Liberation From Waldorf Toy NeurosisLindaCL;
"Neurotic judgementalism" isn't "encouraged" nor "endorsed" in Waldorf education, that's why I'm disagreeing with you."
Many of us here have seen neurotic judgementalism encouraged in Waldorf, but perhaps you haven’t. I love your line, “It’s all good”
I think it is good to avoid “Waldorf toy neurosis” and this can mean trying not to let a Waldorf teacher guilt-trip you because you have the “wrong” toys in your house. This in my opinion is a bad place to go and it’s all to easy to end up there when you try to make the journey away from “bad toys.” This is just my take on toys so please take this as my personal bugaboo, others see it differently. The teacher hints not too subtly that most of the toys you have given your child so far are bad for them, and you start scrambling to replace them with “good” toys and then other Waldorf parents, especially new ones, jump on this bandwagon too and pretty soon you have a vigilante toy squad. The Waldorf teacher told me to keep my child on one floor of the house if the other children in the house, this was some cousin’s at xmas, were playing video games - all the way up to and including advise to break off all ties with these supposedly bad people/relatives – I’m sorry but this is neurotic judgementalism and it is definitely encouraged in Waldorf schools.
"There's a world of difference between "encouraging" healthy foods, and "encouraging neurotic judgementalism" towards less-healthy foods.
In reality I don’t know about a “world of difference.” Sure eating healthy foods is good but this very easily turns judgmental – that is the pitfall. That is what we are talking about here. I think we are really talking about attitudes and not about “healthy foods” or “healthy toys.” I really believe in the end your attitude is more important than exactly what specific foods you’re eating (or trying to get your child to eat). Not that I am a paragon of virtue where keeping a positive attitude is concerned, but I'm pretty sure it's about the attitude and the loving environment a parent provides, and not about whether the toys are made of wood or plastic.
“And there are healthy toys just as there are less healthy toys, true?”
I’m glad we’re having this discussion because it’s really helping me to clear up my thinking on this. This is a good example of where I differ from Waldorf. No, I don’t think there’s any rule that can tell you which toys are healthy and which are not. Even narrowing it down to “more” or “less” healthy is unhelpful. It is a question of individual child’s needs, balance in providing a good variety of activities and trying not to allow overindulgence in one type of activity. And even beyond that, the nature of your interactions with your child - your family environment. Relax about the toys. Very few toys are “bad” or even “less healthy” in my opinion. Iv’e thoughtt a lot about this since leaving. Our family lightened up considerably on toys after a period of being really purist like some people here are trying for. And it seems like those new to Waldorf are often the most zealous. After we left the school I thought I was relaxing just because there were not so many rules any more, but I still felt guilty about it because I still thought “only natural” was good. My non-Waldorf friends were less (yep) – judgmental – and at the new school the teacher didn’t think it her place to comment on what toys my child might have at home – that is the family’s decision - but I still felt guilty. I am here to tell you you can recover from “Waldorf toy neurosis”
I now see it quite differently, I think that many of the toys Waldorf teachers told me were damaging really do have a place and that there had been something not far from mind control going on. I felt very relieved not to be the imagination police with the kids anymore, always insisting that children must be “creative” every waking moment. What adult could live like that? Kids need to relax, kids need to just enjoy themselves sometimes, you know, “down time”? Kids love the things that beep or flash or make silly faces and it’s simply pleasurable. Part of play is creative and part of play is a period of recovery from the intense learning and creativity kids are doing naturally. The teachers were wrong to make us feel guilty for “fun” toys. PLEASURE IS GOOD. Waldorf is really very ascetic (sp?) and moralizing in a strange way. It seemed like no one was ever supposed to laugh really loud, anyone else notice that? Being realaxed and happy around your kid, so that your kid can be relaxed and happy, is *much* more important for his wellbeing than what toys you pick.
I really don’t believe TV, or “realistic “ toys, are necessarily bad in moderation. Children are *always* using their imaginations – it’s not nearly so easy to squelch as they will have you think. (Unless your kid is just parked in front of hte TV for hours, of course.) In wAldorf they have certain limited ways they think imagination is supposed to look. “Imagination” is wearing dress up clothes and saying “I’m Cinderella.” But if child is using their imagination you cannot necessarily “see” this – sometimes they are acting something out and sometimes something is going on inside their minds that will come out later. They process many things for later. Too much TV play is bad, but it’s really about balance. Balance and providing a range of stimulating and interesting things they can make use of in various ways. Sedentary versus active and creative versus simply entertaining etc. You can’t control what kids do with information and images they see around them and you can’t, not for long, control what they are exposed to nearly as tightly as you can in the very early years. It isn’t a healthy pattern to get into. The control of their minds *by their parents* is more damaging imho than flickering images they’re momentarily entranced by on Barney. I mean, I would limit it to the child-appropriate – there are too many kids in R rated movies, for instance, and prime time TV for adults is almost never appropriate for children IMO, but I’m talking about children’s television.
So long story short I don’t think it is healthy to try to control their minds so tightly the way Waldorf does.
Pleasure is good! Waldorf needs to lighten up on this.