October 28, 2005
University of Maine at Fort Kent elementary education students will learn firsthand, the uniqueness of storytelling as they take a lesson on folktales and develop it into a unique event that will showcase the tradition of passing stories down from generation to generation by word of mouth.
The students, enrolled in professor of education Dr. Terry Murphy's Reading for Elementary Teachers class, are studying folktales in children's literature. They have been tasked with developing a first-of-its-kind Folktale Festival that will be held in UMFK's Cyr Hall's room 202 on November 14 and November 17.
Working in groups, the students have been assigned to study folktales relating to various geographic areas around the globe.
Murphy instructed the students to begin their group exploration by reading sections that are pertinent to the countries identified for their team from a collection of stories in The Riverside Anthology of Children's Literature. The remainder of the project has been left to the students' creativity.
"The festival will celebrate the folktale and those who told the tales," said Murphy. "I have no 'big picture' of what this festival will look like. Each group will become the 'experts' on the places they have been assigned. I have instructed the students to make their contributions unique, creative, interesting, and fun."
In preparation for the assignment, Murphy invited Geraldine Cannon Becker, instructor of English, to speak to the classes about her personal experiences and writings of the folklore of South Carolina's Appalachian culture.
The final presentations by the students at the festival will represent many of the traditions that are represented in folktales, such as customs, beliefs, traditions, superstitions, legends, songs, languages, art forms, clothing, means of living and others.
"In addition to the exploration of the folk-tale as literary genre, this is also an opportunity for students to become more culturally aware, more culturally sensitive to others' customs, belief, and habits," said Murphy.
Members of the UMFK campus community are invited to contact Murphy for specific times of student presentations at 834-7538.