Learning from Myth
The Greek myths tell of a legendary tutor who lived in a mountain cave. His name was Chiron, and he was a centaur. All the parents wanted their little heroes to be taught by him. Achilles, Jason, and Theseus were among his many illustrious pupils.
Chiron’s fame shows the importance the myths placed on education. And it raises a question: Should myth have a role in education today? We believe so, and recent studies are reviving notion that the humanities, the study of humans, or in other words, ourselves, still belongs at the center of a quality education.
Some educators are calling this Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). SEL learning teaches children to collaborate, to communicate, to manage emotions, and to show empathy. A report by the World Economic Forum relates, “A projected 65% of children entering grade school will work in jobs that do not exist today, a transformation that will require social and emotional skills such as creativity, initiative and adaptability to navigate.” How do you prepare a child to expect the unexpected?
Storytelling is at the core of developing social skills. It starts early, whenever a parent reads a storybook to a child. What is it that makes stories so crucial? They offer us viewpoints beyond our own and situations we have not encountered, but one day may. The current issue of Harvard Business Review has declared “Liberal Arts Majors Are the Future of the Tech Industry,” noting: “Stories, after all, steep us in characters’ lives, forcing us to see the world as other people do.”
The stories from ancient myth have been passed on from generation to generation. They are, in every sense, timeless. And it is not just job prospects that benefit from learning them. When exposed through development, the lessons of myth deepen reasoning skills, producing responsible adults and richer citizens. Let’s nurture our little heroes, so they too may pass these lessons on to the generations to come.