Storytelling and Harmonious Dwelling: The Role of Fairy Tales in Environmental Education

This wonderful article, Storytelling and Harmonious Dwelling: The Role of Fairy Tales in En... by Joanna Coleman, instigates a fascinating and relevant discussion about our relationship with the animal world and how fairy tales can be a great tool for environmental education to help us engage in much needed dialogue with the natural world.

Abstract
Western thinking often maintains the idea of a felicitous rift between human and animal; evincing our linguistic capacity as the proof of our unique humanity.

From fireside to nursery to novel, folk and fairy tale has unceasingly presented an alternative perspective; success is impossible unless we put aside our human voices and speak in the tongues of the wild world, or take off our skins and enter the fur of the forest dwellers. As the impending environmental crisis urges us towards a change of thought and heart, we are confronted with a paradox; how is it that we empathize, to a large extent, only with our own species, when our tales
remain those in which courtesy to other species is, according to Marie Louise von Franz, the only consistent moral imperative?

A theoretical introduction is followed by a discussion of the Czech fairy tale Zlatovlaska: Princess of the Golden Hair, a tale in which animal speaking triggers adventure, and animal empathy secures success. Ecocritical theory today converges in hope that imagination and storytelling can reconfigure our dysfunctional relationship to the natural world.

Yet how does this work in the reality of environmental education? Discussion of the tale is followed by a pedagogical exploration of the ecological potential of the story in a creative writing classroom.
Comparing and ‘unwrapping’ tales to explore the values held within can open a lively environmental dialogue, and writing itself can transform object to subject, and give voice to that which is mistakenly seen as mute. Fairy-tale writing and performance can allow students to negotiate their own, original journey between the human and themwild world.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Bonnie Bright!

"... imagination and storytelling can reconfigure our dysfunctional relationship to the natural world." Tall order but I agree.

So often we are reacting to / dominating Mother Nature and not working for her. What is a fairy tale these days? Hmmm. What's myth to do?

I am working on a new process to create global stories / myth. Sneek Peak?

WOX

There are also delusional "fairy tales" about recent and not-so-recent past as well as the present. What is happening right now is that the space for a real "let's have a dialogue" opportunity to occur is very limited. The situation in Serbia is more tame and confusing, but WHATEVER you think about anything is either liberal or conservative. The human component was lost somewhere along the way. Are we a century too late (population growth, nationalism and violence as the answer) to imagine a more functional world? I know - neurosis, the collective unconscious, compensation, and all that, but how to stop falling if you are one meter above the ground, if some irreversible damage (more reasons for some to defend the status quo) has already been done?

I have been thinking it would be cool to create and old-fashioned type road show, carnival type thing that utilized story-telling to address issues of the environment and other various social issues.  I've wondered where to get information (stories) that would effect young people today and not quite sure how to go about the whole thing but it is a recurring thought I have when I think about things I could do to make a difference.

I'll travel with that show!

Now to figure out how to pull that off.  :)

In one of my previous comments here I compared a search for that effective story to the Grandfather Paradox. I don't know whether it's clear (does it make sense at all) what I mean by that, by I think that if you are willing to invite weirdness in your life, then some traces are already there. I've watched the films The Holy Mountain and Stalker and the series Prisoner (they are in a way telling the same story) just because they were either recommended to me by people with similar musical taste or because Lustmord (who has collaborated with Melvins, Melvins were recommended to me by a friend from childhood interested in hermeticism...) has made an album inspired by Stalker. If you will give up too early, then you (at least this is my opinion) you'll never receive an invitation (a call to adventure).

But that's just me rambling.

The village: The Zone: The Holy Mountain:

:) Thank you I will have to  check them out I don't watch many movies and appreciate the suggestions.  

Imagination (especially active) is a terrain where we still have to figure out what is real and possible. Wouldn't it be great (Again, what is real and possible?) if Darren Aronofsky's

Pi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jo18VIoR2xU

The Fountain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAuxryJ6pv8

Noah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRTlT3DEydU

were descriptions of the same person?

It's not like I'm being mysterious with some of my comments here, I just sometimes can't tell the difference between reality and fiction. I've also written something here: http://communityalchemy.com/eWorkshop1/index.html --> http://communityalchemy.com/eWorkshop1/Will.pdf (I was lucky enough that my microphone was broken during the workshop). I apologize to anyone who would delve my ramblings if there is more fiction in them than reality - it wouldn't be the first time and it would be unintentional.

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