Andersen in Bulgarian Pre-School Education Strategies
Andersen's biographers often cite the prediction: "A day will come when in your son's honour fireworks will be lit and he will become a great man but glory and fortune will wait for him a long way from here and now." This prediction together with the artistic impact of his works mingle in our idea of him as a torchlight of justice, a magician of letters, a teacher of the future.
For both children and adults he belongs to the world's greatest cultural and educational geniuses. His works form a traditional and modern platform naturally and permanently applied in educational technologies, serving as a revolt against routine stereotypes and inspiring creative and revolutionary ideas in children and adults.
His educational ideas and artistic merits have still got definite constructive assessment value for the development of the child's personality. And as far as we succeed in finding the way to the wisdom, love and magic in Andersen's stories in our first encounters with them, which are way back in childhood, we will resume reading them to acclaim our first excitement aroused again by the wisdom of experience gained in time.
Is Andersen's World an Existing Reality?The reality, in which the adult has got the calling to inaugurate the child in the order and chaos of life, in the beauty and tragedy of experience in order to elate the child's soul to a unique and valuable individuality, is Andersen's reality. Matchless is his humanism, his strong belief in grace, his championship of justice and everyone's right for happiness. He has a boundless love for the child and a great insight in the child's soul. He is the poet of childhood of all times.
The renovation of Andersen's artistic tradition with its great educative effect has been guaranteed in our pre-school educational system. Its basic merits are protection and enrichment of the values of the child's personality as well as encouragement of its artistic attempts. The selfmanifestation of the child's personality as well as its great inventive powers have been confirmed as basic targets of pre-school education. Through Andersen's tales the child's acknowledgement of national and universal merits is achieved in an Andersenian wayfor-life.
For the adult the child's meandering route in the world of fairy tales is a means for projection of the grownup's personality so that the child will get to know it. To the child, it is a search for its own individuality via perceiving the fictional reality and the surrounding environment, reverberating with it. Therefore the parentchildteacher relationship is a key triad in the exchange of the artistic values in the adaptation of his tales to a specific age group or to one particular child, in the gradation of educative interaction (i.e. practice-applicable, verbal, and gamecognitive forms), which ensure a childhood long perspective of contact with his works.
It is well known that Andersen's tales proliferate with educational practiceapplicable models. They have become an intrinsic part of the educational technologies presented in the child-oriented programme for educating children in the age groups from 2 to 7 (1993), which have resulted in the following:
- subjectsubject form of communication as well as creativity-focused methods;
- the child's personal experience and spiritual comfort forms a basis and objective in the child's upbringing;
- flexible approaches and recognition of transitionstages in the completion of the objectives of the child's personal experiencing, cognition and transformation of experience by intended and unintended educational forms;
- encouragement and support of the child's individuality in social communication in joint (teacher and children) activities;
- variety of educational strategies based on communication with art in different age groups.
The world of Andersen's fairy tales has been suffered with, dreamed of, deliberated on and enjoyed many, many a time by each and every child. Both wellknown and ever-surprising it is tenderly cherished deep in the child's heart. Thus in Andersen's world of realistic fantasies the child's selfrealization continually grows. It inspires the child's manifestations of creativity in its contacts with the world of every day and influences its projection upon the child's spiritual experiences, as an Andersen's tale has it: "Happiness can be hiding in a little twig as well."
Is Andersen's World a PracticeApplicable Fantasy?
There is a little line in "The Two Cocks" which reads: "Tell us what you think but it will surely not change our minds." Herein lies the basic constructive power of Andersen's works,which can be effectively cooperated with the objectives of modern educational programmes.
"We aim at achieving a change in the concept of adultchild relationship - from the ambitious project for bringing up our own likes to a programme for careful protection of the child's own individuality and delicate help in the development of its specific traits." (Programme for Child Education in age groups from 2 to 7, Sofia 1993.)
The child projects its own world inspired by the behaviour of its favourite characters - Kay, Gerda, Thumbelina, The Brave Lead Soldier, Ida. It actively recreates similar behaviour patterns in its contacts with the surrounding reality. So on the one hand the adult relies on the cognitive and behaviouristic values in these personages to provoke the child's compassion on the social problems, to call the child's attention to the aesthetic and moral values, interpreted in his works, in an enhancement of great fantastic visions. On the other hand, the child discovers those images, events and scenery and builds up its own spiritual and practical experience inspired by the emotional and cognitive impact of the story. Its spiritual relation to the characters urges the child to help them, to cheer them, to show its love for them. Thus emotionally motivated the children create: pieces of applied art after "The Snow Queen", "The Princess and the Pea", "Clod-Hans", "Little Ida's Flowers", drawings after "Thumbelina", "The Ugly Duckling", "Clod-Hans", presents for "The Little Matchbox Seller", little clay big dogs from "The Flintstone"; they act out puppet shows, improvise on "The Wild Swans" and "The Princess and the Pea", creating real pieces of drama art.
