Christina Quaine

Do fairytales have a place in the classroom?

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Many fairy stories reinforce gender stereotypes, cover disturbing themes and have horrific endings. However, research shows that, when approached in a thoughtful way, introducing them in the classroom can help children to develop life skills and cope with problems – as well as being a useful resource for teaching foreign languages, finds Christina Quaine

Do fairytales have a place in the classroom?

It’s 1944 and Albert Einstein is walking home from Princeton University, where he works. On his way, he is accosted by an old woman who is with her seven-year-old grandson. She asks the great physicist what her grandson must do to become educated. Einstein answers, without hesitation: “Fairytales. He should read fairytales.”

The old woman presses Einstein further, asking what else her grandson should read. “More fairytales,” he replies.

That seven-year-old boy is now 83-year-old Jack Zipes, a prolific scholar of folk and fairytales who has written many books on the subject. Now retired ...

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