This issue of popular culture and media exposure is the elephant in the room. It’s no secret that Waldorf advocates the elimination of most if not all media in children’s lives. But what is not always voiced is how difficult that can be and just how you do that!
Each family comes to Waldorf with a different experience around media that stemmed from their childhood on up. Overall the issue is how to bring the consciousness of how media influences the different aspects of development in a way that does not offend or feel condescending. This is an issue in all Waldorf environments.
In every Waldorf community there is a range of how much and when children are exposed to certain aspects of our culture. One can also see a range within the Waldorf Schools themselves. Some school advocate for zero media use in the lower grades, others are more lenient.
I realized that the topic is so interrelated to parenting in general in terms of just setting boundaries for your child and where you are in terms of your own feelings about media and popular culture. Your children know when you are firmly committed and when you can be swayed in one direction or another. So in dealing with other families and situations the more you are committed to your position the better.
I just want to point out that this issue is not just a weird Waldorf issue. Parents all across the nation and even the globe are dealing with how to put on the brakes in some form or another. There is a whole range of :how much and when” in terms of media use and popular culture, but the options are being created so quickly that parents are having to deal with advertising companies tracking their child through apps on a phone as well as everything else.
In the homeschool environment you have the advantage of creating your own environment exactly how you want it. You can control how and when your children, for the most part are exposed to different outside influences. You may have some negotiating and conferencing to do with your significant other, but for the most part you are creating a culture and have the ability to maintain a certain amount of control as to what they hear, see and feel.
The question comes up in many social situations of how much and when to let your child participate with others around the media. Media in many ways is the center of social engagement. Of course you are trying your best to change that for your family, but it can be hard when faced with you child who just wants to go play with a friend and they are all going to watch a movie or play a video game.
Get clear on your values and your guidelines around media and pop-culture.
I always consider this an important step when I might be going into a situation where there might be some difference of opinion. Making sure you are clear on the guidelines in your home for your own children and children that are invited over. Then you can spend less energy and time on worrying and feeling badly if you compromised more than you had intended. Those pleading eyes are sometimes hard to refuse.
The question you want to ask yourself is how much, if at all, and when?
Adornment: Clothing, jewelry and make up
What they hear and see: Advertising, content, type of device
- Electronic Devices: Computers, digital devices, phones, recorded music
- Movies: 2D or 3D
- Language: What are your expectations around how people speak to each other
Food: Diet, traditions, protocol around preparation and cleanup
Stay tuned for parts 2 & 3 of this series: Living Waldorf in a Modern World