Why Fairy Tales in Class 1?

By Miss Rohini Bhatnagar, Class 1 Teacher

8 May, 2020

(Józef Wilkón, Polish artist)

Why are Waldorf schools so specific about the kind of stories narrated in every class? Why are fairy tales told in class 1?

These questions were posed by parents in my class meetings. They found some of the stories scary and with old fashioned themes.

At Waldorf schools fairy tales are an important part of the curriculum for early childhood and Class 1. They provide rich imagery to the dreamy consciousness of the young child. Fairy tales have an enormous and a deep impact on the life of a child.

They educate, support and liberate the emotions of children and they have a unique way of addressing the dilemmas of their inner life. Martyn Rawson explains that:

“Words and images in fairy tales have a potency of their own such as; stone, fire, wood, mother, father, bread, tree, house, son, daughter. Above all fairy tales speak an archetypal language of relationships and consequences; of journeys that have a purpose; of crises that have a logical resolution (and not always a happy ending); of challenges that have a higher meaning, and ultimately, they are about transformation and happiness, harmony and balance when order is restored”.

(From left to right: “Little Red Riding Hood” by Branden Rotkaeppchen, "Thumbelina" by Eleanor Vere Boyle, “Jack and the Beanstalk” by Scott Gustafson)

The prince, the tailor, the miller and Snow White are all images of different elements of our own nature. In the art and fantasy of fairy tales lies a deep wisdom which has the power to awaken the children from the sleep of ordinary life. The stories offer rich spiritual truths in their dream-like consciousness. The healing forces hidden in each fairy tale subtly prepares them and this becomes apparent when they step into adulthood and strive in the real world.

“Each person needs a field of activity for his inner life, willing, feeling and finally for his thinking soul. The child needs this field of activity for the strength of his soul as does each adult. If I do not present the child with the images of the language of the fairy tales, then the content of his soul will be supplied by the idle talk of the alley. Trivial, unimaginative bits of everyday conversation will rule the field of his soul resulting in a field filled with weeds.”
- Helmut von Kugelgen