Green Meadow Waldorf School is dedicated to nurturing each child’s capacity for creative imagination, independent thinking, and positive action. The school’s efforts to foster students’ healthy emotional development and meaningful relationships with their environment and other people are undermined by encounters with media that separate children from authentic experience and promote a distorted, developmentally inappropriate, and consumerist view of the world.
Students learn best to use electronic media as a resource and tool when these media are introduced after children have developed a rich experiential foundation. Media thus become a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the richness of direct experience.
Purpose and Social Context
The Green Meadow electronic media policy is designed to support the objectives of Waldorf Education, and to be workable in the homes and lives of school families. Parents have consistently found that reducing the influence of media on their family life has encouraged family members to develop a keener interest in one another, enlivened and deepened their communication, and fostered a deeper connection to the world around them.
The school expects that each parent understand and support the media policy for the good of their own children and their children’s peers. All members of the Green Meadow community depend on the parents of Green Meadow students to help create in their homes an environment that supports and reinforces Waldorf Education. Each family’s respect for the media policy has a far-reaching positive effect on the students’ educational and social experience in school. A failure to make best efforts to respect the media policy has a correspondingly negative impact on our own children and their classmates. The impact of media exposure is passed on to other children, reverberating through the community and showing up in other children’s play, attitudes, language, and inner life. It is therefore important for the health of the entire Green Meadow community for each family to comply with the media policy. To these ends, the school reserves the right to require students to reduce or alter their use of media if that exposure is undermining their education or the education of others.
In support of the education Green Meadow parents have chosen for their children, the media policy should be followed throughout the year, even when school is not in session.
For purposes of this policy, “Electronic Media” includes television, movies, computers, and all other video and audio devices, including cell phones, video games, and music/MP3 players. The scope of this definition changes as media technology and its applications evolve. While Green Meadow’s media policy specifically governs interaction with certain media, care and judgment also should be applied to permitting exposure to media that is not expressly covered by the media policy, including print media (newspapers, magazines, and catalogs) and radio (news and recorded music).
We encourage parents to keep an open dialogue with their children, other class parents, teachers, and advisors regarding media. Specifically, parents should speak to teachers—either privately or with other parents in class or other group meetings—about their questions and challenges related to media, so that together they can work out viable approaches.
The Green Meadow Media Resource Group, comprised of parent and faculty volunteers, meets regularly to discuss media use and exposure, and its impact on students, families, and school classes. Interested parents are welcome to join. Contact Jeana Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Media Resource Group
A Policy to Grow with Your Children
early childhood through grade 5
Children enrolled in the Early Childhood programs at Green Meadow should be given the gift of a media-free childhood. Teachers are available and willing to assist with transitions to a media-free environment. Consistent with Waldorf Education’s emphasis on learning through direct experience, children in the lower grades (1-5) should be allowed to develop new ideas and attitudes based on real personal interactions, without the distortion of mediation through technology.
Children in the lower grades should not be exposed to electronic media in their daily lives. They should not watch television, movies, or videos, play video games, or use computers. Additionally, exposure to radio and recorded music should be limited and age appropriate.
During Grades 6, 7, and 8, it is appropriate for students to have a gradual and guided introduction to the applications and use of electronic media. During these transition years, use and exposure to media should be very moderate, under clear parental guidance and participation, and not work to the detriment of the social and educational climate of the class. Media exposure can be a socially divisive influence in these years and often works directly against what is brought in the classroom.
Children in Grades 6, 7, and 8 should not be exposed to electronic media during the school week and should have, at most, limited exposure on weekends and vacations.
Any exposure in Grades 6-8 should be in keeping with the following:
Television and Movies: It is important that parents carefully select and monitor any visual and audio media to which their children are exposed. Movies rated R and many PG-13 movies are clearly inappropriate at this age; parents are urged to preview movies to make their own informed judgments. As a courtesy to other families and to nurture a positive social climate, parents should not allow children who are guests in their homes to be exposed to visual and audio media that has not been cleared with the visitor’s parents. Students in Grades 6-8 should not watch television or movies during the school week and should never have a television or computer in their bedrooms.
Video Games: Children of this age should not have access to video games, including online gaming sites. Video games can be addictive and can adversely impact students’ work, as well as the social life of the class.
Music Players: Any use of music players should be limited and through docking stations rather than headphones. The use of music players with headphones both isolates the listener and has real potential to damage children’s hearing.
Internet Access: Children of this age should not have unrestricted or regular access to the Internet. If they do access the Internet or use the computer, such access and use should be carefully monitored, for limited time periods, and never on school nights. Please protect computers in the home with passwords to control access. Do not allow computer use when a parent is not at home. Please locate computers in open areas of the home and never in children’s bedrooms.
Social Networks: No grade school student should have access to any social networking site. These sites (examples of which are Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) limit their ability to interact in socially healthy ways.
Cell Phones: Students should use cell phones as telephones only, not for Internet access, as cameras, or as gaming or audio devices. We have seen text messaging create damaging social situations in our community. Accordingly, the text messaging feature on these students’ phones should be disabled or restricted to emergency situations (and never to be used between schoolmates).
Email, Instant Messaging (IM), and Chat Rooms: Students should not make use of these technologies as forms of communication between classmates, as experience shows that such use creates serious social problems in the culture of the classroom.
The media policy in the High School recognizes that it is appropriate for 15- to 19-year-olds to learn to critically approach and effectively use media. The school recognizes the importance of media literacy, including educating students to understand the technological principles underlying (and the social transformations resulting from) electronic media, and seeks to meet this need through a curriculum that includes Internet research skills, computer programming, the science behind new technologies, and the social consequences of the ongoing media revolution.
However, because inappropriate or excessive use of electronic media undermines teenagers’ living relationships to other people, the world around them, and themselves, parents should continue to monitor and limit their teenagers’ exposure to electronic media and maintain an open dialogue with their teenage children about the role of media in their lives.
Internet and video game use can become addictive, consuming time that could otherwise be spent in more productive pursuits, and can give rise to increasing emotional and intellectual detachment. Social networking sites (current examples of which are Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) pose a significant and well-documented threat, not only to students’ safety, but also to their ability to interact in socially healthy ways. Email, instant messaging, chat rooms, and text messaging can create serious social problems in the culture of any school, workplace, or community.
Parents should monitor and limit student exposure to media, locating computers and video games in open areas of the home. It is important to maintain a space of media-free quiet for the challenging and creative schoolwork of the High School, particularly during the school week.
The use of cell phones for any purpose by students is not permitted on campus between 8:00am and dismissal time, during school activities, or on school-sponsored trips without a teacher’s permission. During school hours, all cell phones must be turned off. On campus outside of school hours, phones may be used only as telephones and never for Internet access, as cameras, or as gaming or audio devices. Cell phones may not be used by students inside of school buildings.
Personal audio or video devices (such as music/MP3 players, cameras) are not permitted on Green Meadow’s campus, during school activities, or on any school trips without a teacher’s permission. When determined by a teacher to be appropriate, media may be used at Green Meadow in some instances for supervised educational purposes.