In the education-technology space, we collectively spend a lot of time talking about the integration of technological tools inside the classroom, and even apart from the classroom altogether.
But some have chosen an entirely different direction: completely offline education.
A Maryland news outlet (via Education Week) ran a fascinating article last week on this subject, highlighting one of the more than 120 Waldorf schools across the country that are eschewing tech tools in the classroom.
At the Washington Waldorf School, the article notes, “you’ll find woodwork, cross-stitch and sculpture classes — but you won’t find web design, graphics or film classes. As schools race to the top, innovation here looks basic, artsy and unplugged.”
The school’s faculty chair advocates for the approach by saying, “”They’re comfortable in their own skin — in real interactions with people as opposed to what you see with teenagers today interacting with the device versus each other, which is sad.”
That educator is not alone. The article also points to two reputable polls showing that “teachers overwhelmingly believe digital technology is curtailing attention spans and critical thinking skills.”
This apparently widespread belief, and the attendant school movement to remove tech from the classrooms altogether, raise some challenging questions for those of us who work directly in the tech-ed space. Is there a point to be made that introducing technology tools to kids at too young an age can be a distraction? Or is that too sweeping a statement that doesn’t take into account the virtues of specific tech tools?