The shadow self

By Mathias Maurer, July 2017

Attacks by hackers on institutions such as the German government, the banks, the German Association of Waldorf Schools, the publisher Verlag Freies Geistesleben and the editorial staff of Erziehungskunst have begun to increase severely. These institutions are having to take increasingly costly steps to protect themselves, and still they end up lagging behind because there is no such a thing as complete protection.

Private data is protected to an even lesser extent as most providers want to use it to make money. It is virtually not protected at all. People refer to data as a future form of currency.

Didacta, the "largest trade fair for education and training in Europe", recently took place in Stuttgart and again the most important topic was the digitalisation of learning. There I met the education journalist Reinhard Kahl near the Waldorf stand and he said: "Isn't this a zombie event?"

Others also oppose the increasing digitalisation of education. For example, the well-known brain researcher Manfred Spitzer from Ulm made his case at the conference of the Waldorf Kindergarten Association in Hanover last autumn on the grounds that the propagated digitisation of education is in fact the direct opposite of education because it ignores the neurobiological requirements for learning, even overrides them in some cases.

The German Association of Waldorf Schools also opposes it as it has not been proven in any empirical study that the use of digital technology is superior to conventional analogue teaching forms. It is, rather, the case that teaching materials and methods should be adjusted to fit the age and development of the children. With the motto: digital and media competence is achieved through early abstinence (Edwin Hübner), it not only runs completely counter to the mainstream and resists the siren call of German education minister Johanna Wanka’s billions of investment but also sees itself accused of being opposed to technology and progress.

But there is good reason for that: being able to handle digital media critically requires prerequisites and abilities which precisely do not come from the digitalised world. This Waldorf view is confirmed also by studies of the education researcher Paula Bleckmann who has focused on an analysis of the commercial interests and their (apparently educational) arguments. Because they have an interest in our data on the Net continuing to grow exponentially.

Education 4.0. ensures that through toys and learning programmes, online tests and online examinations, our learning steps are documented in detail and connect up with our continuous private and professional development. The price of the privatisation and commercialisation of education is the loss of our privacy.

“It is hard to escape the impression,” writes the Vienna professor of philosophy and ethics Konrad Paul Liessmann, “that for some people it cannot come soon enough that young people not only lose any form of thinking, feeling and activity which is not determined by the algorithms of the Internet corporations, but that they have not learnt these things in the first place and thus become dependent on their devices in every respect.”

We advocate that this state of affairs should not come about and refer here once more to the online petition against the digitalisation of early childhood: www.waldorfkindergarten.de

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