Mar 23, 2017
Steiner Education in a changing world.
Today we are facing the real tragedy of our children, rapidly loosing valuable aspects of their childhood, as we knew it only a few short years ago.
Children are growing into the digital age of technology, being subject to a constant bombardment of images and messages that they don’t understand, being handed electronic devices to entertain and bemuse themselves, being given access, through the internet, to a world that they don’t understand.
This is a multi- faceted issue for not only are the children being exposed to an ever increasing level of electronic media, telling them who they should be like or look like but they are at the same time being denied the experiences of nature and free play that can nurture and restore their inner being, their childhood.
I wonder how many parents watch the children’s programs or play the mindless video games that they expose their children to. They may then appreciate the hidden agendas that exist within these so called children’s shows, the constant high levels of violence, isolation and exclusion that exist, sometimes under the umbrella of humour and the affect these messages have on the children.
Many of these children’s programs which depict the adult as being stupid while the child is clever and more capable like Home Alone being a good example, raise the question of role reversal and the empowerment of the young child. Does this empowerment effect children’s behaviours and expectations?
There are many good questions here to ponder.
There is so much information available today regarding the raised levels of adrenalin and dopamine in the child, through watching high tempo programs and playing reward based video games and how the down time then affects a child’s behaviour. We certainly live in a world where peace and quiet, sitting in the garden alone or just reading a favourite story over again is rapidly giving way to technology and it’s fascinating lure.
Quite amazing really, when you think that the smart phone is one of the most powerful tools ever invented and yet we give it to young people without any real protection or even guidance. A bit like giving the keys of your car to a five year old.
If you feel your child needs a mobile, what is wrong with a dumb phone. It still makes calls and even texts, but it does protect against all the other distractions and invasions of the internet.
Levels of children’s anxiety, isolation, violence, and general discord with their environments is on an ever increasing upwards spiral and yet increasingly we allow our children to take their phones to bed, and remain connected to their groups, well into the early hours of the morning, we allow them access to the internet without adequate supervision and we even pass our toddler the smartphones to keep them occupied and quiet. We are absentmindedly addicting our children to the screen, and the bodily reactions that it creates.
Many people will see this simply as a sign of the times and resign themselves to it even though they know it is not necessarily the best thing for them. Many will even see it as amazing, how young children so quickly adapt, however what we, at school are seeing, are higher levels of disconnection, anxiety, aggression, disrespect and lack of inner calm. Even simply that children’s minds are full of the stuff that they see on television or the computer and that their conversations with each other are overloaded with the superficial and empty content of their last viewing.
As parents we need to understand that children feel safe when their boundaries are clear and that we as adults are the authority in their lives. For that they will respect us while knowing that we are there for them.
In school we have to deal with the issues that are brought before us as a result of a changing lifestyle and rapidly disintegrating social structure, while maintaining our ethos, values and unique Steiner pedagogy. We see that the creative and imaginative processes written into the curriculum are nourishment for the children and will give them the inner tools needed to move into their futures. The internet, computers, and even the television will only contribute to the loss of imagination and childhood creative abilities, raising anxiety and disconnection.
Please consider this when setting you child’s screen time guidelines.
I have attached a link to a very good video on Waldorf Education.