interaction with a living teacher. I'm old-fashioned
                        enough to think that this human element is important for learning -- especially
                        with young children -- at least through elementary/middle school and probably
                        much farther than that. Heck, I know folks who changed what they were going to
                        study in college because they ran into an exceptional teacher who inspired them
                        to delve deeply into a topic they didn't even know they were interested in.
                        And educators know it -- that's the real reason behind all those boring
                        "distribution requirements" that universities inflict on their students. <G>

                        You also observe:
                        > Sure, but computing unlike typewriting involves getting used to a
                        > variety of formats and programs for different tasks - linguistic,
                        > calculative, archival, audio-visual, interactive, etc. :/ :)

                        And are any of these tasks made more difficult because you learn how to do them
                        without a computer first? Should a first grader be using a computer (or a
                        calculator or even an electro-mechanical adding machine <G>) to calculate her
                        multiplication tables or add up 2 + 5? Is a word-processed main lesson book a
                        better archive of what my sixth grader learned about geology than the
                        beautifully hand-written and illustrated main lesson book (on acid free paper)
                        that she produced in class? Just how archival are computer-produced or
                        computer-recorded documents/images/data? Rumor has it that data collected by
                        NASA on the first orbital flights and stored on computer tape is disintegrating
                        with the computer tapes -- which we can't read anyhow because we don't have the
                        equipment any more. Heck, my husband has a number of pieces that he originally
                        stored on 5 1/4" floppy disks, then transferred to 3.5" floppy disks, then
                        transferred to a ZIP disk, and then, most recently, transferred to a CDROM. He
                        would have been better off printing it out on good quality paper!

                        While audio-visual presentations are easier to produce using a computer, is
                        that what we want our elementary students to be doing? What do we cut out of
                        the curriculum in order to put in movie making?

                        I'm not against computers. I'm just unpersuaded that computers in the
                        classroom, and in particular, in the *elementary* school classroom add more
                        value than they cost -- both in $$$ and in what gets left out of the children's
                        education as a result.

                        Musing Bits and Bytes and Electrons, Oh My!
                        JoAnn
                      • Frank Thomas Smith
                        ... more ... children s ... Speaking of $$$, computers in classrooms is a huge business for the hardware and software manufacturers and vendors, and you can
                        Message 11 of 20 , Jun 2, 2005
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                          JoAnn:
                          > I'm not against computers. I'm just unpersuaded that computers in the
                          > classroom, and in particular, in the *elementary* school classroom add
                          more
                          > value than they cost -- both in $$$ and in what gets left out of the
                          children's
                          > education as a result.

                          Speaking of $$$, computers in classrooms is a huge business for the hardware
                          and software manufacturers and vendors, and you can bet you ass (not yours,
                          JoAnn) that they know it and their marketing people are working full steam
                          at it - and they're good at what they do. But they don't know shit about
                          education and couldn't care less. Anecdote: a couple of years ago an
                          Argentine who emigrated to Spain and made good at something to do with
                          computers, offered to donate 11 million dollars to the Argentina education
                          system for computers and a website about education. Wow, was he a hero - for
                          a while. The govt and media made him out to be a cultural saviour. His
                          businesss improved considerably as well. He may have been sincere, I don't
                          know him, but he doesn't know shit about education either. All these people
                          think that all schools, even in kindergarten (I kid you not, some
                          kindergartens in Buenos Aires offer computation and English, and parents buy
                          it) in order to catch up with the "First World".
                          Frank
                        • winters_diana
                          ... JoAnn, good grief, of course the computer is a tool, unfortunately this little nugget of common sense is itself what makes your attitudes toward it a
                          Message 12 of 20 , Jun 2, 2005
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                            JoAnn:
                            >This exchange just jumped out at me.

                            >All I can say is, *W*T*F*?!?!

                            >Diana, Keith, a computer is a TOOL. That's all. A *TOOL*.


                            JoAnn, good grief, of course the computer is a tool, unfortunately
                            this little nugget of common sense is itself what makes your
                            attitudes toward it a little weird. To try to keep one's three-year-
                            old away from the computer like it had cooties or something is as
                            silly as trying to make sure they never see anyone use a telephone.
                            It's modern technology . . . get over it.


                            >Back in the Dark Ages [tm] when I went to school, there was a
                            >similar tool known as a *typewriter* -- you might have heard of it
                            >in your History of Technology class,

                            JoAnn . . . I'm 43. I've used a typewriter. A typewriter is similar
                            to a computer in one function only.


                            >NO ONE back in those dark ages said kids should learn to use a
                            >typewriter before they got to high school


                            Your family computer does not play a role similar to a *typewriter*
                            Joann. You are not this simple-minded.


                            >(or 9th grade, if you had a 3 year jr. high and 3 year senior high
                            >school.) NO ONE suggested that my life would be ruined if I didn't
                            >learn to type earlier.


