Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 191
Publication Date: 1916
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A Study Of Fairy Tales is an interesting historical document sharing many theories of childhood education and the usage of fairy tales in education from the early 20th century. Some of the concepts have changed over the years, and some are still in use today. In addition to this, the author provides substantial, and mostly still accurate, information about the history of fairy tales, including an extensive timeline, in Chapter 4.
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I. TWO PUBLIC TRIBUTES
ONLY a few years ago, in the gardens of the Tuileries, in Paris, a statue was erected in memory of Charles Perrault, to be placed there among the sculptures of the never-to-be-forgotten fairy tales he had created,--Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Puss-in-Boots, Hop-o'-my-Thumb, Bluebeard, and the rest,--so that the children who roamed the gardens, and in their play gathered about the statues of their beloved fairy friends, might have with them also a reminder of the giver of all this joy, their friend Perrault. Two hundred years before, Perrault truly had been their friend, not only in making for them fairy tales, but in successfully pleading in their behalf when he said, "I am persuaded that the gardens of the King were made so great and spacious that all the children may walk in them."
Only in December, 1913, in Berlin, was completed the Märchen Brunnen, or "Fairy-Tale Fountain," at the entrance to Friedrichshain Park, in which the idea of the architect, Stadt-Baurat Ludwig Hoffmann, wholly in harmony with the social spirit of the times, was to erect an artistic monument to give joy to multitudes of children. This fairy entrance to the park is a decorative lay-out, a central ground surrounded by a high, thick lodge of beeches. Toward this central ground--which has been transformed into a joyous fairy world--many hedge walks lead; while in the side-walks, to warn naughty children, are concealed fantastic figures. There is the huge Menschenfresser, who grasps a tender infant in each Titan hand and bears on his head a huge basket of children too young to have known much wrong. A humorous touch, giving distinct charm to the whole creation, pervades all. From lions' heads and vases, distributed at regular intervals in the semicircular arcade in the background, water gushes forth; while in the central basin, nine small water animals--seven frogs and two larger animals--appear spouting great jets of water. Clustered about the central fountain are the nine fairy characters of Professor Ignatius Taschner, among whom are Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Grethel each riding a duck, Puss-in-Boots, Cinderella, and Luckyy Hans; and looking down upon them from the surrounding balustrade are the animal figures by Joseph Rauch. In these simple natural classic groups, fancy with what pleasure the children may look to find the friendly beasts and the favorite tales they love!
Such is the tribute to fairy tales rendered by two great nations who have recognized fairy tales as the joyous right of children. Any education which claims to relate itself to present child life can hardly afford to omit what is acknowledged as part of the child's everyday life; nor can it afford to omit to hand on to the child those fairy tales which are a portion of his literary heritage.
II. THE VALUE OF FAIRY TALES IN EDUCATION
In considering fairy tales for the little child, the first question which presents itself is, "Why are fairy stories suited to the little child, and what is their value for him?"
Fairy tales bring joy into child life. The mission of joy has not been fully preached, but we know that joy works toward physical health, mental brightness, and moral virtue. In the education of the future, happiness together with freedom will be recognized as the largest beneficent powers that will permit the individual of four, from his pristine, inexperienced self-activity, to become that final, matured, self-expressed, self-sufficient, social development--the educated man. Joy is the mission of art and fairy tales are art products. As such Pater would say, "For Art comes to you, proposing to give nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass, and simply for those moments' sake. Not the fruit of experience, but experience, is the end." Such quality came from the art of the fairy tale into the walk of a little girl, for whom even the much-tabooed topic of the weather took on a new, fresh charm. In answer to a remark concerning the day she replied, "Yes, it's not too hot, and not too cold, but just right." All art, being a product of the creative imagination, has the power to stimulate the creative faculties. "For Art, like Genius," says Professor Woodberry, "is common to all men, it is the stamp of the soul in them." All are creatures of imitation and combination; and the little child, in handling an art product, puts his thought through the artist's mould and gains a touch of the artist's joy.
Fairy tales satisfy the play spirit of childhood. Folk-tales are the product of a people in a primitive stage when all the world is a wonder-sphere. Most of our popular tales date from days when the primitive Aryan took his evening meal of yava and fermented mead, and the dusky Sudra roamed the Punjab. "All these fancies are pervaded with that purity by which children seem to us so wonderful," said William Grimm. "They have the same blue-white, immaculate bright eyes." Little children are in this same wonder-stage. They believe that the world about throbs with life and is peopled with all manner of beautiful, powerful folk. All children are poets, and fairy tales are the poetic recording of the facts of life. In this day of commercial enterprise, if we would fit children for life we must see to it that we do not blight the poets in them. In this day of emphasis on vocational training we must remember there is a part of life unfed, unnurtured, and unexercised by industrial education. Moreover, whatever will be accomplished in life will be the achievement of a free and vigorous life of the imagination. Before it was realized, everything new had existed in some trained imagination, fertile with ideas. The tale feeds the imagination, for the soul of it is a bit of play. It suits the child because in it he is not bound by the law of cause and effect, nor by the necessary relations of actual life. He is entirely in sympathy with a world where events follow as one may choose. He likes the mastership of the universe. And fairyland--where there is no time; where troubles fade; where youth abides; where things come out all right--is a pleasant place.