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Ricerca per l'innovazione della scuola italiana
Didattica laboratoriale e innovazione del curricolo nell’Area artistico-espressiva

The folktale as a workshop space for socio-affective education: the collective learning method

Tipo di ricerca: Esplorativa
Ambito: Ricerca istituzionale

The research combines an original way of working with the ancient and popular activity of telling folktales in the school of the first cycle (Gasparini, 1997 and 1999). This is a curricular activity aimed at building a collective version of ancient and popular folktales that finds a design and interpretation tool in psychoanalysis.

“The relationships between our typical dreams, folktales and other poetic materials are certainly neither sporadic nor casual,” said Freud (1900), paving the way to conceive folktales as a field of study and work for psychoanalysis, which includes at least two other important scholars who are renowned for their extensive production, precisely Marie von Franz, who assimilated the theories of Jung, and Bruno Bettelheim, especially for his reflections and indications on the pedagogical use of folktales as a symbolically meaningful and important narrative for the child.

Since the 1980s, when “experts and scholars, after having, for some time, questioned the educational validity and the ideological value of the folktale, tended to revalue it and to affirm, at various levels, its importance and almost indispensable nature”, it is no longer necessary to demonstrate the educational and formative value of folktales, which are now commonplace in didactic programming in schools of the first cycle, including nursery schools. It must be said that analysing the folktale by breaking it down in order to extract and name the parts of its narrative structure, by analysing the emotions the actants represent or by using objects or events described as a stimulus for the invention of stories or other exercises, is now common practice. The collective version, on the other hand, follows the direction indicated by Bettelheim, who warns against “an approach to storytelling with didactic intentions” or the attempt to “explain the meanings of folktales to the child”, actions which he considers useless since we do not know when or why a certain folktale may affect a child. Folktales can, however, be offered in a context in which children’s fantasies can emerge, without subjecting them to any educational reformulation. This means that every child, from the most gifted, in terms of intelligence, to the least gifted, participates in the activity without any advantage or disadvantage compared to others. This creates in each class a free zone without the inherent hierarchies that sometimes place the child in a position of marginalisation or inferiority due to his or her schooling difficulties or diagnosis. In this sense, narrating a folktale paves the way for a projective representation and the construction of personal meanings.


  • To explore the ways in which the use of the collective version contributes to develop the socio-affective dimension of students, building a workshop that encourages self-expression in which the re-narration of the folktale allows an individual’s own experience to be voiced, and to include it into the consensual discourse of the group.
  • To provide teachers with a tool that allows them to autonomously work on the socio-affective dimension of students, within their own didactic programming.

Research questions

  • How does the collective version of the folktale contribute to develop the socio-affective dimension of pupils?


Training is dedicated to all primary school teachers. Since this is a pilot project, laboratory and research activities involve a small number of primary school teachers (about 15).