Modern science is validating what Waldorf teachers have known for a long time: the consumption of media by infants, children and young people inhibits their healthy development.
In today’s world, phones, movies, games, music, podcasts, texts, social media, calculator, calendar, word processor, research library and other technological and educational tools are contained in the same apparatus and are often operating at the same time. It is easy and convenient for adults and children to be consumers of media, and we acknowledge there are positive uses of electronic devices and social media for adults. As Waldorf parents and teachers we must embrace the world of technology, and many of us choose to use electronic media ourselves. However, early media consumption by children hinders the educational foundation of inner picture building and transformation, and the strengthening of the will that are essential to Waldorf education. It is therefore critical that parents make careful and conscious decisions about when and how media is introduced to their children.
As Waldorf educators, Summerfield teachers are actively guiding the students to build inner imaginations based on true stories and real world sense experiences. These are the foundation of our children’s education; they are moral, beautiful and true. Students take these images into their sleep and come back the next day ready to build the concepts of their education from these pictures, which they have transformed and made their own. Media and virtual images take away from or damage these pictures. The media images consumed by children are not necessarily good, beautiful or true. These images are not chosen by a loving parent or teacher for the educational, moral and spiritual development of the child or young person consuming them.
As a school, we place an emphasis on direct human interaction and authentic experience. Studies show that a direct experience, as opposed to a virtual one, has a measurable positive impact on brain development throughout childhood and adolescence. Further issues associated with media that are adversely impacting child development are well documented, including Continuous Partial Attention, early consumerism, and the premature sexualization of children.
In this light, the faculty of Summerfield Waldorf School and Farm have formulated a media guideline that reflects the culture of our school community.
Media Guideline for Parents
The Summerfield community works hard to foster authentic human experiences each day. We feel strongly that a screen and electronic media-free childhood is a significant factor in creating a nourishing environment at school and at home. We maintain and strengthen this by engaging in conversation within our class communities, to gain perspective on how media exposure relates to each age and stage of development. From this understanding, we forge our agreements each year to renew our commitment to the healthiest possible childhood.
Families joining our community should understand that we hold an ideal and expect that all of our students are screen and electronic media-free until at least 6th grade, and further, that it is beneficial to keep them screen and electronic media-free well beyond this age. In grade 6 and up, teachers and class communities will discuss, craft and update agreements to shape the measured introduction of media when developmentally appropriate.