                            Actually, in my case, my father did suggest it was imperative for me
                            to learn to type. That way I could always get a job as a secretary,
                            and in fact, that was how you got entry-level publishing jobs: fast
                            typing (and a BA, but that was an afterthought).



                            >Best advice I got on the subject, "Learn to type. Don't admit it."
                            <G>

                            Well, these days, JoAnn, it'd be like saying "Learn to talk. Just
                            don't admit it." I have the general idea you are NOT a Waldorf zealot
                            and as I think you have teenagers, I bet you let `em use instant
                            messenger, don't you? (Oh god, don't you?) It functions just the way
                            the telephone did for us in school. I'd come home and call my best
                            friend right away (and my mother would say, "What do you have to talk
                            to her about? You just saw her.") My son and his friends do the same
                            thing, only they use IM. (Increasingly, to pester the girls, who they
                            think don't know it's them <G>)


                            >The real question before us is, is there ANY REASON WHATSOEVER for
                            >children to learn to use the computer before high school, or middle
                            >school at the earliest?


                            Waldorf says no.

                            And Diana says, that's completely absurd. Free your mind, JoAnn. The
                            computer is not analogous to a typewriter. Word processing is only
                            one function of the computer.

                            The computer is more properly analogous to the telephone, the old
                            Encyclopedia Britannica on the living room shelf when we were kids,
                            the public library or bookstore, stereo, cinema, art museum and
                            shopping mall and the family car to get you there, all rolled into
                            one, and a thousand other things too, a few of them unsavory . . .
                            It's increasingly central to how we work, play, do business,
                            communicate, and manage our lives.

                            It's ABSURD to say children can't use it.

                            I don't know about the rest of you, but in addition to it being my
                            work station, without which I could not do the work I contract, or
                            bill my clients for my hours, on our computers we do our banking,
                            read the news, make dinner reservations and buy movie tickets, plane
                            tickets, concert tickets, order prescription medicines, talk to my
                            mother and my husband and my friends and my child's teacher, make
                            lunch dates, communicate with the various volunteer groups that I
                            work for, check the weather and traffic, listen to Internet radio,
                            play solitaire, and google old boyfriends <G>. Not to mention argue
                            about Waldorf.

                            There's no reason my son can't use it too. It's not like doing drugs,
                            JoAnn.


                            >If asked, I point out that a computer will certainly help you
                            >write what you have to say more efficiently. Of course, first you
                            >have to *have something to say*. Waldorf concentrates on turning out
                            >students who *have something to say*.

                            Following this logic, of course, we shouldn't let them have pens and
                            pencils till they're a bit older, either. Oh – I forgot!! Waldorf
                            DOES withhold pencils from young children!

                            (See my earlier posts to Keith. You actually learn to think, you find
                            out what you are trying to say, with the pencil IN YOUR HAND, or,
                            rather now, the keyboard under your fingers.)



                            >Learning to use the computer to express that something is a fairly
                            >trivial task.

                            It's simple to use the computer, but it's definitely not "trivial" to
                            exclude kids from its normal use. The analogy would be to not let
                            them use the telephone. You could make the phone off limits till
                            they're about 14. Then, one day after you were sure their astral
                            body was in place, you could take a few minutes to explain and
                            demonstrate the use of this convenient device so necessary in our
                            daily lives . . . but you'd have done some very odd things to your
                            kid in the meantime, with this strange taboo. Their life would have
                            been . . . odd, their social lives peculiarly strangled, they could
                            only have been friends with children raised in other families in
                            this . . . cult.

                            Try asking your kid to explain to his friends that he's not allowed
                            to use the telephone till he's 14.

                            Who would do this? As I say, a cult. Religious nuts who want their
                            kids isolated. The rest of us *get* that it's a tool whose
                            responsible use we need to teach and supervise, and we expect the
                            school to help.

                            >Of course, as a librarian, I'm not at all adverse to taking my
                            >children to the library to look up information for their school
                            >projects in <gasp> *print* -- reference books, encyclopedias,
                            >circulating books, journals.... (OK, for journals we have to talk
                            >about how to locate articles and these days that generally means a
                            >database on the computer.

                            No kidding. <amused> Well, I'm glad you have modernized in your
                            household, and do allow use of a library!

                            >Didn't really need to go there before middle school.)

                            Well, I guess not, with your kids in Waldorf.
                            JoAnn, hate to tell you, but you've just said one of those quotable
                            things I'm afraid I'll need to spread around. You have just announced
                            that BEFORE MIDDLE SCHOOL there was no need for use of a LIBRARY for
                            your Waldorf children?

                            And you're *proud* of this?

                            My son's school has generally required him, since about third grade,
                            to use a mix of print and online resources for most projects, with
                            the preponderance in print, but understanding how to sort out what
                            one finds online will be central to being an educated person today.
                            It would be derelict to wait till high school or college to even
                            start.

