“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Albert Einstein
this quote by Albert Einstein should be taken with care. a legend has it that Einstein gave this advice to overly concerned mother who wanted for her son to become a scientist, just like he was. i guess his advise to ambitious, unnecessarily concerned mother was all that he could think of.
i didn’t quite talk till i was around 4 years old cause i didn’t feel the need to talk to others. my grandpa was scared that i might end up being deaf- mute so he would take me with him to hang out with his old friends that laughed, made jokes, played cards, drank, simply enjoying life. he wanted me to react to those sounds sensations and i absolutely loved being with him.
my brother and i were raised to take care of ourselves cause mum had to work and had no time to read us stories. instead, she initiated our own love for reading by ordering beautiful fairy tale books from germany or scandinavia. she was head receptionist and thus lucky to have acquaintances that could bring them for us (at that time no amazon,com was available). i remember my father telling me couple of years ago how much he missed an ukranian fairy tales book that belonged to his dad. as he put it, “the illustrations and stories in that book was something most beautiful i have ever seen & read.”
for a long time i was shy to admit i love fairy tales cause that was not cool. and cause they all had happy endings. but i wasn’t a fan of happy-go-lucky disney’s type of stories. as a kid, my favorite fairy tale was “the little mermaid”, written by my favorite tale writer hans christian andersen. “the little match girl” or “the ugly duckling” remained buried deep in my heart, even now more than 30 years later.
a few years ago, during my courses of contemporary theories at the academy of fine arts, i was shocked at feminists’ view on fairy tales, especially the ones i mentioned above. several female professors named h.c .andersen to be a chauvinistic, perverse writer cause they believe he purposely represented females in a degrading manner. i had to react to this irrational conspiracy attitude and defend it with the evidence of own life’s experience. i find it sad to see how people lose their creativity and heart’s passion once they enter the world of dry academical, snobbish intellectualism. i guess that’s why they can’t become crazy scientists or artists.
fairy tales are beautiful. they discover us the other, mystical side of life that presents itself as help in most difficult situations. through fairy tales, a person develops empathy, creativity, sensitivity, ‘skills to think & survive’, optimism…and often, she/he can break free from the touch of so called reality.
and now i ask you, what is reality? is it the horror presented on the tv or on web sites? is it the trick called fear that most people fear? is it the meaningless engagement in everyday’s rutting? is this reality really the reality of no exit by j.p.sartre?
no. it’s not. persons that claim otherwise didn’t read any fairy tales. their hearts and brains have shrunk to a size of a bean, preaching you that very little is possible.
are we, my brother and i, more intelligent cause of excessive reading of fairy tales? my brother became a surgeon specialist that deals with cancer diseases. i got two opposing ma degrees. personally, we don’t consider this to be a sign of intelligence. the sign of true smartness is the emotional intelligence that helps both heart and brain to work in balance and at its best. this sort of intelligence saves own and the lives of others, even in most difficult life situations.