Friday Two Cents: Imagine The Endless Possibilities


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This past week I introduced the afterschool students (grades 3 – 5) to the world of mythology, more specifically Classic or Greek / Roman mythology. I know the Ontario curriculum for grade 4 Social Studies has an Ancient Civilization unit on the subject, therefore I know the majority of the students would be or had been exposed to this theme. Yet I wanted to explore or really expose them to the world of Classic mythology as I was at their age.

We did activities such as maze/labyrinths runs, word searches, word scrambles and crosswords on mythical creatures. Colouring sheets on some of the mythical creatures, Greek vase drawing and scratch art; (I will try to post some of their creations in the next couple of weeks). But the big thing that I wanted to do was tell them the stories or tails from mythology. Like the traditional story tellers of old use to.
Prometheus's unending punishment

Prometheus’s unending punishment

I started with the creation story with Chaos, Cronus, Rhea, Zeus and the other Olympian Gods. Yet I then focused on the creation of man by Prometheus, the story of the sacrifice to the theft of fire, Pandora and his endless punishment. I continued telling them the story of the Iliad with side stories of the birth and legend of Heracles, Achilles, Helen, Paris and other details from the Odyssey and the birth of Rome with Aeneas as the descendent of Romulus and Remus.  
The students were mesmerized by the story and they wanted more but I only told them segments of the story everyday. Everyday they would ask about what happens next in the story. Their curiosity was amazing.
I was also a bit surprised by the student’s attention because most of this generation has a very short attention span. Study after study has proven this fact as well as my colleagues’ experiences and mine have backed this up. Yet their interest was so genuine that I too became excited when telling them. I even could not help myself by telling the students how these stories have affected them in their own lives. The story of the Roman civilization was one example they enjoyed. I told them that the Romans were first a monarch, then a republic; they had a civil war and then finally becoming an Empire. This is similar to the government and story line from the Star Wars movies. This surprised them and I could see that many made the connection. I told the students that I had a great many other stories I could tell them, but that would have to wait until another time. Many wanted to know more and I promised I would tell them more stories in the up coming days.
This experience was fantastic and it really made me feel good to bring this experience to them. Yet I think the greatest feeling I had, was telling them the stories. I felt like I was continuing the tradition of story telling dating back to ancient times. When story telling was the principle way to communicate thoughts, values and traditions from one generation to the next. It felt good to continue that tradition in a time when people want or need visuals to help tell a story. I suppose Carl Sagan was right;

‘Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.’ Carl Sagan

The true gift of humanity is our ability to “imagine the endless possibilities.”

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