                            Frank should back me up. The teacher who says a fourth grader
                            shouldn't look something up on google, watch a movie on the computer,
                            listen to Internet radio, e-mail his grandmother?

                            Fire the bastard!


                            >Once my eldest reached high school she did do research online, but
                            >she also used print sources as well.

                            JoAnn, obviously, your eldest got there around the time *all* of us
                            were getting accustomed to using the Internet in this manner. *All*
                            of us on this list can say we didn't use computers in high school, I
                            think (unless there are teenagers lurking).

                            Again I think the telephone is the simplest analogy. Countless
                            generations of human beings lived their entire lives never using a
                            telephone, but it would be very strange today to argue that children
                            need to be shielded from telephones, don't "need" to use them till
                            middle school perhaps . . . my grandmother, for instance, didn't live
                            in a house with a telephone till she was grown, and SHE turned out
                            all right . . .

                            Diana
                          • Jo Ann Schwartz
                            ... Er... No one I know at the waldorf school says that your three year old should never see you use a computer. When my children were three, both my husband
                            Message 13 of 20 , Jun 3, 2005
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                              Diana:
                              > JoAnn, good grief, of course the computer is a tool, unfortunately
                              > this little nugget of common sense is itself what makes your
                              > attitudes toward it a little weird. To try to keep one's three-year-
                              > old away from the computer like it had cooties or something is as
                              > silly as trying to make sure they never see anyone use a telephone.
                              > It's modern technology . . . get over it.

                              Er... No one I know at the waldorf school says that your three year old should
                              never see you use a computer. When my children were three, both my husband and
                              I were free-lancing and we have, even now, more computers than people in the
                              house. (My husband still free-lances.) Nonetheless, I just don't think a
                              three year old needs to USE a computer -- anymore than they need to drive a car
                              or use a chainsaw.

                              > >NO ONE suggested that my life would be ruined if I didn't
                              > >learn to type earlier.
                              >
                              > Actually, in my case, my father did suggest it was imperative for me
                              > to learn to type. That way I could always get a job as a secretary,
                              > and in fact, that was how you got entry-level publishing jobs: fast
                              > typing (and a BA, but that was an afterthought).

                              Well, I had no ambitions to go into publishing and I was advised not to admit I
                              could type so that I could *avoid* being a secretary. Didn't totally avoid
                              office jobs, of course, but I tended to end up in accounting running a ten key
                              adding machine. <G> I also turned out to be a terrific short order cook.

                              > >Best advice I got on the subject, "Learn to type. Don't admit it."
                              > <G>
                              >
                              > Well, these days, JoAnn, it'd be like saying "Learn to talk. Just
                              > don't admit it."

                              Again, I received this advice in the 'bad old days' when working women were
                              automatically relegated to the typing pool. I'm about a decade older than you
                              are, Diana, and when I was first entering the workforce folks were just
                              beginning to realize that women didn't *have* to be secretaries -- they could
                              do other things too. Thus the "Don't admit it" part of the comment. Of course
                              I needed to learn how to type -- I was going to college!

                              > I have the general idea you are NOT a Waldorf zealot
                              > and as I think you have teenagers, I bet you let `em use instant
                              > messenger, don't you? (Oh god, don't you?) It functions just the way
                              > the telephone did for us in school. I'd come home and call my best
                              > friend right away (and my mother would say, "What do you have to talk
                              > to her about? You just saw her.") My son and his friends do the same
                              > thing, only they use IM. (Increasingly, to pester the girls, who they
                              > think don't know it's them <G>)

                              Sure, my kids use instant messanger. (Heavens, do have a nice cool glass of
                              lemon water or something Diana, before you have the vapors!) As I noted in an
                              earlier post, my sixth grader and her friends all seem to have discovered IM at
                              once this year. Actually, the younger one will be IM'ing her friends and
                              talking to them on the phone at the same time! (They have also discovered how
                              to daisy-chain the three-way calling feature to allow six or seven kids to be
                              in on the phone call...) My kids even enjoy a lively email correspondence with
                              their grandmother and grandfather down in Florida. It doesn't follow that they
                              have a great need to use the computer at school.

                              > The computer is more properly analogous to the telephone, the old
                              > Encyclopedia Britannica on the living room shelf when we were kids,
                              > the public library or bookstore, stereo, cinema, art museum and
                              > shopping mall and the family car to get you there, all rolled into
                              > one, and a thousand other things too, a few of them unsavory . . .
                              > It's increasingly central to how we work, play, do business,
                              > communicate, and manage our lives.

