Age-appropriate media education
Digital media in education?
Yes, just age-appropriate!
ECSWE supports schools’ freedom to develop their own age-appropriate and development-oriented media curricula.
Following our recommendations, the European Parliament included amendments in favour of age- and development- appropriate media education in its 2018 report, “Education in the digital era”.
Following our advocacy, the European Parliament also included similar amendments in its 2018 report, “Modernisation of Education in the EU”, following our advocacy.
In line with of our work, our partner organisation ELIANT has launched a petition calling for the right to screen-free day care, kindergartens, and primary schools.
We want media education to be age-appropriate and tailored to children’s developmental needs.
Steiner Waldorf education has a very specific approach to reaching this goal. During early years, emphasis is placed on first-hand experience, physical movement, artistic work, and story telling. The next stage is to develop a solid foundation in basic literacy, numeracy, and social skills in a screen-free learning environment, before digital technology is finally introduced in classrooms.
At policy level, this approach is best supported by investment in unbiased and interdisciplinary research into the effects of digital technology on teaching and learning. Furthermore, we call for schools to have the autonomy to define their own media curricula.
1. Allow schools to freely choose age-appropriate media curricula for their pupils
To provide an age- and development-oriented media education, Steiner Waldorf schools need the right to define their own media curricula. Most of our schools consciously delay the introduction of digital technology in classrooms until the age of 12, when young people are developmentally ready and have acquired a solid foundation in basic skills. This is impossible if schools are required to follow detailed regulations enforcing the use of digital technology in classrooms from an early age. National and regional authorities should set only the general framework and learning objectives of education, and give autonomy to schools to flexibly implement them at school level.
2. Allow teachers to freely choose teaching methods
Empowering teachers to decide on their teaching methods is a core element of Steiner Waldorf education. Teachers decide for themselves what kind of teaching methods and media best support the learning process and developmental needs of their pupils at a given moment.
To foster media literacy, many Waldorf teachers first introduce digital technology as a creative tool. For example, this can involve editing a newspaper, producing a radio feature, or making a movie. This helps pupils to work with and critically reflect on the use of digital content from other sources later on. To enable this approach, it is essential that governments allow flexibility regarding how digital media is used in schools.
3. Allow parents to freely choose age-appropriate media education for their children
It should be possible for parents to make meaningful educational choices for their children. With regards to media education, this is only possible if different pedagogical approaches coexist, and are both accessible and affordable.
Screen-free options should be available to families who wish to delay the use of digital technology. For this reason, ECSWE supports the ELIANT petition calling on EU institutions, and national and regional governments, to respect the right to screen-free day care institutions, kindergartens and primary schools.