May 17, 2012

As the parent of a teenage son who attended the Washington Waldorf School (where my wife is also employed) for grades 1-8 and is now finishing his junior year at the Flint Hill School in Oakton, I have a unique perspective on Cecilia Kang’s May 13 front-page article “Two schools of thought: High-tech vs. no-tech.” The fact is, both schools do a very good job of educating students but, as Ms. Kang pointed out, they do it in very different ways. It is up to parents to decide which approach is right for their children and, perhaps more crucial, at what point in their development.

When our bright young son struggled with the demands of a public school that assigned homework and worksheets to preschoolers and first-graders, we found that the Waldorf pedagogy of age- appropriate and art-influenced learning better appealed to the natural curiosity and imagination of a young child. By eighth grade, when it become apparent that our son had a strong interest in and talent for math, science and computer science, academically rigorous and competitive Flint Hill seemed to be a good choice.

I am certain that my son will be prepared for the challenges of high-level college work once he leaves Flint Hill. But I also am sure that the Waldorf experience made him a more rounded individual — certainly a much better writer and critical thinker and more culturally literate, all of which informs the lines of code he writes for his AP computer science course at Flint Hill.

David Leonard, Falls Church

We do our children a disservice by focusing on their ability to manipulate today’s technologies. We should focus instead on helping them master the outer world and their inner world through their emotions, senses and imagination.

By the time children in either the Washington Waldorf School or the Flint Hill School graduate from high school, they will be computer-literate and “plugged in.” But the period from birth to approximately sixth grade is the window — the one window — that parents have to let their children be children; create their own art and music; and sense the world directly with their hands and bodies.

Over the course of my career in government policy, every young person’s résumé that I’ve seen lists a facility with computers. But it is the rare — and highly valuable — young person who also can demonstrate the imagination, creativity and emotional intelligence that comes with a Waldorf education, which is what my children got.

Gregory C. Simon, Bethesda

The Post’s article on a high-tech school vs. a no-tech school did not discuss how technology can level the playing field for the children who are served by public education and who may not have the luxury of engaged parents.

Public schools must provide the technology resources that level the playing field for all students, thus allowing them to excel in core content and develop media literacy. The skills supported through appropriate interactions with technology will define the literate person of the 21st century; those without such opportunities will be left behind.

How technology is used to support quality learning experiences in public education could become the civil rights case for this generation.

Ann Lee Flynn, Alexandria

The writer is director of education technology for the National School Boards Association.

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