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Students Learn Unplugged At Los Altos School

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A class at Waldorf School of the Peninsula in Los Altos. (CBS)

A class at Waldorf School of the Peninsula in Los Altos. (CBS)

LOS ALTOS (CBS 5) — In the land of Apple and Google, walking across one Bay Area school’s campus is like stepping back in time.

At the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, first grade students shuck corn and build a garden, while fourth graders explore the philosophy behind Celtic knot drawing. In a high school humanities class students read their own poetry, while math students work with a compass and protractor.

There’s not a computer to be found on the campus. Here, teachers keep things “old school.”

“I write down all my notes, which helps me by re-writing it,” said Carie Frentz, a junior at the school.

The school also keeps class sizes small which means students have to pay attention.

“I mean if you’re not, they’ll totally be able to tell. I can’t slide by on not doing my reading for the night,” said Frentz.

Cell phones must be tucked away, while friends at other schools text from the classroom.

“I’m not in school, I’ll text them and they’ll text me right back. I’ll say, ‘Aren’t you at class?’ they’ll say ‘Yeah, so?’” said Zack Wurtz, a senior at Waldorf.

The lack of technology doesn’t seem to bother some students.

“The school isn’t really anti-technology. It’s more that the teachers really think about when the technology will actually benefit the class,” said Jack Pelose, a freshman at Waldorf.

Parents of Waldorf students appreciate the lack of distractions.

“There is a place for technology, absolutely. It just doesn’t belong in the classroom with small children, or at the high school level. It cheats them of a better education,” said Kempton Izuno, a Waldorf parent.

While schools across the Bay Area are spending a fortune going all-digital, the mission at Waldorf is personal.

“A computer can be a tool, it can be a toy, on a good day it can be a tutor, but it’s not a teacher,” said Deborah Newlen, a humanities teacher at Waldorf.

If you’re thinking Waldorf is exclusively for wealthy children, that’s not the case. Students are only admitted after an extensive interview process. If that child’s family is unable to afford the tuition, the school will make arrangements to get them enrolled.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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