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How should computer science, software engineering or ICT be integrated into the Waldorf curriculum?

Steiner-Waldorf education derives from the anthroposophical philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, and places lots of emphasis on Music, Art and Craft. Students study a "Main lesson" in the morning, followed by specialist lessons (though the exact pattern varies from school to school). The issue of "age-appropriate learning" is very important.

The "Yellow Book" of the Waldorf curriculum mentions computing, but it is short and seems not to have been updated since the 1980s. Anthroposophical theorists have a distrustful relationship with TVs, Computers and other devices with screens, which makes teaching computing difficult.

Have any Waldorf teachers taught computing in their schools? How did you do it?

I'd particularly like to know at what age should children start learning, and how should they progress in computing in the Waldorf context. and did you teach computing in the main lesson or later in the day?

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  • $\begingroup$ I won't post an answer, because I genuinely know nothing and am only guessing, but I assume they would be basically against it. CS seems rather counter to the Waldorf basic philosophy. $\endgroup$ – Ben I. Jan 19 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ Use teletypes ! $\endgroup$ – Michel Billaud Jan 20 at 0:00
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Waldorf / Steiner and Technology Use

Waldorf schools aren't against the use of technology in education, they take the stance that introducing technology too early is harmful to natural educational development in students.

This quote about Waldorf schools in the UK (where they're also referred to as "Steiner" schools, since Rudolf Steiner pioneered the movement) sums up the rationale:

The hugely sensible approach taken by Rudolf Steiner schools is that computers only become useful in the teen years once children have mastered fundamental, time-honoured ways of discovering information and learning, such as practical experiments and books. 1

If you're afraid that this is backwards-thinking in the information age, it is perhaps telling that some of the biggest proponents of Waldorf schools are parents 2 and tech executives 3 who live and work in Silicon Valley.

Digital Literacy Curricula in Waldorf / Steiner Schools

Digital Literacy is a common term used to describe the use of technology in education, though this isn't a Waldorf construct. (It's championed by everyone from Harvard 4 to the Public Library Association 5).

However, in Waldorf Schools, digital literacy is typically applied in a more "holistic" way (another tenant of Waldorf education).

The approach taken by the San Francisco Waldorf School 6 is a good representation of these principles (though not all schools follow this same breakdown):

Early Education

Young children learn through imitation, imagination, movement, play. Teachers tell beautiful stories with complex vocabulary and sentence structure. Children are unencumbered by the passive consumption of fixed media images, which scientific research confirms are difficult to process and can hinder learning.

Grade School

Media-free classrooms are places of human connection and experiential, creative lessons. Middle schoolers are introduced to digital literacy, exploring questions of online behavior, information resources, and social citizenship. Families agree upon class community guidelines for the introduction of technology.

High School

Students use technological tools for learning and creation, and teachers cultivate critical thinking through discussion-based seminars and inquiry-based exploration. There is a media center, rotating laptop carts, and cloud-based resources. Phones are turned off to create a space for learning and social connection.

So, if you want to follow true Waldorf pedagogy, technology should be introduced in the secondary/high-school years, and done so in a way that is "holistic", though some variations do exist.

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