Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Importance of Fairy Tales

There was a teacher who worked very hard for her students. She toiled away, but felt like she was making little difference. One day, she thought, "I wish I could enhance my students' lives a little more. How else can I teach them important skills like independence and hard work and hope for the future?"  Suddenly, a magical prince named Bettelheim suddenly appeared. "Take these words of wisdom," he said, "and your students will prosper."  He handed the teacher a book and as she studied the magical tome, her world lit up and she knew that the answer had been in front of her all along:

Fairy tales.

There's no doubt that fairy tales still have a hold on us as a modern society. "Into the Woods" saw new popularity as a movie; "Once Upon a Time" and "Grimm" are successful TV shows, and Disney is already planning a live-action Beauty and the Beast as a follow-up to Cinderella.

What's interesting to ask is, "Why?" Why have these fairy tales endured for hundreds or thousands of years?

Recently, I read a book called "The Uses of Enchantment" by Bruno Bettelheim. He was a child psychologist in the 1970s, during a time when the world in general was thinking about education. Piaget and Erikson were both doing important research and changing the landscape of early childhood education to be what we know it today.

In the book, Bettelheim theorizes that fairy tales have persisted because they contain deep psychological truths that we can all relate to. Not only that, but they can become guides for us in solving our own problems.

I'm about to start a 3-part series about some of these theories; mainly, how we can use fairy tales and other literature to guide our children into finding their own path through the woods and becoming independent and thoughtful adults.

So please, take my hand, and follow me into a land far far away and a long time ago.

Comment with your favorite fairy tale below!

Continue to parts one, two, and three.


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