Fairy Tales and fantasy have always captivated children. When they are outside of their own world, which is often a place of an uphill climb to learn and grow, then they can truly be immersed in the story at hand– and understand the characters. That means learning right and wrong, good and evil, and developing a moral compass. Plus, when the mind is open, all the words and vocabulary pour into the brain. The number of words a child hears is directly attributed to academic succes in school. Here’s to Fairy Tales!
Deena Weisberg is a senior fellow in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Her specialty is “imaginative cognition,” which studies how imagination boosts one’s ability to learn. Her research demonstrates that children absorb new material taught in the context of a fanciful scenario better than they do when it’s presented in more realistic terms. In a recent edition of Aeon, she challenges herself with a question she’s grappled with before: Why do fantastical stories stimulate learning?
What can be going on? Perhaps children are more engaged and attentive when they see events that challenge their understanding of how reality works. After all, the events in these fantastical stories aren’t things that children can see every day. So they might pay more attention, leading them to learn more.
A different, and richer, possibility is that there’s something about fantastical contexts that is particularly helpful for learning. From this perspective, fantastical fiction…
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