Waldorf School Of The Peninsula In California Succeeds With No- And Low-Tech Education

In Heart Of Silicon Valley, School Succeeds With No-Tech Education

The Waldorf School of the Peninsula sits in the midst of Silicon Valley, home to the nation's leading tech companies and startups. It educates the children of tech gurus and executives of the technological industry. But the school itself teaches without digital assistance.

As schools across the country try to fit the digital era into lessons by experimenting with iPads as textbooks and reverse classroom models, the Waldorf School, a private institution, sticks to its hundred-year-old ways: blackboards and chalk. No computers in elementary grades, and sparse use of technology in high school grades.

In an NBC report that follows an October story in The New York Times, teachers tell NBC's Rehema Ellis that they don't shun technology, just advocate healthy education. Waldorf has a nearly 100 percent rate of graduation.

"I'm concerned that if we say we need technology to engage students, we're missing the fact that what engages students is good teachers and good teaching," Waldorf math teacher Lisa Babinet told Ellis.

And education experts say benefits of using technology in classrooms are difficult to measure.

"Just introducing technology has not been shown to have magical effects on student learning," Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor at the Stanford University School of Education, tells NBC.

Waldorf students also don't seem to mind, nor do they miss their gadgets while in school -- technology is already embedded into their culture and every day lives outside of school. One student's cursive writing has improved.

"Being able to think creatively and imagination are much more important than just being able to know how to Google something," 12th grade student Jack Wurtz says in the report.

In a recent report by U.S. News & World Report, a list of the top 10 "Most Connected Classrooms" in America doesn't list a single high school in California. Crooms Academy of Information Technology in Florida tops the rankings.

Waldorf's private hands-on approach to education is also in contrast to findings from an October report that California is failing to provide high-quality science education to public elementary school students. Just 10 percent of elementary classrooms provide regular hands-on science experiments.

For public schools, $200 million in federal funding is available to seven states, which have applied for the split grant with plans to focus on and improve science, technology engineering and math education.

President Barack Obama has made a call for improving STEM education over the next decade through several partnerships and initiatives, and the U.S. Navy announced in June a plan to invest more than $100 million in science and technology education by 2015. Its aging workforce seeks to bolster a robust generation to replace the 50 percent of its many science and engineering-based workers who will be eligible for retirement by 2020.

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