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The Jewish Woman Who Taught Us What We Know About Kids

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Dorothy Walter Baruch; Picture courtesy of JWA

If you thought our current obsession with all things parenting (like, ahem, parenting websites) was something new to the modern world, think again. Dorothy Walter Baruch, who was born in 1899, made the emotional, physical, and intellectual well-being of children her life’s work.

It is hard to imagine that, given how many of us agonize over the minutae of our childrens’ lives, Baruch seemed to have it figured out rather early on. She was the founding director of the Gramercy Cooperative Nursery School from 1924–1927, did experimental work on language at the Normandie Nursery School in 1929, and was a professor and director of the laboratory school of education at Whittier College from 1930–1940.

READ: Why I No Longer Buy Into Parenting Philosophies

She was an educator, author, psychologist, and community leader who believed that the expression of a child’s feelings and fantasies and their respectful acknowledgment by parents and teachers were crucial not only for the individual and the family, but also for life in a democratic society.

Baruch encouraged adults to help children find ways to re-channel feelings through such activities as dramatic play, the writing of stories, poems, and journals, and the use of art materials, all widely accepted techniques today.

For more on Dorothy Walter Baruch, please read here.

This post is the final in a four-part series with the Jewish Women’s Archive, commemorating women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) for Jewish American Heritage Month. Every Monday in May you can look forward to a new post about a Jewish woman who helped to lay the groundwork for women in science today.

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