                              Er... and what's wrong with the kids using the telephone or consulting a
                              (print) encyclopedia or going to the library and the bookstore to get out
                              actual books or magazines -- what do you have against PRINT, anyway? -- viewing
                              paintings and statues at the art museum or shopping at the mall? Why do you
                              assume that virtual is better? Better for whom? Virtual is more convenient
                              for you if you don't have to leave the house, but is it better for the kids?

                              > It's ABSURD to say children can't use it.

                              Never said children *can't* use it. What I *said* was that children don't
                              *need* to use it, and in particular that I saw no real educational benefit to
                              introducing school children to computer usage *in school* before middle school
                              at the earliest.

                              > I don't know about the rest of you, but in addition to it being my
                              > work station, without which I could not do the work I contract, or
                              > bill my clients for my hours, on our computers we do our banking,
                              > read the news, make dinner reservations and buy movie tickets, plane
                              > tickets, concert tickets, order prescription medicines, talk to my
                              > mother and my husband and my friends and my child's teacher, make
                              > lunch dates, communicate with the various volunteer groups that I
                              > work for, check the weather and traffic, listen to Internet radio,
                              > play solitaire, and google old boyfriends <G>. Not to mention argue
                              > about Waldorf.

                              Gosh, Diana. What a precocious child you must have!! Alas, when my own,
                              rather ordinary, children were in first grade -- or even fourth grade -- they
                              didn't *need* to contract for work, or bill clients for their hours, or do
                              banking. They weren't all that interested in the news, didn't ever seem to
                              make dinner reservations or buy their own movie tickets, plane tickets, or
                              concert tickets. (Well, hey, they didn't have any money since they didn't have
                              any clients to bill! <G>) At that age, they vastly preferred face to face
                              interaction with their family and friends and it was all I could do to get them
                              to say "hi" to their grandma when she called on the phone. (Nor was grandma on
                              the 'net six years ago since grandpa was stubbornly hanging on to his KayPro
                              computer; he only replaced it last Christmas.) They certainly didn't order any
                              prescription medicines nor were they particularly involved in volunteer work.
                              Since they didn't drive, they didn't need any traffic info. They checked the
                              weather by looking out the window or opening the door. I taught them solitaire
                              using an old deck of cards. We like cards in our family and as early as first
                              grade my youngest could play a mean hand of Euchre. (What can I say? We
                              needed a fourth. <G>)

                              > There's no reason my son can't use it too. It's not like doing drugs,
                              > JoAnn.

                              I never said it was like doing drugs, Diana. I merely stated my opinion --
                              clearly labeled as opinion -- that learning to use the computer was not an
                              appropriate activity for student in the elementary school years -- say, pre-K
                              to fifth grade. So while I think grade school children can certainly pick up a
                              modicum of computer skills if they have access to a computer at home, I'm not
                              at all convinced that they need to spend time on it at school.

                              > >If asked, I point out that a computer will certainly help you
                              > >write what you have to say more efficiently. Of course, first you
                              > >have to *have something to say*. Waldorf concentrates on turning out
                              > >students who *have something to say*.
                              >
                              > Following this logic, of course, we shouldn't let them have pens and
                              > pencils till they're a bit older, either. Oh – I forgot!! Waldorf
                              > DOES withhold pencils from young children!
                              >
                              > (See my earlier posts to Keith. You actually learn to think, you find
                              > out what you are trying to say, with the pencil IN YOUR HAND, or,
                              > rather now, the keyboard under your fingers.)

                              As I have pointed out in earlier posts, my children were deprived of neither
                              pencils nor reading materials in their waldorf school -- even in kindergarten.
                              I recognize that your experience was different. I also think you can learn to
                              think, to find out what you have to say by (dare I say it?) speaking! Talking
                              about it, with your friends and family and teachers. We do this rather a lot
                              at my house. We call it "conversation."

                              > >Of course, as a librarian, I'm not at all adverse to taking my
                              > >children to the library to look up information for their school
                              > >projects in <gasp> *print* -- reference books, encyclopedias,
                              > >circulating books, journals.... (OK, for journals we have to talk
                              > >about how to locate articles and these days that generally means a
                              > >database on the computer.
                              >
                              > No kidding. <amused> Well, I'm glad you have modernized in your
                              > household, and do allow use of a library!
                              >
                              > >Didn't really need to go there before middle school.)
                              >
                              > Well, I guess not, with your kids in Waldorf.
                              > JoAnn, hate to tell you, but you've just said one of those quotable
                              > things I'm afraid I'll need to spread around. You have just announced
                              > that BEFORE MIDDLE SCHOOL there was no need for use of a LIBRARY for
                              > your Waldorf children?

