The European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education


Published on April 3rd, 2018 | by ECSWE


Sign our petition for an age-appropriate media education

ECSWE supports the recent ELIANT petition calling for the right to run screen-free day care units, kindergartens and primary schools. Teachers, and parents must be able to decide for themselves up to which age educational institutions are screen-free. Teachers must be able to choose for themselves what kind of media they work and teach with, and if and when they use digital media as a teaching aid. For this, we need the right to have screen-free day-care centres and elementary schools.

The digital revolution is being driven forward at great speed by economic and political interests. In schools this is occurring using the catch phrase ‘digital competence building’. The technology used involves smart phones, laptops and wifi. This means that teaching, schools and learning is increasingly being defined in terms of the digital media. Signatures to this petition support a more human focused education across Europe, one that is orientated to the specific stages of physical, soul and spiritual development. Supporters accept that developing all round digital competencies is an important part of schooling. As well as granting a basic understanding of digital technology, it also encourages a creative, responsible and critical approach to its use. But – everything at the right time!

We demand that: Teachers, educators and parents decide for themselves how long (to what age) an educational institution can remain screen-free. Those responsible for teaching must be able to determine the medium they use, whether they enlist digital media and to what purpose it is put. To achieve this, the right to have screen-free day care units, kindergartens and primary schools is essential. Educational policy needs to abandon its fixation on wall-to-wall digitalisation and permit the use of creative alternatives by those whose primary concern is to give children real-world educational learning experiences.

Human focused education: Age-appropriate interaction between head, heart and hand

Children have the right to a period of development in which they learn to master their surroundings by using all their senses, through movement and by engaging in creative play (sensory motor integration). It is only through this sensory and motor interaction with the environment that they can find a healthy orientation to space and time and develop physically and spiritually in ways commensurate to their age.

When digital media are introduced too early they have a retarding effect on development and reduce real-world engagement down to a mere swiping of the screen. Due to minimal body movements, an immobilisation of the eyes and an experience that is overly head-focused and passive, nerves are stimulated in an unhealthy way. This in turn has a negative effect on brain development. Children’s development is compromised by a whole series of negative side effects including: Sensory overload, proneness to addiction, alienation from nature as well an impaired self control and thinking capacity. Developmental psychology and neurobiology have produced convincing research results to support this. (1)

The purpose of school and teaching is to help pupils become independent and self-determining human beings. The digital revolution requires people who are able to think and act for themselves. Children learn this in the social context of the classroom, through dialogue and direct interaction. Learning is the result of the harmonious interplay of head, heart and hand. The brain is an organ of relationship and for its development it requires physical activity and a direct experience of the surroundings.(2)
Pioneers of IT such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are aware of this and have acted accordingly – they do not give their own children smart phones and restrict their access to IT! (3)

Sign below or download the forms in English or German to collect signatures offline.

1) Cf. Teuchert-Noodt, Gertraud (2015): “For Risks and Opportunities, Ask the Brain”, in: Lembke, Gerald / Leipner, Ingo:”The Lie of Digital Education”, 3rd edition, Redline, Munich.
2) Cf. Thomas Fuchs (2017): „Präsentation“, Tagung ‘A healthy digital ecosystem’“, in: Brüssel

3) Bilton, Nick (2014): „Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent“, in: was-a-low-techparent.html vom 06.02.2018

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  • ECSWE Newsletter 51, May 2018

    In this volume:
    • - The ELIANT Petition for age-appropriate media education;
    • - A Parliament resolution calling for educational choice;
    • - News from the ET2020 Working Group Schools;
    • - Reports of the last two Council meetings in Dornach and Cracow;
    • - Domestic reports: from Italy and the Netherlands;
    • - An update on the WOW-Day 2017;
  • Factsheet 2017/18

  • Partnerships

  • Recommended Research

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