Reference Points for Putting Andersen's Models into Pedagogical Practice
Based on the model of adultchild relationship in a situation of
- the adult explains the difficult points in the story and describes the relations between the characters and the events which take place in the story, talks about the stylistic means used in the story;
- the adult provides factual and spiritual background for the adaptation of the story and uses active discourse patterns as basic regulator in interpersonal communication;
- the child perceives and deliberates on the artistic ideas or rather their reflections on its mind and projects them in its contacts with reality by means of games and talks;
- the child comprehends the ideas to the extent it can grasp the variety of plots, acknowledge the use of different stylistic techniques and apply and test them in different activities and situations;
- the child has a critical attitude towards the aesthetics of the tale as an artistic reproduction of reality. It uses its own experience and transforms it accordingly to its acquisition of the moral standards of the community it lives in.
The principles of pedagogical interaction result in:
- discussions of the tale's linguistic, cognitive and stylistic structures as part of the system of interpersonal communication;
- focusing on the pedagogical situation as basic in discussing works of art, in providing empirical knowledge and in transfering of situations into the practical, cognitive and emotional plan;
- highlighting the necessity of uniting the pedagogical objectives aiming at the achievement of educational effects in communication and the assetoriented behaviouristic patterns of the child in its "personal" contacts with art;
- the adultchild cooperation patterns should stress on selecting the educational objectives, defining the educational subject matter, finding out a specific approach to each individual child and encouraging the children's initiatives to interpret the stories in different situations.
The methods of pedagogical approach, i.e. the use of visual aids,
role plays, quizzes and games reveals a wide range of educational
strategies applied in activities based on work with art. They provoke the
child's participation as a synthesis of responses aiming at cognition,
assessment and expression of different stands and their adoption in the
child's own behaviour codes.
A brief review of some activities in a workwithart based pedagogical situation:
Topics for pedagogical situations: "the flowers", "the forest", "the river", "the town square", "the old town", "the palace".
- a stage model of an old town in Denmark, a square, a snowpalace, old houses, papier-machet images or puppets, photoes;
- sketches after Andersen's stories;
- drawing, application, modelling as activities based on his stories;
- storytelling, description of characters, inventive interpretation;
- musical interpretation;
- quizzes with questions on particular characters, motives, sceneries, description of life-scenes and nature, analogical events etc.
Possible presentations of pedagogical tasks (in the situations "the flowers" - "the house with the flowers", "the garden", "the marsh", "the field"):
- Gerda in the garden of flowers: The flowers tell her their stories; Gerda looking for Kay; Gerda starts crying - and roses grow from her tears, which reminds her of Kay; Gerda runs away from the garden of everlasting summer;
- "Little Ida's Flowers": The ball of the flowers;
- "The Marsh King's Daughter" - who by the force of magic is a frog at night: The beauty of the marsh flowers;
- "Thumbelina": the little girl born in a flower chalice who marries the prince of the elfs.
- Colouring of flowers after patterns;
- Acting out of an imaginary situation;
- Describing a flower;
- Singing songs about flowers;
- Playing the game "flower wreathes";
- Garden, field, forest and marsh flowers;
- Drawing a favourite character, scenery or scene from a story etc.
In Andersen's fictional reality glory and happiness are dreams coming true. Kay, Gerda, Thumbelina, Ida, The Brave Lead Soldier, The Little Matchbox Seller and The Ugly Duckling are some of the brightest stars shining in the firmament of worldfamous literary characters of all times. Their destinies, dreams, their entire spiritual worlds endow the little reader with wisdom and grace.
The world of today, the world of rushing technological development, as it is, hails Andersen, looking at us from the future and serving as an inspiring load star under whose bright light the child and the adult become one spiritual entity, glorifying the right to be a parent, a teacher and a child.
Andersen's starry light has shone over childhood, over adolescence, mature and old age for 190 years and will continue to do so.