The art of storytelling for cross cultural understanding

Summary

Understanding and appreciating other cultures has long been a goal of many early childhood education programs. Yet, helping children develop an understanding and appreciation of other cultures is not easily achieved. The purpose of this study was to examine the use of fairytales and storytelling with young children to promote cultural understanding and peace education. We were interested specifically in understanding how children in a rural school in America would understand a Kuwaiti fairytale. After hearing two versions of the Cinderella tale, a familiar version and a Kuwaiti version, the children wrote their own story. The children’s stories reflected elements from both fairytales, yet showed each child’s unique interpretation of major themes, thus creating a dialogical narrative. Such experiences, we believe, can promote children’s understandings and appreciation of other cultures.

Keywords

Cross-cultural Story-telling Fairy Tales Literature 

Résumé

La compréhension et l’appréciation d’autres cultures est, depuis longtemps, un objectif de nombreux programmes d’éducation des jeunes enfants. Aider les jeunes enfants à acquérir cette compréhension et cette appréciation n’est cependant pas unt tâche aisée. Cette étude s’est fixé pour but d’examiner l’utilisation des contes dans le but de favoriser la connaissance d’autres cultures et l’éducation à la paix chez les jeunes enfants. Nous avons étudié en particulier comment des enfants d’une école rurale aux Etats-Unis pouvaient comprendre un conte de fée du Koweit. Après avoir entendu raconter deux versions du conte de Cendrillon, l’une familière, l’autre koweitienne, les enfants ont rédigé leur propre version de l’histoire. Les textes des enfants reflètent des éléments de deux sources, tout en mettant en évidence que chaque enfant avait interprété les principaux thèmes de façon unique et personnelle, créant de la sorte un récit dialogique. Nous pensons que de telles exercices peuvent favoriser chez les enfants une connaissance et une appréciation de cultures différentes.

Resumen

Comprender y valorar otras culturas ha sido por largo tiempo el objetivo de muchos programas de educación para niños. Sin embargo, ayudar a que los niños desarrollen una comprensión y valoración de otras culturas no se logra facilmente. El propósito de este estudio fue examinar el uso de cuentos e historias para promover una comprensión cultural y una enseñanza de la paz en los niños. Nuestro interés especifico fue entender cómo niños de una escuela rural en Estados Unidos comprenderían un cuento Kuwaiti. Después de escuchar dos versiones del cuento de la Cenicienta, la versión común y la versión Kuwaiti, los niños escribieron su propio cuento. Los cuentos de los niños reflejaron elementos de las dos versiones del cuento, mostraron la interpretación de los temas centrales de cada niño y por lo tanto, crearon una narrativa de diálogo. Este tipo de experiencias, creemos, puede promover en los niños la comprensión y la valoración de otras culturas.

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Copyright information

© Springer 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Education, Kuwait UniversityKeifanKuwait
  2. 2.Early Childhood Education, School of EducationIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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