Why Are Silicon Valley Executives Sending Their Kids to a Tech-Free School?

Parents employed by Google and Apple are sending their kids to computer-free Waldorf schools. Are they on the right track?


You'd think executives at Silicon Valley's top tech firms would be keen to enroll their children in schools chock-full of the latest education technology: one-to-one laptops, iPad programs, digital textbooks, and teachers engaging students using Twitter. But according to The New York Times, some Silicon Valley parents—including the chief technology officer of eBay and execs from Google and Apple—are doing a 180 and sending their kids to the area's decidedly low-tech Waldorf school.

Waldorf's computer-free campuses—teachers use old-school chalkboards and students learn cursive writing with pen and paper—are a sharp contrast from most schools, where access to technology is seen as key to getting kids college- and career-ready. Advocates of Waldorf education say they're not opposed to technology, but there's a time and a place for everything. There are no iPads in kindergarten classrooms at Waldorf schools—instead you'll find plenty of play-based learning and storytelling.

"The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or to do arithmetic, that's ridiculous," Alan Eagle, an executive communications employee at Google, told the Times. His fifth-grade daughter attends a Waldorf school and "doesn't know how to use Google," and his middle school-age son is just learning to use the search engine. Instead, his daughter's class is honing their knitting skills in the hopes of eventually producing socks.

While that may sound out of place at a time when moms brag about their 3-year-olds' abilities to operate iPads, there's an appeal to Waldorf schools' philosophy that students should "experience" literature, math, and science—along with visual and performing arts—in a developmentally appropriate way. The tech-free teaching methods are designed to foster a lifelong love of learning and teach students how to concentrate deeply and master human interaction, critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Indeed, through knitting socks, Waldorf students pick up math and patterning skills, and they come out of it with something beyond a standardized test score to show for their effort.




But is it hypocritical for people who make their money from technology that's sold to the masses—and is increasingly peddled to schools as the solution to education's problems—to shun it for their own children? After all, they have the luxury of being able to teach their kids technology skills: If mom and dad have Google or Apple pedigrees, chances are the kids are going to pick up tech skills eventually. And, given that 94 percent of Waldorf high school graduates go on to college, being ready for higher education obviously isn't a problem.

I have a few friends whose kids attend Waldorf schools, and my sons don't seem deficient in comparison. Sure, my friend's Waldorf-educated kids know how to draw beautifully, make candles, and knit socks, but my fifth-grader made a commercial for his campus business using iMovie and designed a video game on his school-issued laptop. Maybe the real question should be: Why isn't there a school where kids can do both?

Photo via Wikimedia Commons


Articles

We've all felt lonely at some point in our lives. It's a human experience as universal as happiness, sadness or even hunger. But there's been a growing trend of studies and other evidence suggesting that Americans, and people in general, are feeling more lonely than ever.

It's easy to blame technology and the way our increasingly online lives have further isolated us from "real" human interactions. The Internet once held seemingly limitless promise for bringing us together but seems to be doing just the opposite.

Except that's apparently not true at all. A major study from Cigna on loneliness found that feelings of isolation and loneliness are on the rise amongst Americans but the numbers are nearly identical amongst those who use social media and those who don't. Perhaps more importantly, the study found five common traits amongst those who don't feel lonely.

Keep Reading Show less
Health

He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
WITI Milwaukee

Joey Grundl, a pizza delivery driver for a Domino's Pizza in Waldo, Wisconsin, is being hailed as a hero for noticing a kidnapped woman's subtle cry for help.

The delivery man was sent to a woman's house to deliver a pie when her ex-boyfriend, Dean Hoffman, opened the door. Grundl looked over his shoulder and saw a middle-aged woman with a black eye standing behind Hoffman. She appeared to be mouthing the words: "Call the police."

"I gave him his pizza and then I noticed behind him was his girlfriend," Grundl told WITI Milwaukee. "She pointed to a black eye that was quite visible. She mouthed the words, 'Call the police.'"

Keep Reading Show less
Good News


Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape www.youtube.com

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Facebook: kktv11news

A post on the Murdered by Words subreddit is going viral for the perfect way a poster shut down a knee-jerk "double-standard!" claim.

It began when a Redditor posted a 2015 Buzzfeed article story about a single dad who took cosmetology lessons to learn how to do his daughter's hair.

Most people would see the story as something positive. A dad goes out of his way to learn a skill that makes his daughter look fabulous.

Keep Reading Show less
Lifestyle