Read the folklore masters. Go to galleries. Walk in the woods. That’s what you need to be an artist or storyteller.
For the past month, I’ve been doing a reading enrichment program with students. I wanted to explore Hispanic Heritage Month with plenty of informational texts on Latin Americans who are responsible for many achievements in America. However, it was the folktales that have captured my imagination.
Without marketing or social media, these folktales have spread and have been retold to countless generations because of some overarching truth being extolled between the lines. The ethos of any culture can really be captured in these folktales. So, I’ve been combining my informational text with folktales from Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, and Guatamala. The lessons, the challenges, and the value systems of each culture are passed through these folktales and into my classroom.
It made me wonder, had politicians taken the time to read the folktales of other cultures, perhaps their emotional intelligence and diplomatic skills would be greatly enhanced. Since my classroom has children from a number of different countries, it’s interesting to hear their input and the conflicting perspectives of any given tale.
I read a Mexican folktale called Ashes for Gold. A man is tricked into trying to sell ashes, something considered relatively worthless, for gold. One Bengali student told me that ashes are actually used in brush one’s teeth in parts of her country. I wasn’t sure if this was true so I looked it up and she was right, according to National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh. Click HERE to see.
So, maybe political figures should sit in a multicultural public school while reading folktales to get a sense of the many ways different cultures may miscommunicate. All I know is that I felt like I had this clarity to see beyond all differences between cultures with these folktales for a minute. They are worth exploring to ignite that creative spark too.
So Happy Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th-October 15th)! Now go read a folktale and let it inspire you.