Joseph Campbell on the role of storytelling in parenting

Here is an interesting excerpt on the impact of stories in a child's growth by Joseph Campbell in his book, The Hero's journey. 
"It is from innocent children that I learned what happens when a young soul is held away from the breadth and meaningful nuances of stories for too long. Little ones come to earth with a panoramic ability to hold in mind and heart literally thousands of ideas and images. The family and culture around them is supposed to place in those open channels the most beautiful, useful, deep and truthful, creative and spiritual ideas we know. But very many young ones nowadays are exposed almost exclusively to endless "crash and bash" cartoons and "smack 'em down" computer games devoid of any other thematic components. These fragmentary subjects offer the child no extensive depth of storyline.
When I have taught children as an artist-in-residence in the schools, I have found that many children were already starved for deep story before they had reached second grade. They tended to know only those from sit-com television, and they often reduced their writings to these drastically narrowed themes: "A man killed another man." "He killed him again and again. Period." "They lived, they died. The end." Nothing more.
One fine way parents, teachers, and others who cherish the minds of the young can rebalance and educate modern children's psyches is to tell them, show them, and involve them in deeper stories, on a regular basis. They can also begin to interpret daily life in mythic story terms, pointing out motifs, characters, motives, perils, and the methods of finding one's way. By these means and more, the helpers override the immense repetition of one-point-only stories that so much contemporary media and culture so harp on ad infinitum. The mythic is as needed as air and water. The mythic themes not only teach, but also nourish and, especially, energize the psyche. The vast world of story is where the child's spirit will find these most consistently. The radical knowledge and amazements found in stories ought to be every child's daily inheritance."
You can buy the book here. 

1 comment:

Emeri Gent [Em] said...

We live in an age where you and I know fully well that we cannot afford to shortchange our kids education, but we still live in an age where education is still more or less the same machine that served the industrial machine.

Parents who have never been exposed to transformational education will naturally have very little comprehension of education in a knowledge work era, because they have well and truly been machined themselves.

A machined existence will beget a more toxic home and a toxic home divided against itself will not operate whole - where bringing the money in the job of the adult and the education system is where kids are contained while adults figure out how much this education thing is going to cost them. So we are always stuck in vicious self-defeating loops.

I contend that the weakest link in the education system is the industrially machined parent and the strongest link in the education system is the holistic parent of the emerging knowledge age. The chief problem is the lopsided percentages, percentages which only father time at present will erase.

The past will always cry out to us what we have the power to change but education which should equate with the transmission of power into young minds, still equates with developing little rechargeable batteries, tiny souls recharged at every recharging station on the industrial conveyor belt of life.

The future gives us the power of the sun, the power of education, the power of love, the power of transformation through powerful diversity - and no matter how many decades it takes, we will get there - but here we are in the in-between age, and once indoctrinated cultures are stubborn things.

It then becomes a question of reframing for parents - so if we approach education holistically, parents who have been brought up to be units of commercial consumption do not relate to this frame, but if I said to those parents "hey, in the way I am educating my child, your child is going to be serving mine" - that is the kind of kick in the pants that tethered parents seem to understand.

When one has kids and see those kids through the education system, do parents come to school with grand intentions to benefit the entire community or do they come to school and tell the teacher - you look after my child, I am here to give you trouble if you don't.

That behaviour, that mindset is more childish than children and children lose their childlike wonder because of this adult childishness. What we mean by childlike wonder is a retention of spirit that should last a lifetime, what we mean by childishness is the parent who is learned helpless.

Time will do wonders but if we have an educational advantage by seeing education as a holistic thing - then gather the holistic together, like minded who create virtuous cycle - and when that power is visible, the follower will follow - and machined parents do know how to follow,

[Em]