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Imagination and Media  

Developing the Child's Imagination

In the Kindergarten the oral tradition of storytelling is recognized as an excellent way to prepare the child for literacy readiness. A wise story told by heart and spoken with beautiful language to the child over and over again engages their minds and hearts and deeply opens them to the information. It also builds their concentration skills, and actually becomes a form of inner work like meditation for the young child.This is because storytelling, rather then stories read from a book with pictures or watched in a movie, call upon the child's faculty of imagination. The child co-creates the story with the author and something from within the child is called forth. The wise tales of old employ the use of archetypes to teach children about themselves, about humanness. All the archetypal characters found in a good story represent different aspects of the soul. By listening to stories about these characters that embody qualities within each of us we get a chance to learn about our inner selves. For so many reasons storytelling is far superior to the constant reliance of the child upon the fully provided depiction of a story that is presented in books and movies. A child's own imagination becomes his future ability to think creatively and innovatively, a quality of thought desperately needed during these critical times. The Waldorf Kindergarten is not primarily concerned with imparting facts and "information" to its students but rather with laying the foundation for clear, free thinking, balanced and loving feeling, and for a healthy will - for the head, the heart, and the hands.

Serious Discouragement of Media Exposure

The Waldorf Movement takes a very committed position when it comes to its student's exposure to media such as television viewing, movie viewing, computer games, video games, internet surfing and listening to electronic devices such as stereos. Rather than ruling them out we would rather have an informative dialogue with all parents of our students regarding the negative and harmful effects of electronic media on the development of the young child. We are confident that a presenting of the factual research will bring us together in agreement that media is to be seriously kept in check if not entirely removed from the child's experience.

The most basic premise of this absolute rejection of electronic media as an educational or beneficial recreational activity for the young child is because the young child primarily develops through movement and sensory experience. The most essential development required in early childhood is the completion of the physical development of both their sense and internal organs. The young child is constantly absorbing energy from the world around them through physical and sensory exploration in order to sustain and complete their organ development. It is vital that the sensory input they receive be real - real colors, real textures, real smells, real sounds - for the real development of their eyes, nerve system, nose and ears, for example. An electronic frequency does not contain the true living presence of the subject it is imaging, therefore when interacting with electronic images, both visual and audio, the physical body is not getting the type of sensory input it needs for healthy development. Weakly developed organs will often serve the human being adequately throughout his youth and young adulthood, but after the age of thirty-five their deficiencies begin to take their toll on us; manifesting in both physical and spiritual weaknesses. You will find much more information about this in the "Waldorf Education" section of the web site.

Also, electronic frequencies vibrate, especially those of the television and computer screen, on a level that limits us to the activity of our reptilian brain, which is our lower brain, our more animal brain. The human being has the capacity to use a much higher level of brain activity, a level at which imagination, inspiration, and intuition can occur. The way in which we use our brain before the age of 12 greatly determines our capacity for brain activity in later life as there is a major "pruning" of the brain "tree" around the age of twelve.

There are some Waldorf Schools that require families to sign a contract in which they agree to remove electronic media from the life of the child while they are attending the school. This is not only for the well-being of the student, but also for the well-being of the class as a whole. A student who is frequently exposed to media plays very differently than a child who is not. It is a very important goal of the Waldorf teacher to create a harmonious relationship between their students' school and home environments - consistency is definitely in the best interest of the child. Much of what we foster in the student at school can be undone if they go home to a starkly oppositional home environment. We will not be requiring any signing of contracts such as this at The Mountain School - but, we will be very interested to learn about our student's home environments and will be discussing family's opinions about media exposure in our application and interview process. We believe it is in both the student's and school's best interest to admit applicants whose families are in agreement with the educational values we hold to be as important as this one.

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