Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Importance of Myths and Fairy Tales for Children

From Crisis:
Beyond the fact that they do not take away from a child’s faith, myths and fairy tales are an essential part of early education because they provide a basis for conservative and traditional thinking and ultimately point to Christianity. Part of living conservatism is giving children a conservative education, and that must begin with what tradition has passed down to us, for the traditions that have been preserved by society over time are good and necessary for a flourishing human life. Myths and fairy tales encompass our common human desires and experiences, and human desire is ultimately fulfilled in Christianity. Grounding children in these tales, grounds them in Christianity.

The earliest exposure children have to Western thought comes through what we read to them. And while authors like Sandra Boynton and Dr. Seuss are fun, they lack the depth of tradition. When it comes to literary education, nursery rhymes are the place where I start. Children’s minds are formed by the words and concepts embodied in the rhymes, and they learn how to cleverly use language. The content of the nursery rhymes ranges from extremely practical, to moral life lessons, to imaginative characters. As children hear nursery rhymes, they start to memorize them, applying them to themselves and to the world around them. The nursery rhymes they hear are inherently conservative, teach them that there is right and wrong, and demonstrate to them that the world has a certain order.

Following from nursery rhymes are fairy tales. There is something about the strange twists and turns of the world of fairies, princesses, and giants that draws in a child’s imagination. Children are drawn up into the story and then they act them out. They know that the fairy tales are not actually part of real life, but they love to think about them and imagine with them. The stories also often contain great moral value, teaching children a lesson about how to be virtuous, good manners, or simply what makes a person good or bad. Fairy tales do this better then a modern tale, since they tend to not water down consequences, but exaggerate them to make the point more clear. Children love this. Fairy tales have been passed down through the generations, first orally, and later committed to writing. These tales are rooted in history and tradition as they tie us to those who came before. When children learn the stories, they are learning to conserve and know about the past. They care about what happened “once upon a time.” The fairy tales draw them into the community that is all of humanity. (Read more.)

No comments: