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Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: Computers in School [WAS: Memory and Record]

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