                              Diana! Please take off your anti-waldorf filters and read what I actually wrote
                              not what you *wish* I had written. The complete parenthetical phrase you were
                              quoting was: "(OK, for journals we have to talk about how to locate articles
                              and these days that generally means a database on the computer. Didn't really
                              need to go there before middle school.)" If you read this as a complete
                              thought, you will notice that I was saying that even at a library, you
                              generally need to use the computer to locate journal/magazine articles on a
                              topic of interest. Even my suburban library has given up on the print edition
                              of The Reader's Guide. For the record, my children have been going to the
                              library since before they were born (since I could never afford to purchase all
                              the books I read) and were allowed to select books to take home as soon as they
                              expressed an interest in doing so.

                              If you read the entire paragraph, you will note that I also said that it was
                              unnecessary for my children to use journal or magazine articles for their 4th
                              and 5th grade school reports on puffins or mushrooms or tigers or the great
                              State of Wisconsin. We could find the information they needed in the
                              encyclopedia or use the library catalog to find the proper Dewey range for the
                              subject and then browse the shelves. Sure, we could have found info on any of
                              these topics online -- but I don't think the children were irredeemably scarred
                              by doing it the "old-fashioned" way.

                              > And you're *proud* of this?

                              Yeah. I'm proud my children know how to use library resources. Heck, having
                              learned how to find out stuff on puffins for a school report, they went on to
                              find books on lizards and other animals or plants that interested them, just
                              because they wanted to know more about them.

                              > My son's school has generally required him, since about third grade,
                              > to use a mix of print and online resources for most projects, with
                              > the preponderance in print, but understanding how to sort out what
                              > one finds online will be central to being an educated person today.
                              > It would be derelict to wait till high school or college to even
                              > start.

                              Why, precisely, is it so terrible to point out that in researching matters of
                              fact -- where do tigers live, how do you grow mushrooms, what crops do they
                              grow in Wisconsin -- print sources, such as encyclopedias or
                              reference/non-fiction books which have been vetted by the publisher, are
                              superior to online sources of unknown provenance? One of the first things I
                              discussed with my kids when they wanted to use the internet for research was
                              this very question of how to verify the information they collected. How did
                              you know what sources the author had used? And once they did the research, we
                              further discussed the sources they found and how to pick and choose among them.

                              > Frank should back me up. The teacher who says a fourth grader
                              > shouldn't look something up on google, watch a movie on the computer,
                              > listen to Internet radio, e-mail his grandmother?
                              >
                              > Fire the bastard!

                              Er.... Diana, this discussion was originally about whether computers should be
                              used by the children as a part of their elementary education. (Thus the title
                              of the thread, "Computers in School.") That is, does an elementary school need
                              a computer lab? Are the children deprived because the school does not have a
                              computer or computers in each classroom? I believe my position is clear.

                              I bet if you checked, you would find that by fourth grade, lots of waldorf kids
                              are using computers outside of school for some activities, just as lots of
                              waldorf kids are watching TV, going to the movies, and listening to the radio
                              sans computer. The fact that this is so doesn't mean that these activities are
                              appropriate to *school*, however appropriate they may or may not be outside of
                              school. I would argue that they are not particularly appropriate even outside
                              of school for young children (K-grade 3) and are appropriate only in moderate
                              doses for older children (those 4th & 5th graders). Since your maya so
                              obviously varies, I guess we can all be glad that you found a school more
                              suitable to your views on child development and your educational philosophy.

                              Musing you say "potato" and I say "potahtoh"....
                              JoAnn
                            • winters_diana
                              This all really makes me laugh, JoAnn, because it s happened to me so many times! I have a conversation with a Waldorfer insisting technology for kids is bad
                              Message 14 of 20 , Jun 3, 2005
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                                This all really makes me laugh, JoAnn, because it's happened to me so
                                many times! I have a conversation with a Waldorfer insisting
                                technology for kids is bad and evil and wrong and the poor darlings
                                mustn't go near it. And I'm saying poo, don't be silly, just
                                supervise them and set some limits etc etc and don't be so chicken
                                little sky-is-falling about the silly old computer.

                                And then it turns out their kid uses the damn thing more than mine
                                does. It really cracks me up.


                                >Er... No one I know at the waldorf school says that your three year
                                >old should never see you use a computer.

                                Cool. Ours did. The pink cloth thing, you know. Christ our kids
                                weren't supposed to see *toasters*, or cereal boxes with print on the
                                side of them.

                                >When my children were three, both my husband and I were free-lancing
                                >and we have, even now, more computers than people in the house.

                                Well, there you go, you techno-zealot, at least we don't have more
                                computers in the house than people! (unless you count old ones, I
                                guess).

                                >(My husband still free-lances.) Nonetheless, I just don't think a
                                >three year old needs to USE a computer -- anymore than they need to
                                >drive a car or use a chainsaw.

                                Not equivalent, as using a computer they cannot kill or maim
                                themselves or anyone else, they way they could if you handed them a
                                chainsaw or asked them to drive the car.

                                >Sure, my kids use instant messanger.

                                Yes, more than mine, from the sound of it!

