University of Oulu

A traditional value portrait of an individual promoted in Serbian folk tales and fables

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Author: Shchegriaeva, Mariia
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Sciences and Teacher Education, Education
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Oulu : M. Shchegriaeva, 2016
Publish Date: 2016-04-11
Physical Description: 78 p.
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Pesonen, Jaana
Reviewer: Sääskilahti, Minna
Pesonen, Jaana
Literature is a very powerful educational tool shaping ideas, behaviour and values of children. In spite of the fact that folk tales and fables were not originally created as genres for children, nowadays they are viewed by parents and teachers as suitable for young readers and are even included in school programs. However, only few people realise that at different stages folk tales and fables influence all spheres of children’s development: social, cognitive, personal and, most importantly, moral. They are indirectly transmitting knowledge of the society and world construction together with social norms and values. This research aims at uncovering the hidden values and social norms that Serbian folk tales and fables promote. The choice of exactly Serbian folk tales and fables was purposeful since there is almost no research in English dedicated to Serbian folk literature and its influence on children. To achieve the aims of the research, there was a thematic content analysis of a collection of Serbian folk tales and fables done. The texts of all the folk tales and fables included in a book were coded and categorised. The use of content analysis made it possible to describe the importance of certain topics. The book itself called Српске народне баjке и приче (Serbian folk tales and fables) was composed in 2013 by Matijevich and contains 53 stories and a dictionary. I intentionally take the whole book because adults who read folk tales to children are more likely to buy a book and read all the stories from it than to select stories themselves. Social learning theory and modelling theory, used as a foundation of the research, claim that people learn from each other by adopting particular behaviour. Heroes of folk tales possess all the characteristics needed to be models for such imitation: competence, prestige and power, stereotypical gender behaviour, relevance to the child’s social context and familiarity. In such a way, children learn values and social norms presented in folk tales and fables by identifying themselves with heroes. Based on this fact, the values and attitudes of Serbian society could be uncovered by analysing the folk tales and fables in terms of personal traits of characters that are shown as positive or negative, cases of rewards and punishments, types of behaviour and social norms viewed as normal and traditional. Based on the data, I provide a value portrait of an individual that is promoted by Serbian folk tales and fables. The underlying idea of the analysis is that Serbian society is presented as traditional in terms of attitudes and gender roles. There is an obvious hierarchy, in which men are more important than women. However, some women and men possess characteristics not common for their gender, for instance, some heroines are smart and independent and some heroes may cry. In addition to that, Orthodox Christianity values influence all the aspects of life and actions of people by providing them with God’s commandments to follow. People ́s behavior goes in line with nine out of ten commandments. The one proclaiming equality among people does not work since in Serbian society there is a clear hierarchy, which requires addressing and treating others according to their status. The issues of validity and reliability were taken into consideration on all the stages of the research. Since the way I, as a researcher, can interpret the results is subjective and may differ from other people’s, I consulted my Serbian colleagues who helped me with translation in terms of what meanings they see in particular text units and if it is at variance with my views. Overall, the study opens up the educational potential of Serbian folk tales and fables and is useful for parents and adults working with children. I suggest my own ways of using folk tales and fables in working with children and describe the experience that other teachers had in using folk tales in classrooms to preserve traditional worldviews in children or question the status quo. Finally, researchers interested in the field may find quite many topics offered for further research as a possible continuation of this study.
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