Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Good Ol' Aesop, Teacher of Common Sense

“Fable is a literary genre: a succinct fictional story, in prose or verse, that features animals, mythical creatures, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature that are anthropomorphized (given human qualities, such as verbal communication) and that illustrates or leads to an interpretation of a moral lesson (a "moral"), which may at the end be added explicitly as a pithy maxim.”

Okay, we’re starting to get into fables in class, and frankly, I’m pretty excited. Anyone remember reading Aesop’s fables growing up? I still have a collection of them at home.

 Fables have been a part of human culture for centuries, though when many people think of dear old Aesop when the word ‘fable’ is mentioned. It doesn't really matter though, because the point of fables is to teach right? So as long my kid knows not challenge a turtle to a race, then go ahead, let Aesop do his thing. Anyone remember this:

HBO at it's finest ladies and gentlemen.
So, whats the point of me dredging up this piece of our ancient 90's childhood? I'm trying to point out the influence that Fables have actually had on our lives today. They are one of our earliest introductions to 'ethics', what is good or bad based on societies standards. Though fables can literally be anything and everything so long as it has a lesson, I prefer to focus on Aesop, as most of his fables are more 'bare bones ethics'. For instance the story of the fox and the crow, 'beware of flattery'. I translate this as  if some creepy dude for no apparent reason is trying to get you to do something by saying you're pretty (smart, ect), BEWARE! What we as adults might call 'common sense' does NOT apply to children just yet, as they have not experienced enough things in the world to completely understand what's common by our societies standards. Why do you think your parents had to TELL you not to talk to strangers? Most 5 year old's I know wont't shut up, and love to be heard. Unless warned otherwise, they're not going to care whose the one paying attention to them (or in my case pretending to).

So we can thank Sir Aesop of the Greeks for some pre-made, ready to go, life lessons for young children whose parents are either unable, or just too lazy to explain these things to their kids themselves. That's what my parents did  and I think I'm a pretty normal, healthily paranoid human being.

So for those of us deciding to write a Fable for our next assignment, just keep this in mind: if you write it well enough, you'll be able to tell your kids to do whatever the hell you want them to do, alll without the nearly impossible task of keeping their attention long enough for them to actually listen to you. And for those of you whose kids won't read? Well good luck to you then!

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