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Prestigious Waldorf Private School Keeps Computers Away from Kids

Quim Llenas, Getty Images

The 160 Waldorf private schools in the United States boast an impressive student body: the children of tech luminaries from firms like eBay, Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.

But what makes Waldorf a seemingly odd choice for such parents is that until kids are in the eighth grade, the school is completely unwired with not a computer screen to be found.

Waldorf believes in physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks, and feels computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans.

Alan Eagle, 50, a Dartmouth graduate who works in executive communications at Google and whose daughter attends a Waldorf school, said, “I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school. The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous.”

A Waldorf third-grade math teacher, Cathy Waheed, recently taught fractions by having the children cut up food into quarters, halves and sixteenths. “For three weeks, we ate our way through fractions,” she said. “When I made enough fractional pieces of cake to feed everyone, do you think I had their attention?”

Ninety-four percent of Waldorf grads attend college, but Ann Flynn, director of education technology for the National School Boards Association, feels keeping computers away from the kids is doing them a disservice. “If schools have access to the tools and can afford them, but are not using the tools, they are cheating our children,” she added.

Student Finn Heilig, 10, disagrees and says he likes learning with pen and paper instead of on a computer. “Besides,” he says, “if you learn to write on paper, you can still write if water spills on the computer or the power goes out.”

[The New York Times]

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