                                >my sixth grader and her friends all seem to have discovered IM at
                                >once this year. Actually, the younger one will be IM'ing her
                                >friends and talking to them on the phone at the same time! (They
                                >have also discovered how to daisy-chain the three-way calling
                                >feature to allow six or seven kids to be in on the phone call...)

                                See, mine's nowhere near that advanced technologically . . .

                                >Er... and what's wrong with the kids using the telephone or
                                >consulting a (print) encyclopedia or going to the library

                                Nothing, obviously, you are missing the point. The point is, as you
                                said yourself, it is just a tool. It is not "bad" or "good" to use
                                the computer any more than to use the (print) encyclopedia or go to
                                the library. In the old days, JoAnn, we went to the library and
                                didn't use the computer because we didn't HAVE a computer. Now we
                                have both and there is no need or point in vilifying one or the other
                                or declaring one "okay" or "not okay" for 8-year-olds, 10 yo's etc.

                                >and the bookstore to get out actual books or magazines -- what do
                                >you have against PRINT, anyway?

                                Me? Have something against print? You must be joking.

                                >-- viewing paintings and statues at the art museum or shopping at
                                >the mall? Why do you assume that virtual is better?

                                what would make you think I think virtual is better? What did I say
                                to make you think that?

                                >Never said children *can't* use it. What I *said* was that children
                                >don't *need* to use it,

                                And I'll just go back to the point I was trying to make, which is
                                that they don't "need" to use the telephone either, by the limited
                                argument that says 1) they can always learn to use it later, and 2)
                                it's somehow a negative energy in their lives or something. That's
                                just silly.
                                It's a tool . . .

                                >and in particular that I saw no real educational benefit to
                                >introducing school children to computer usage *in school* before
                                >middle school at the earliest.

                                Again, there's no argument to support what you are saying that we
                                couldn't equally apply to any other piece of technology or tool in
                                their lives, used in the modern world, right down to pens and pencils
                                and paper clips for that matter. All easy to learn to use at a later
                                date, if you really think they're going to be harmed by them at a
                                young age! Total nonsense.

                                >Gosh, Diana. What a precocious child you must have!! Alas, when my
                                >own, rather ordinary, children were in first grade -- or even fourth
                                >grade -- they didn't *need* to contract for work, or bill clients
                                >for their hours, or do banking.

                                Very funny, but you're missing the point. It's a tool . . . one that
                                we can introduce and teach them gradually to use responsibly - or
                                not, or we can act like it's bad and scary, at least until they're
                                14.


                                >I merely stated my opinion -- clearly labeled as opinion -- that
                                >learning to use the computer was not an appropriate activity for
                                >student in the elementary school years -- say, pre-K
                                > to fifth grade.

                                It's *quite* an appropriate thing for them to learn to use in school.
                                You've offered no explanation, so far, of why they shouldn't, and
                                I've offered quite a few reasons they should. (I can't help thinking
                                now of the people who are silent because they agree with me, like
                                Tarjei.)

                                >So while I think grade school children can certainly pick up a
                                >modicum of computer skills if they have access to a computer at
                                >home, I'm not at all convinced that they need to spend time on it at
                                >school.

                                It isn't hard, you know. It's not like it interferes with the school
                                day. You just do it, the same way you learn to write with a pen and
                                pencil, or the same way you learn to read books. There should be lots
                                of good books in the classroom, and the children encouraged to read
                                them, and similarly there are worthwhile things to read and do and
                                learn on the computer, and they should be encouraged to do so.



                                >I also think you can learn to think, to find out what you have to
                                >say by (dare I say it?) speaking!

                                Yes, that too! Is there a reason we can't or shouldn't do both?
                                Still, I'm firmly of the view that the first job of the school is
                                literacy. "Speaking" and "conversation" come quite a bit more
                                naturally, as you probably noticed in raising children.


                                >Diana! Please take off your anti-waldorf filters and read what I
                                >actually wrote not what you *wish* I had written.

                                I'm sorry if I misunderstood. You wrote that they "didn't need to go
                                there" right after writing about the library. I didn't take "go
                                there" to refer to a computerized database of journals, sorry.


                                >Yeah. I'm proud my children know how to use library resources.

                                Okay. I apologize. I thought you said they did not need to use the
                                library before middle school. I didn't understand it to refer only to
                                using magazine or journal articles.

                                >Why, precisely, is it so terrible to point out that in researching
                                >matters of fact -- where do tigers live, how do you grow mushrooms,
                                >what crops do they grow in Wisconsin -- print sources, such as
                                >encyclopedias or reference/non-fiction books which have been vetted
                                >by the publisher, are superior to online sources of unknown
                                >provenance?

