Embracing Technology After Waldorf

*Blog Written By Amelia Vinsel – Class of 2014

As someone who attended a Waldorf school since preschool, my education was pretty much completely free of computers, the internet, and the media industry. In the lower grades, we worked in a way that was completely independent of the use of most modern technology of any kind. In high school, while we did use computer programs to type papers, we were always encouraged to use sources other than those found on the internet for our research, and we had absolutely no computer science classes at all.

Now, as a college student, I’m majoring in Communications with a concentration in Creative Media Production, a field that relies heavily on the use of computers and the various advancements in media technology. In my courses, I work with sound, video, and even web-based interactive media, both creating new material and examining media texts that have already been made. When I tell my fellow students and friends about my pre-college education, they’re often very surprised that I would choose to go into a field so focused on media and technology. One might think that my Waldorf education would put me at a disadvantage in college-level production classes, especially since most of the technology and programs I’m now using were completely new to me. However, I actually find myself just as prepared (if not even more so) to work with creative media as many of my fellow students.

I feel as though my independence from computers and the media industry in my childhood now helps me be able to view the media from a very objective angle. For those who grow up completely and constantly engulfed by the internet and all the media targeted towards children and young people, the media landscape can sometimes become a sort of second reality, and it’s hard to separate oneself from it. What one sees on television and in advertisements, hears in popular music, and/or views in video games might sometimes seem like a direct reflection of the truth, when it is in fact just as much of a human construction as a painting or a book is.

Since I grew up somewhat separate from this massive and constantly expanding phenomenon that is the media landscape around us, I was able to easily develop a sort of “media literacy”- that is, I’m able to examine and understand the meanings and implications of different media texts in a way that I feel I might not have been able to had my pre-college education not been what it was. I can then take these observations and apply them to the texts I myself am making, and can give my work so much more intention and awareness. In short, I feel that I have an edge that I think many others may not have, or may have more trouble developing in themselves.

Although I’m studying in a field that I had no concrete experience in before college, I wouldn’t change a thing about my childhood education and I feel endlessly thankful for the skills I’ve learned through Waldorf education and the way they now serve me. Yes, there were times when learning how to use certain computer programs was somewhat difficult. But when it comes right down to it, the basic usage of a computer program is really much less than half the battle when it comes to the production of any sort of creative media, from music and sound production to web design. Once you know how to use the program, you have only the barest of the tools necessary to be able to produce something creative and impactful.

In my opinion, the most important skill someone in the media industry can possess is simply the ability to think creatively, to be able to come up with a way to use the combination of material (images, video footage, sound recordings, etc.) and computer programming to create and produce something new and original. Throughout lower and high school, I was working creatively in so many different ways and with so many different media, from music to painting to handwork to theater. To take the artistic skill I had learned through this and translate it to media production felt natural. Mastering the technical skill takes some work, but I have all the building blocks available to me.