Low-Tech and High-Tech Education in Silicon Valley and Beyond

This fall, the New York Times ran a story about a prestigiously “low-tech” school in Los Altos, California, that was impossibly populated by the offspring of the Silicon Valley heavy hitters. According the article’s author, Matt Richtel, Apple, Google, Yahoo, eBay, and Hewlett-Packard are all represented among the student body’s parents. The institution being discussed is the Waldorf School of the Peninsula.

The cornerstone of the school’s approach to education is “physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks.” In the elementary-grade classrooms, computers and screens are banned, and engagement with the technological staples at home is discouraged. Advocates of such teaching methods argue that computers can have adverse effects on “creative thinking, movement, human interaction, and attention spans.”

If you haven’t been in a public elementary school lately, you may be surprised to learn about the tools that are being used to engage students, and also to boost their test scores. Instead of chalkboards, a la Waldorf, more mainstream schools have been experimenting with futuristic-looking touch screens. There at least a feature that would be more easily expected at a University instead of a third-grade classroom. Policymakers who push for more technology in the classroom cite the gulf in technological access among their students that must be bridged in the school setting to even the playing field. Seems like both philosophies could complement one another.

Article Submitted by Nick from Articles 2 Know.