With the push in the state sector towards more testing, earlier formal education and increasing use of technology in the education of young children, it has been interesting to see a number of articles in the news which stand against this trend. In fact, it could be argued that the more the state system pushes in this direction, the more parents are questioning these methods.
Not only that, but formal research from some of world’s best universities and research bodies is proving exactly how the Steiner Waldorf pedagogical approach is of benefit in child development.
We have posted many of these articles on our Facebook page, and bring them together here for anyone who may have missed them.
More evidence from the United States that the push to teach all children to read in kindergarten is not beneficial.
The original report (link to pdf).
The ‘Common Core’ is similar to the EYFS in the U.K., which says children UNDER 5 YEARS OLD should; “read and understand simple sentences. They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately. They also read some common irregular words. They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read. Writing: children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.”
Steiner Waldorf schools teach reading and writing in an age-appropriate manner which engages the imagination and curiosity of the children, as this parent’s view of how it works shows. And here is another lovely example of learning to read in Steiner education.
Here is an excellent article describing research from Berkeley and MIT which shows how direct teaching of young children can limit their natural curiosity and will to discover things for themselves.
The researchers conclude that directed teaching can improve the efficiency of learning what the teacher wishes the child to learn, but at the cost of restricting a child’s potential for imaginative discovery.
In the article, authored by one of the scientists involved in the research, it is suggested that, should you wish your child to fully utilize their natural curiosity and fully develop their creative abilities, it may be wise to avoid too much direct teaching at an early age.
As a Steiner school, we would, of course, point out that child-led activities with the aim of developing these natural instincts for discovery are exactly what a Steiner early years education is all about!
Abstracts for the original research articles are:
Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent
“So, your kids must love the iPad?” I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. “They haven’t used it,” he told me. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
Leaders in the technology industries are not only limiting the exposure of their own children to technology, but are actively choosing the low-tech approach of Steiner education. The first article links to research showing the negative effects of technology on social skills and academic ability.
We have previously posted some of the recent research on why going screen-free is a benefit to children and their families.
Minecraft? Why not try woodcraft?! The original joystick is a stick…
Our post on The Importance of Play includes a significant scientific study in the leading Paediatric journal showing the incredible benefit of child-led play.
These principles, aiming to develop a child’s natural curiosity and will to learn through discovery, are the foundation of our Early Years pedagogy.
Parents are Finding Out What Works Best
Besides the sometimes dry scientific studies, it is often personal experience, or the experience of our peers, which guides us in understanding what works best for our children. More and more parents seem to be realising that the regime of constant testing from pre-school onwards is not right for their children.
As parents, we all want to know that the education we choose for our child will prepare them for life in whatever path they choose.
Here is a video showing some of the more famous Waldorf alumni and the paths they have chosen.