Learners will read the story "The Collared Crow" and identify whether motivation, symbolism and extreme emergency alter an act of philanthropy. They will determine if the cultures and geography of South Africa are represented in this folktale. Learners will read "A Story and a Song" and "The Story-Bag" and decide whether stories and songs are meant to be shared or kept for one’s self. Through an analysis of "A Couple of Misers," learners will recognize what is important in life versus the accumulation of wealth even within a miserly existence.
Two Fifty-Five Minute Class Periods
The learner will:
- describe cultural/environmental characteristics of the story’s setting.
- determine whether reluctant giving is considered an act of philanthropy.
- identify and describe symbolism in the folktale.
- analyze the importance of rewards/benefits to philanthropy.
- analyze how the author’s choice of descriptors reveals the "character" of those in the story.
- debate the wisdom of hoarding one’s gifts.
- describe how greed can blind one to life’s real treasures.
Ask the learners whether giving, done reluctantly, is still a philanthropic act.
- Explain that it is important to understand people and their environment when studying their folktales. These stories come from South Africa, India and Korea. On a map, locate their absolute locations (longitude and latitude) and relative locations (general descriptors of where the place is located).
- In a brainstorming session, have the learners describe all three countries as places by listing recognizable physical characteristics (landforms, water bodies, climate, soil, natural vegetation, animal life) and human characteristics (inhabitants, settlement patterns, languages, religions, how inhabitants make a living).
- Explain that “The Collared Crow” is a story about an act of giving which is done reluctantly but produces a benefit for the common good. The farmer and his wife have little choice but to act philanthropically. Because they do, they are rewarded for their act.
- Read the story together. Identify what type of folktale it is (fairy tale, myth, legend/epic, tall tale, fable, religious story/parable).
- Split the learners into groups of three. Explain that when the unusually large flock of birds swooped down and ate the farmer’s sown seeds, he called them “those flying robbers.” He and his wife had planned to wait until the birds left before sowing their remaining seeds. Nevertheless, they agreed to scatter their remaining seeds when asked to do so by the white collared crow. Have the small groups decide if their action was foolish or if there was such an extreme emergency that there was “reason to take great risks to win great gains”? If the learners were in the farmer’s place, what action would they have taken?
- The farmer and his wife followed the crow’s directions exactly and were rewarded with eight babies. What symbolism was there in the fact that the farmer’s reward was a gift of eight babies rather than a pot of gold? What did the babies represent (rebirth)? Was this a “great reward” for the farmer and his wife?
- Ask the learners to identify what is revealed about South African culture in this folktale. Could this story have taken place only in South Africa or does the story have common elements with other places and people?
- What lesson is taught in this folktale?
- Even though the farmer and his wife were reluctant at first to feed the birds with their seeds, they did so. Was this an act of philanthropy? Did their initial reluctance to give their seeds away diminish their giving? If a person receives a benefit for giving (tax advantages, publicity, bonus gifts, etc.), can it still be considered an act of philanthropy? What would happen to organizations dependent on charitable giving if there were no advantages to giving?
- Read “A Story and a Song” together. Identify what type of folktale it is (fairy tale, myth, legend/epic, tall tale, fable, religious story/parable).
- Why did the housewife never share her story or song? Did she believe they were a treasure to be “hoarded” or did she not believe they had value?
- As revenge for being imprisoned, the story and song took a double revenge on the housewife. What were the two revenges?
- Because the housewife never shared her story or her song, they were taken away from her, and she was never again to realize their value. What lesson does this story teach about hoarding treasures, even when they are small?
- Ask the learners to identify what is revealed about Indian culture in this folktale. (The Monkey King is a Hindu deity believed to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Monkey King Temples are among the most common public shrines found in India.)
- Read “The Story-Bag” together. Identify what type of folktale it is (fairy tale, myth, legend/epic, tall tale, fable, religious story/parable).
- Review the details of the story by building a timeline on the board of each incident. Analyze the rage of the voices in the bag and debate whether the seriousness of the plots to kill the bridegroom was surprising. What does the final paragraph list as the moral of the story? What motivates a person to not share with others?
- Put a T-chart on the board with “bridegroom” on one side and “old servant” on the other. Make a character comparison by filling in the chart using the adjectives describing each of the two characters. Decide who the real “giver” is in this folktale. The folktale itself lists a moral of the story which deals with hoarding. What second lesson or moral can come from the story which relates to others who do good deeds for others, even at great risk?
- Ask the learners to identify what is revealed about Indian culture in this folktale.
- This story is similar in some respects to “A Story and a Song” but with more serious consequences. Put a two-circled Venn diagram on the board and label one “The Story-Bag” and the other “A Story and a Song.” Put the similarities between the two stories in the center of the diagram and the differences in the larger area of each circle.
- Read “A Couple of Misers” together. Identify what type of folktale it is (fairy tale, myth, legend/epic, tall tale, fable, religious story/parable).
- Ask the learners in how many ways this folktale addresses the theme of greed vs. generosity. Why did the storyteller, through the holy man, speak to the misers as if they were the most generous of people? If the holy man had left without granting the three wishes, would the misers have learned any lesson?
- The two misers loved their little son and wished to have their grain pit filled with money by the time their son grew to adulthood. After having lived such a miserly existence, would the son appreciate a space filled with money or would he regret having been the son of misers? What kind of role models were the parents?
- Using examples from the story, analyze whether the parents’ miserliness was wise or foolish. If they had been asked to name their most precious possession before the holy man visited them, what would have been their reply?
- What is(are) the lesson(s) from this folktale?
Working individually or in groups, and thinking about all four folktales, have the learners describe the one lesson that is being taught by the four folktales about reluctance to share treasures, whether large or small, with others.
Interactive Parent / Student Homework:
- At home, share "The Collared Crow" with a family member. Decide whether the farmer’s action of giving away the seeds was foolish or a desperate act in hope of a miracle. Discuss possible real-life situations where a similar decision might have to be made. What are other possible consequences of such an act?
- Discuss whether "hoarding" or "sharing" of a gift/treasure is wise.
Look at or read current news stories which deal with "reluctant" givers (hoarders). Which of the four stories do the stories in the news bring to mind?
Lesson Developed By:Evelyn Nash
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