So a school curriculum that includes education on fairy tales can be a vital way of exposing children to fairy tales, but I wonder what kids are actually being taught. Which versions are teachers using? Which tales do they choose? And what are kids being told to take away from the lessons? Many versions are very didactic already and I would hope lessons on Little Red Riding Hood went beyond "and that's why it's important to listen to your parents, kids, otherwise something horrible might happen to you like it happened in the story!"
I did a simple google search to look into some of the fairy tale lesson plans that were out there. The good news is there's plenty of materials for anyone hoping to teach on fairy tales. I was pleasantly surprised to see some lists of resources recommending lesser known fairy tales, as well as alternate versions of tales. In addition to basic comprehension/reading skills, teachers can use fairy tales to help their kids notice patterns and then make predictions about what might happen in an unknown tale; they expose their students to fractured fairy tales, and they can compare and contrast different versions of tales, such as this chart from abcteach.com comparing Cinderella to Yeh Shen:What a great learning tool! One thing my friend and I had both noticed when interacting with kids about non-Disney versions is this idea that the version they are familiar with is "right." Kids will interrupt a story with "that's not what happens!" or see a picture of a non-Disney princess and claim, "that's not Sleeping Beauty/Cinderella/etc.!" So it requires education just to convince them that there is a world of fairy tales outside of what they are familiar with, and the very concept of different versions.
Some lesson plans I came across that I didn't like as much. They tended to reinforce stereotypical/not even accurate ideas of fairy tales. These are from Pinterest:
Fairy tales were not actually originally written for children...They were mainly told for other adults, often to pass the time as they worked in the fields and homes.I like that whoever made this chart recognized the pattern of 3 and 7 (a great way to use fairy tales to cross over to math), but the happy endings are not necessarily always there. Fairies and godmothers are actually most often NOT part of fairy tales. And illustrations are pretty much just in children's book versions of fairy tales, they are not integral to the genre.
But, does an elementary teacher have to be an absolute expert in everything they teach? It's good that kids are being exposed to different kinds of fairy tales at all, right? And although some ideas about fairy tales may not always be true, like the happy endings, in general that is the case.
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