                                That's no longer strictly true, I don't think. It is getting more and
                                more complicated to sort out sources, I think. If anything, kids need
                                more and more instruction in how to understand what is what online,
                                and probably most teachers aren't equipped to give it, 'cus they
                                don't understand it either. I don't think the answer to this,
                                however, is to wait as long as possible to even start.



                                >does an elementary school need a computer lab?

                                A computer lab? No, at least one computer in every classroom, though.

                                >Are the children deprived because the school does not have a
                                >computer or computers in each classroom?

                                Today, I would say yes, the school needs a computer in each classroom.
                                It would be like not having a blackboard.

                                >I bet if you checked, you would find that by fourth grade, lots of
                                >waldorf kids are using computers outside of school for some
                                >activities, just as lots of waldorf kids are watching TV, going to
                                >the movies, and listening to the radio sans computer.

                                Absolutely. What varies is only how much grief the school is giving
                                them about this. I've always thought Waldorf kids probably take in
                                nearly if not quite exactly as much media as other kids. It's just
                                wrapped up in guilt, denial, dysfunctional lying, and weird fears.


                                >The fact that this is so doesn't mean that these activities are
                                >appropriate to *school*,

                                I'm with you there. I'm actually annoyed by how many movies my son's
                                class watches in school. I keep wanting to say, geez, I can go to
                                Blockbuster you know, why is he watching movies in school? (Because
                                it's easier for the teacher.)

                                Thanks, JoAnn, very interesting.
                                Diana
                              • winters_diana
                                ... The real point was that JoAnn compared the computer to a typewriter, to suggest there was no reason to learn to use it before college, since SHE didn t use
                                Message 15 of 20 , Jun 3, 2005
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                                  I said to Joann:

                                  >Gosh, Diana. What a precocious child you must have!! Alas, when my
                                  >own, rather ordinary, children were in first grade -- or even fourth
                                  >grade -- they didn't *need* to contract for work, or bill clients
                                  >for their hours, or do banking.

                                  >Very funny, but you're missing the point. It's a tool . . . one that
                                  >we can introduce and teach them gradually to use responsibly - or
                                  >not, or we can act like it's bad and scary, at least until they're
                                  >14.


                                  The real point was that JoAnn compared the computer to a typewriter,
                                  to suggest there was no reason to learn to use it before college,
                                  since SHE didn't use it before college. I was pointing out the
                                  fallacy of suggesting the computer was equivalent to the role a
                                  typewriter played when she or I were of the same age.

                                  Diana
                                • winters_diana
                                  I was in several classrooms at my son s school today, and couldn t help thinking about the computers there. It s a K-6 school, and while I wasn t in either of
                                  Message 16 of 20 , Jun 3, 2005
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                                    I was in several classrooms at my son's school today, and couldn't
                                    help thinking about the computers there. It's a K-6 school, and while
                                    I wasn't in either of the kindergartens today so I can't say for sure
                                    about them, *every* other classroom has several computers, not just
                                    one. I had this issue on the brain, and was looking around for them,
                                    and was surprised by how difficult it was to locate them, there is so
                                    much stuff in those classrooms, they are so bright and colorful and
                                    lively and the kids are so continually in motion.

                                    I think somehow in Waldorf parents' minds, scared and brainwashed by
                                    so many years of hearing how horrible technology is for
                                    kids, "classrooms with computers" probably conjure up an image that
                                    is far from reality. My kid's school is SO chock full of SO MUCH
                                    STUFF that you have to kind of walk around looking for the computers.
                                    They tend to be jammed into corners. I think Waldorf parents imagine
                                    kids sitting in bleak rooms with nothing on the wall, no bookshelves,
                                    no comfortable seating, no nuthin' much 'cus they're all lined up in
                                    rows pressing keyboards, not talking . . . Actually, I even tend to
                                    forget that my son's classroom has several (yes; more than one) TV
                                    monitor/VCR/DVD player - because they're mounted high on the wall,
                                    and I never look up there, and no one notices them if they're not on.
                                    I was in there one day last week when they were going to look at
                                    something on a video and I was thinking "How are they going to do
                                    that"? because I couldn't remember where the monitor was, and
                                    couldn't locate it quickly looking around. I kept expecting it to be
                                    like the giant clunky projector things that had to be wheeled in and
                                    elaborately set up, with miles of wires and film reels, like when we
                                    were in school.
                                    Diana
                                  • Jo Ann Schwartz
                                    Tying up some odds & sods... ... Sorry, Diana, but you have no idea how much or how little my child uses the computer -- so how can you compare her usage to
                                    Message 17 of 20 , Jun 9, 2005
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                                      Tying up some odds & sods...

                                      Diana:
                                      > This all really makes me laugh, JoAnn, because it's happened to me so
                                      > many times! I have a conversation with a Waldorfer insisting
                                      > technology for kids is bad and evil and wrong and the poor darlings
                                      > mustn't go near it. And I'm saying poo, don't be silly, just
                                      > supervise them and set some limits etc etc and don't be so chicken
                                      > little sky-is-falling about the silly old computer.
                                      >
                                      > And then it turns out their kid uses the damn thing more than mine
                                      > does. It really cracks me up.

