Awesome Teacher Uses Fairy Tales To Teach Students About Gender Equality And Gay Rights
A fourth-grade teacher in Brazil has been using fairy tales to teach her students about complex issues like gender equality, sexual abuse, relationships, and gay rights by creating alternate versions of the well-known stories. Seems like pretty heavy stuff for a bunch of 9-year-olds, doesn’t it? Well, it turns out the kids are completely engaged in her lessons.
For example, the teacher (who has declined to be publicly named to protect her students) read Sleeping Beauty to her class, then had them watch Disney’s Maleficent, which shows a different version of the same story. The teacher had them compare the two stories, and one of the students observed that in the actual fairy tale, the prince’s kiss is what awakens the princess. In Maleficent, it’s the fairy godmother’s kiss. She claims the students then started a dialogue full of questions like: “Couldn’t the princess’s mother’s love be true love as well?” and “Does only the prince’s love count?” and, most interestingly (to me, anyway): “Why can only men save women?”
Disney’s Frozen was used to discuss gender issues with the class, because the movie makes it clear that true love isn’t always found with a man (like most fairy tales preach) but can be found in any other person, regardless of gender.
The teacher says the idea of using fairy tales to resonate these messages with her students came to her last year:
“I have also worked with a version of a fairy tale where the princes were gay, to talk about homophobia, which is another major social problem nowadays,” she says. I believe that the creation of a fairer society begins in the classroom and with children, since they’re very young. Teachers must always ask themselves: what kind of citizen am I helping to form?”
Her project is named “A different look at fairy tales” and is supported by the school where she works, which is pretty awesome if you ask me. I’m sure not every parent or colleague is on board (just a guess), but it’s great that her school district is behind her with this project. Kids are so much more intuitive and thoughtful than we give them credit for, I think. I also love candid, progressive teachers. Fairy tales speak to them, because they’ve all grown up hearing them. I think it’s a pretty great idea to get kids thinking about and questioning stories they’ve always been told.
Their classroom work actually ended up on social media earlier this year, where it was shared over 13,000 times.