IV.1 - Introduction to theory

The use of folktales and fairy tales in the classroom can take a lot of forms:

·         Teachers can use existing folktales

·         Teachers can make up folktales and use them for the purposes of the lesson.

Also, the folktales can be used:

·         In the form of a theatre action

·         In the form of interaction between students and teachers

·         In the form of a narration by the teacher.

1.1       Introduction and definitions

Creative learning can come in the form of narration, as a story or a fairy tale. In this case the teacher can follow theatre paths and methods. Creative learning is an acquisition of knowledge and skills through active participation. Story telling has the same characteristics. And narrating folktales as a teaching method has to step on the same routes more or less. It is a combined procedure of a creative exchange between the individual and his natural or social environment.

Learning is a complicated human function which has roots both in the psychological, and the physiological part of man. It is the outcome of internal as well as external operations, aiming at acquiring knowledge and skills. The process of learning becomes more interesting and compound once it moves out of the state of memorizing, to a state where fundamental human functions are involved.

Learning can be called creative if it stimulates imagination, memory, sensitiveness and the sentiment, mimesis, (following the Aristotelian idea), play, art and creation and also, learning, is creative, when it gains experience from the above. Using folktales as a teaching method, we do nothing less that placing all the above characteristics and elements into the educational process.

By using narrative techniques, adapting the lesson to tell it like a story recruit all the functions of the performing arts (theatrical and narrative) for the sake of the educational process.

Along with the narration and the use of folktales, a variety of other functions are recruited such as theatrical games, role playing games (role playing, or participation theatre) and storytelling. However, the target is always one; the conquering and evolution of man’s knowledge of himself, of his environment and the laws that govern it.  

The narration of stories and folktales as a teaching method, makes use of many theatre techniques while comprising a methodology for teaching. Creative and practical elements originating from a range of other arts, are likely to be used. However, the narration is likely to be the main source since, here we have the action and the experience incorporated, mainly the collective experience rather than the individual.

Here we have an alternative kind of learning, a methodology which takes elements from narration and the performing arts sector that could serve amateur purposes or not, but which, however, are indispensable for creating the setting in which we are to work.

The narration in the classroom differs from the performing art and theatre. In a theatrical play or in professional narration, our main interest lies in the outcome that it is integral and perfect, in other words, that the play is worth attending.  In the narration of folktales as a teaching method our main interest covers the medium, the techniques, and the various ways we use within the boundaries of teaching, whereas the final outcome depends on the extend of learning the students have acquired in other words, how well each time they grasp the learning object.

Once more we should make clear that creative learning should by no means get involved in the requirements of a ‘work of art’. The ‘beautiful’ we seek in a work of art, has an entirely different meaning in the issue of narration learning. In the specific case when speaking of the beautiful, we make reference to the extent of knowledge gained through playing, acting or creating. Our interest and preoccupation should be dedicated in the field learning, on how well we assimilate knowledge, and to what extend we conquer the object of learning.

1.2       Main characteristics of the narration

It is therefore within this scheme which is formed according to our educational aims and the manner in which the lesson is planned that we should take into consideration the following:

Human field

From the moment that narration moves on as the characters and the heroes are caught up in the “adventure”, we have to deal with a context of human attributes.  This happens both if the heroes are human or other entities but again with human characteristics (animals, plants, elves, dragons etc.). 

Imaginative realm

Whether the teachers use a well-known folktale or invent one for the needs of the lessons cognitive subject, they enter the fantasy realm and have to follow these roads to complete their lesson from start to end. 

Heroes – characters

The lesson through the narration methods will develop in between “entities”. Humans, animals or anything else that uses language and movements that are familiar to us.

The dramatic conflict

These characters will be built up a constructive conflict between them, that will have as a result the lesson, the cognitive subject and its understanding / learning by the students.

Imaginative place

The narrative action takes place in an invented place where time has no meaning or matters. Especially regarding the actual understanding of the lesson.


Characters and actions naturally escape the context of reality and become symbols. This is one more advantage. Symbols are poetically energized and carry away not only the mind but also the emotions of the students. Therefore, learning becomes more concrete and permanent. 

Our aim is that the children achieve the best possible understanding and comprehension. The teacher, therefore, is the one to choose the best possible way in handling each educational topic. It is known that there is a variety of issues and topics that we can approach and teach in the form of narration.

A lecture could also come as a combination of narrative and action. It could begin with storytelling, continue with action, and end with a story.

Teachers know that repetition and routine spoil the children’s interest and concentration span, and therefore finding new teaching methods and presentations that could initiate the unpredictable, the astonishing, or simply the novel, is highly advisable.

1.3        How you build a lesson based on folktales

If we are to introduce an instructional proposition to a lesson of such kind, we could begin by mentioning the following:

1. Defining the target

What meaning do we want to convey by teaching the specific lesson. What do we want to prove? This target has to be related with the learning objectives of our lesson.

2. Use our inventiveness in choosing an interesting fable which has

·         Conflict in the middle of the plot,

·         an interesting plot

o    beginning like “once upon a time…”,

o    development of the theme

o    and finishing like “… they lived happily ever after”,

·         conflict between two antithetical main characters or two controversial themes,

·         by the end of the story, we should be ready to have reached our goal.


3. Defining opposites factors

Which battle – discuss with each other- so as with the confliction to reached our final goal (Result – conclusion – message)

4. Defining-bring out main conflict results

If our narration was polished, children with the appropriate encouragement will express by themselves their results. At the end, a discussion should be organised on the story and children should be supported to identify what they have learned through the story.