ECSWE wants media education to be age-appropriate and tailored to children’s developmental needs.
Steiner Waldorf education has a very specific approach to reaching this goal. During early years, emphasis is placed on first-hand experience, physical movement, artistic work, and story telling. The next stage is to develop a solid foundation in basic literacy, numeracy, and social skills in a screen-free learning environment, before digital technology is finally introduced in classrooms.
At policy level, this approach is best supported by investment in unbiased and interdisciplinary research into the effects of digital technology on teaching and learning. Furthermore, we call for schools to have the autonomy to define their own media curricula.
To provide an age- and development-oriented media education, Steiner Waldorf schools need the right to define their own media curricula. Most of our schools consciously delay the introduction of digital technology in classrooms until the age of 12, when young people are developmentally ready and have acquired a solid foundation in basic skills. This is impossible if schools are required to follow detailed regulations enforcing the use of digital technology in classrooms from an early age. National and regional authorities should set only the general framework and learning objectives of education, and give autonomy to schools to flexibly implement them at school level.
Empowering teachers to decide on their teaching methods is a core element of Steiner Waldorf education. Teachers decide for themselves what kind of teaching methods and media best support the learning process and developmental needs of their pupils at a given moment.
To foster media literacy, many Waldorf teachers first introduce digital technology as a creative tool. For example, this can involve editing a newspaper, producing a radio feature, or making a movie. This helps pupils to work with and critically reflect on the use of digital content from other sources later on. To enable this approach, it is essential that governments allow flexibility regarding how digital media is used in schools.
It should be possible for parents to make meaningful educational choices for their children. With regards to media education, this is only possible if different pedagogical approaches coexist, and are both accessible and affordable.
Screen-free options should be available to families who wish to delay the use of digital technology. For this reason, ECSWE supported the ELIANT petition calling on EU institutions, and national and regional governments, to respect the right to screen-free day care institutions, kindergartens and primary schools.
The full article Position Paper on Digitalisation of Education by ECSWE can be found on the website of the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commisioner.