The Drama of Folklore: Stories as Teachers

Daniel A Kelin


For modern children and youth, folklore can be dense, and full of references to traditions and practices that are no longer recognizable. However, when students engage in a process that brings them closer to the material, and into a deeper analysis of the folktale and its various meanings, then the stories themselves take on a greater relevance. Not only do the students come to comprehend the possible meanings better, but they also appreciate the subtleties of expression and language and enjoy them. As the twenty first century has solidified the importance of visual multimedia, young people require ways other than merely reading or listening to cultural literatures, in order to be welcomed into and intrigued by these folkloric worlds. This article posits that process-oriented drama offers an effective method to engage participants in exploring folklore, keeping the process surprising, mysterious and stimulating, and encouraging the students to be collaborators in their own learning. Included are descriptions of the author’s own work with children and folklore, and examples of research studies that show the effectiveness of integrating drama into classroom studies.

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