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Waldorf News

texting-tween

Is Google Making Students Stupid? Outsourcing menial tasks to machines can seem liberating, but it may be robbing a whole generation of certain basic mental abilities

All of this has unmistakable implications for the use of technology in classrooms: When do technologies free students to think about more interesting and complex questions, and when do they erode the very cognitive capacities they are meant to enhance? The effect of ubiquitous spell check and AutoCorrect software is a revealing example. Psychologists studying the formation of memories have found that the act of generating a word in your mind strengthens your capacity to remember it. When a computer automatically corrects a spelling mistake or offers a drop-down menu of options, we’re no longer forced to generate the correct spelling in our minds. This might not seem very important. If writers don’t clutter their minds with often-bizarre English spelling conventions, this might give them more energy to consider interesting questions of style and structure. But the process of word generation is not just supplementing spelling skills; it’s also eroding them. When students find themselves without automated spelling assistance, they don’t face the prospect of freezing to death, as the Inuits did when their GPS malfunctioned, but they’re more likely to make errors. More »

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"Siri, What Is an Ear Infection?"

I’ve been a pediatrician for 20 years, and I thought I’d seen it all. But not long ago when a father brought his 2-year-old into my clinic, something happened that has me deeply concerned. Upon entering my examining room, I found father and son sitting together, eyes downcast, each silently scrolling and tapping on smartphones. During my initial exam, the father directed most of my questions to his frowning toddler, who indicated that his ears hurt, and I quickly discovered that both eardrums were red and inflamed. “Guess what?” I said to my small patient. “Your ears hurt because you have an ear infection. But we can give you medicine and make you better.” I smiled at the little boy and his father. Immediately, the child picked up his phone and pushed a button. “Siri,” he asked carefully. “What is an ear infection?” More »

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Human Beings as the Measure of Things: On the architecture of Waldorf schools

If it is true that school buildings should not be an obstacle to education as an artistic process, then the dictum of some Waldorf schools not to build “anthroposophically” as far as possible is counterproductive in three ways. First, it ignores educational necessity; second, it denies the historical stream of the architectural development of Waldorf schools; and third, it propagates the preconception that the architecture of Waldorf schools essentially consists of “no right angles”. For decades, almost any design that has been built in the architecture of our time has been publicly highly praised, particularly as today it is possible from a technical construction perspective and in terms of materials to build almost any desired structure. The concepts applied make use of the vocabulary of organic architecture with increasing frequency. More »

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Throwing Traditions Overboard: An Experiment in State and Waldorf Education in Hamburg

A unique school project has started in the socially deprived area of Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg: Waldorf teachers and teachers from the Fährstraße all-day state school intend to work together from the 2014/15 school year onwards. A corresponding cooperation agreement with the Intercultural Waldorf Initiative was signed by the Hamburg Senate on 24 October 2013. We spoke with project manager Christiane Leiste. More »

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A Modern American Fairy Tale

Three tenth grade pupils are walking about the school playground. One of them has her eyes covered and the other two are moving around her clapping their hands. The senses have just been dealt with in main lesson and the three of them are experimenting with using their hearing for orientation. What is special about this scene is the fact that they dare to move about the playground alone with their covered eyes. A few years ago that would have been impossible in this school. Violence, bullying and drug dealing were part of everyday life in the school playground. Large musclemen with loud voices, security guards, called after pupils: “Git inta class!” and ensured that they hurried as quickly as possible from one class to the next so that they did not have time for illegal activities. The school described here was one of the worst schools in California. It was, as principal Allegra Allessandri said, a failed school. In the meantime the George Washington Carver School of Arts and Science, a “Waldorf-inspired High School”, wins prizes for the quality of its learning and the school’s performance as a whole. An exhibition in the foyer presents pupil projects of impressive quality on the theme of poverty in the district of Sacramento in which the school lies. More »