The Ugly Duckling or the Strange Grey Duckling

Yesterday at work, some children were unkind to another child with the standard ‘ I  don’t want to be your friend’ line, which is hurtful. A standard adult response is ‘We are all friends here’ but we know this to be untrue. However, ‘We all try to be friendly here’ rings a truer bell and can be followed through with more success. After this conversation, a student and I looked through a great basket of books labelled ‘Friendship and feelings’ which was on the centre shelf. We found a few good ones and I wondered about telling the story of ‘The Ugly Duckling’, and said I would do it as a prop supported story the next day.
When I got home, I  had second thoughts because the original  is hugely long. Then I read a comment about it from wikipedia which made  me wonder if it were an appropriate story after all.

Bruno Bettelheim observes in The Uses of Enchantment that the Ugly Duckling is not confronted with the tasks, tests, or trials of the typical fairy tale hero. “No need to accomplish anything is expressed in “The Ugly Duckling”. Things are simply fated and unfold accordingly, whether or not the hero takes some action.” In conjunction with Bettelheim’s assessment, Maria Tatar notes in ’’The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen’’ that Andersen suggests the Ugly Duckling‘s superiority resides in the fact that he is of a breed different from the barnyard rabble, and that dignity and worth, moral and aesthetic superiority are determined by nature rather than accomplishment.[1]   Not cool.

A third reservation arose when I thought about the word ‘ugly’. This word does not appear to be in the vocabulary of most four and five year olds wherever I have worked, and I certainly don’t  want to be responsible for introducing such an insidious and cruel form of unkindness. So even the title had to be changed to ‘The Grey duckling’.. (more…)

The power of storytelling

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The power of storytelling

(click on title to view)

This poster  demonstrates, in a  very simple form,  some of the practical applications which I cover. Exploring ways to support children to create their own  written and illustrated story is really almost another session, but inevitably each workshop touches on all the various aspects and is, in any case,  designed to meet your specific needs. Some centres really want to learn more about the theoretical justifications for oral storytelling and others want to dive straight into the practice and have a go at being a storyteller.

King Solomon and the Baby.

evelyn davis storytelling professional development early childhood education Well, the interesting thing is that even though I have scrolled through google and youtube I have never found the slightly adapted version of King Solomon and the Baby, which inspired me so much when I was a teacher at the Steiner school. I was only a relieving teacher at the time and was new to much of Waldorf philosophy. There were some powerful young 9 year old girls in the class, and the Main Lesson of the time was the Old Testament and most of the curriculum  material was linked to various stories from that volume. The reasoning, as I understand it, is that the Steiner school curriculum follows the natural cycle of a child’s development , which not illogically follows mankind’s own evolution.

William Harrer says: It is a well-known fact that fairy tales have their origin in the period of humanity’s own childhood, in far-distant times when people lived in a naive dreamlike state of soul, before the unfolding of intellectual capacities. According to the principles of biogenetic law, children pass briefly through the different stages of mankind’s evolution. Children between the ages of four and eight correspond approximately in their development with that period of humanity’s childhood in which fairy tales originated. An unspoiled child absorbs fairy tales during this period of its life, with an eagerness similar to the hunger and intensity with which a baby absorbs its mother’s milk. (more…)