In April 2018, we, Waldorf parents from across Europe gathered together in Bologna, Italy, to discuss one of the greatest issues of our time: digital media and technology.
There are so many questions that arise from this topic, especially when they concern our precious children: Do we have to stay away from technology? Is it something we should protect our children from? Should we collect smartphones in schools? Or should we just let our children immerse themselves into this “brave new world”, since that is where they should be living?
During this conference we learnt that these questions are just distractions. The real question is: how to prepare our children from early on for these new challenges in order to help them become conscious, creative and competent digital citizens.
We also realised that Waldorf education does have adequate answers to these questions.
It is common to think that Waldorf education is technophobic, and some schools do work hard to earn that reputation. However, Waldorf is aimed at providing children with what they really need at a given stage of their development, and also at protecting them from impacts that are not fruitful or appropriate at that stage.
It was interesting to note that, although there certainly are issues to worry about, we have tools to cope with most of them.
After all, digital technology is here to stay and we have to live with it. But we need to be aware of and conscious about how we use and consume digital media, in order to stay human and humane in this amazing and crazy world.
We cannot share with you the unique on-the-spot experience: the welcoming atmosphere, the loads of laughter, the heart-to-heart connections and the inspiring conversations with like-minded parents from different parts of Europe, and of course the wonderful Italian food and wine. All we can share are the videos from the lectures. We still hope these will be enough for you to feel that you don’t want to miss our next conference!
Christopher Clouder, on technology, change and child
Christopher Clouder FRSA is a freelance speaker, writer and consultant on questions of childhood, innovation in education, cultural evolution and creativity. He was the founding director of the Botin Platform for Innovation in Education and led research into Social Emotional Education and Creativity and the Arts. He is co-founder of the Alliance for Childhood, a member of the Learning for Well-being Community and the International Forum for Steiner Education. From 1989 to 2012 he was the founding CEO of the European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education.
Margareta van Raemdonck, on research and good practices around the theme of the conference
Margareta works for the Flemish Steiner Waldorf Federation. She has 20 years of teaching experience. Since 2004 she has been responsible for the work necessary for safeguarding the Steiner curriculum from class 7 onwards within the Flemish educational realm. As a result of the constitutional freedom of education in Belgium, the Steiner school movement in Flanders was able to secure a Flemish Steiner school qualification with university access on the basis of this already more than 20 years ongoing curriculum development. She also works on pedagogical innovations and lobby work in Belgium and in Europe. She is a board member of the European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education. She has started projects on how to collect research into and good practices in Waldorf education in order to share these amongst the federations and schools.
Julia Kernbach, on growing up healthy in the digital age
Julia Kernbach studied fine arts, photography and art history at the Kunstakademie Duesseldorf. She uses digital and analogue media equally in her art work.
Julia is an ECHT DABEI coach (http://www.echt-dabei.de/), working in prevention programmes in kindergartens and primary schools to help children, educators and parents to achieve critical and risk-free media use. She also works with children in the Museum Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Duesseldorf, Germany with analogue and digital media, such as stop-motion films. Her focus is on active media use whether digital or analogue. Julia is part of the working group “media education” in the Waldorf school of her children in Duesseldorf. She also develops agreements on media education at Waldorf schools with parents and teachers for their classes.
Julia also shared with us a little booklet which provides parents with tips and tricks for dealing with digital media in everyday family life. Check it out at https://www.medienratgeber-fuer-eltern.de/pdf/medienratgeber-englisch.pdf