April 20th, 2010

Yesterday, I attended a lecture at the Pittsburgh Waldorf School on the topic of The Media and Your Child. It was a fascinating — and horrifying — presentation. I’ll get into the meat of the discussion in another post. At the moment, I want to wax admiring about the World of Waldorf.

Waldorf is an educational philosophy that emphasizes imagination, interdisciplinary studies, and the development of both creative and critical thinking skills. There’s a lot of emphasis on the importance of childhood and the necessity of letting children play and dream and imagine and explore the natural world when they are young.

There are Waldorf Schools all over the world and the Waldorf-style has also become a popular inspiration for natural children’s toys. Waldorf dolls, for example, are beautifully handcrafted and kept deliberately simple (no bodily functions here!) to allow children to pour their imagination into their plaything.

I’m pretty impressed by the philosophy. It skirts the edge of being a bit too woodland-fairy-esqe, but on the whole seems pretty great — especially for very young children.

The Waldorf School in Pittsburgh is housed inside a gorgeous stately mansion that was once a private residence. Wood floors, soaring ceiling, a beautiful sunny solarium. What’s not to love? I want to go to school there!! The lecture was in the solarium and that is also the room that houses their program for 2 to 4 year olds.

Be still my heart. Entering that room was like walking into a showroom of my favorite kid catalog — Nova Natural. Wool dolls in wooden cradles. Wooden dollhouses and figurines. Baskets with yarn and other fibers for craft projects. Piles of silk with which to create capes or wings or enchanted castles. I’ll take one of each, please.

I did manage to finally tear myself away from the toys and pay attention to the lecture. It was pretty amazing. Stay tuned…

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