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

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 $$$, computers in classrooms is a huge business for the hardware and software manufacturers and vendors, and you can
                    Message 9 of 20 , Jun 2, 2005
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                      JoAnn:
                      > I'm not against computers. I'm just unpersuaded that computers in the
                      > classroom, and in particular, in the *elementary* school classroom add
                      more
                      > value than they cost -- both in $$$ 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 10 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 11 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 12 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 13 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 14 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 15 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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