                                      Sorry, Diana, but you have no idea how much or how little my child uses the
                                      computer -- so how can you compare her usage to your son's usage? It's
                                      probably less than you think, given that she plays (and practices) three
                                      musical instruments, plays soccer, does her homework, reads books, has taken on
                                      primary responsibility for the herb garden...

                                      > >Er... No one I know at the waldorf school says that your three year
                                      > >old should never see you use a computer.
                                      >
                                      > Cool. Ours did. The pink cloth thing, you know.

                                      I only know about the pink cloth thing because our teachers once made fun of it
                                      in a skit they did at an end-of-the-year parent/volunteer appreciation dinner.
                                      It was not an issue.

                                      > Well, there you go, you techno-zealot, at least we don't have more
                                      > computers in the house than people! (unless you count old ones, I
                                      > guess).

                                      Well, I was counting old ones -- at least one of which we use for backup
                                      storage.

                                      [snip]

                                      > >Never said children *can't* use it. What I *said* was that children
                                      > >don't *need* to use it,
                                      >
                                      > And I'll just go back to the point I was trying to make, which is
                                      > that they don't "need" to use the telephone either, by the limited
                                      > argument that says 1) they can always learn to use it later, and 2)
                                      > it's somehow a negative energy in their lives or something. That's
                                      > just silly.
                                      > It's a tool . . .

                                      Yep. It's a tool, not rocket science. And using it or not using ain't a
                                      matter of life or death, or even educational excellence or failure. <G>

                                      > >and in particular that I saw no real educational benefit to
                                      > >introducing school children to computer usage *in school* before
                                      > >middle school at the earliest.
                                      >
                                      > Again, there's no argument to support what you are saying that we
                                      > couldn't equally apply to any other piece of technology or tool in
                                      > their lives, used in the modern world, right down to pens and pencils
                                      > and paper clips for that matter. All easy to learn to use at a later
                                      > date, if you really think they're going to be harmed by them at a
                                      > young age! Total nonsense.

                                      Actually, Jane Healy's books (*Endangered Minds* and *Failure to Connect*)
                                      provide quite a lot of scientific evidence that this is not so.

                                      > That's no longer strictly true, I don't think. It is getting more and
                                      > more complicated to sort out sources, I think. If anything, kids need
                                      > more and more instruction in how to understand what is what online,
                                      > and probably most teachers aren't equipped to give it, 'cus they
                                      > don't understand it either. I don't think the answer to this,
                                      > however, is to wait as long as possible to even start.

                                      Er... how about teaching first what makes a source a "good" source? There are
                                      standards for what makes a source acceptable, and these standards apply to
                                      print sources as well as online sources. Once you understand what makes a
                                      source acceptable to use in an academic context, then you can show how it
                                      applies to print, to television (those talking head shows), to the internet.
                                      Again, I don't think it is necessary to start this in elementary school --
                                      although we might want to start with the universities!! It's not that hard.

                                      > A computer lab? No, at least one computer in every classroom, though.

                                      Why? So kids can work on "animated worksheets"? My kids were at waldorf
                                      because my eldest found worksheets incredibly *B*O*R*I*N*G* and refused to do
                                      them. Her opinion of them didn't change, although by the time she got to high
                                      school, she (grudgingly) consented to do them.

                                      ----------

                                      Finally, an observation on the 'literacy' controversy.

                                      Folks without young children or who reside outside of the United States might
                                      not be aware of the extent to which reading instruction here has been pushed
                                      down to the kindergarten, or even the *pre-school* level. My friend at work --
                                      who is not an anthroposophist and who only knows about waldorf because we work
                                      together -- recently attended a "kindergarten roundup" because her child, who
                                      will be 5 in October, is eligible to attend kindergarten at her local public
                                      school in the fall. My friend was given a two inch stack of papers, including
                                      a couple of workbooks, and told that her daughter would be expected to be able
                                      to print the entire alphabet -- upper and lower case -- in some specified
                                      printing style (I forget what she called it) by the time she began
                                      kindergarten. They more or less implied my friend and her husband were bad
                                      parents for keeping the kid at home for the first four years of her life since,
                                      "if she'd been in a good preschool program, she would know how to do this."

                                      From my friend's point of view, the notion that her *4-year-old* needs to spend
                                      her summer learning not only the alphabet, but also how to print out both upper
                                      and lower case letters in the approved style, so she can enter *kindergarten*
                                      is nuts and she is thinking the kid will spend another year at home whilst they
                                      decide on what to do next.

                                      Musing on what the kids are missing....
                                      JoAnn
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