How not to tell bed-time stories

From The Hindu newspaper:

The four-year-old in the junior kindergarten class was smart and highly communicative. She was very forthcoming with her responses. I asked her what she liked and what she did not like in general. She loved her school, her teacher, her mother, and her grandmother. She did not like it when her elder brother fought with her. She also did not like it when her grandmother told her bed-time stories!

This was rather strange, since I had believed that most children liked stories told by the elders in the family. So I was wondering why she did not like her grandmother telling her bed-time stories. Maybe the grandmother saw too many “Ramsay Brother” movies and told her some horror stories — so I thought.

After some patient interaction, the little girl told us: “When she tells me the stories, I go to sleep. But she wakes me up and asks me — the moral of the story!” I was stunned by her unexpected explanation. What struck me personally was the girl’s ability to explain her discomfort. I also began to think about several misconceptions that elders have about issues related to the next generations.

Such as that we believe the stories are told in order that they would understand the moral of the story. Or that children go to the school to learn. Or that employees go to office to work.

Is it correct to assume that children go to school only to learn? They could be going there because that is what is expected of them by their parents. Or because they like to be with their friends in school. Or for the one teacher who tells them nice stories. Or they like the playground and the sports facilities.

The children are not even at a stage to understand the “moral” of the story. They may understand it cumulatively through several stories — which would be sunk in several layers of their understanding, only to emerge later. Or their moral of the story would be different than what we understand it to be. What about the pure enjoyment of the story by itself? What about several other uses of the story — such as understanding the language, relating to the characters, imagining the ethos, the feelings, and so on?

— Dileep Ranjekar. Transcending generations in education. The Hindu, August 19, 2011. Read the whole article here.

Published in: on 19/08/2011 at 10:14  Leave a Comment  

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