Tag Archives: myths

But why?

Just like scientists, children are curious, constantly asking questions, wanting to know why or how. Parents and teachers don’t always know the answers. In fact, there may not even be an answer – yet. The need to know is strong and “just because” won’t do. Coupled with creativity, thinking up new ideas and possibilities, curiosity has taken us beyond the imagination of myths and legends to knowing and understanding.

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills has challenged writers to “In 99 words (no more, no less) write about a creation myth. You can write your own, use one in a story or create tension (or comparability) between science and culture on the topic of creation.” As usual, she tells us to “Go where the prompt leads.”

Every culture has its own creation stories, told from the beginning of time when humans first walked the earth. Through stories, people attempted to explain their own existence and that of everything observable.

With only the skies for night-time entertainment, people found stories in the stars. As Duane W. Hamacher says in Kindred skies: ancient Greeks and Aboriginal Australians saw constellations in common in the Conversation, What we don’t yet know is why different cultures have such similar views about constellations. Does it relate to particular ways we humans perceive the world around us? Is it due to our similar origins? Or is it something else? The quest for answers continues.

As with stories told of the stars, there are some threads common to many creation myths, including stories of the first man and woman, stories explaining the existence of the animals and why they behave the way they do. I have read quite a few stories of floods, which I guess is understandable as these events occur worldwide.

What I love about the creation myths is that they testify to the innate curiosity and creativity of humans; the need to know and the sense of wonder combined with imagination and storytelling.

It is important to keep this sense of wonder and curiosity alive in children, and adults, also. Just a few days ago, as reported by Ray Norris in the Conversation, Exoplanet discovery by an amateur astronomer shows the power of citizen science. He says this discovery will help us understand the formation of our own Earth. It’s also a step towards establishing whether we are alone in the universe, or whether there are other planets populated by other civilisations.”

I think of questions asked by my granddaughter; for example, “Who came first, the mother or the baby?”, “If there’s gravity, why don’t the clouds fall down?”  or “Where does the sky begin?”

It is interesting now in this age of technology, almost everything we want to know is just a tap of a few keys or buttons away.

The other day I visited a nature reserve with my two grandchildren. (We went especially to see three baby bilbies which had recently emerged from their mother’s pouch, but saw other things too.)

We were looking at some black swans, which are native to Western Australia. GD informed me that white swans are not native to Australia. When I admitted that I’d never thought about that, she said, “Look it up. Look it up now. You’ve got your phone in your hand. Just look it up.” She was insistent and I did as told. She was right, of course.

How different this experience is from that of the first humans. Young children expect to be given answers based upon science or collective knowledge, not stories. But we still do not have answers to everything.  As Duane W. Hamacher says, “The quest for answers continues.”

In response to Charli’s challenge, I have not written a creation story. However, I have included the same ingredients that contributed to their creation: wondering, questioning, and imagination.

Unanswered questions

“What are you doing?”

“Pulling out weeds.”

“Why?”

“So the carrots have more room.”

“Why?”

“So they can grow big and juicy.”

“Why?”

“So they are good to eat for our dinner.”

“Why?”

“To keep us healthy?”

“I want to be healthy.”

“It’s good to be healthy.”

“I don’t want to die.”

“You won’t die. Not for a long time.”

“How do you know?”

Silence. How does anyone know?

“Silas died.”

“Who?”

“Silas.”

“Who is Silas?”

“Was. Silas was my friend.”

“I don’t remember Silas.”

“He was my imaginary friend.”

“Oh. How did he die?”

“I killed him.”

“Why?”

 

Perhaps there are some things for which we may never know the answers; for example, Can imaginary friends die?

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

 

Separating fact from myth

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

In a number of previous posts I questioned the importance of getting the facts right in fiction, especially for young children. Obviously there is a lot of fiction that is pure make-believe and fantasy and the facts don’t have to match those of the “real” world. However they do need to hold true for that imagined world.

The posts (links provided at the end if you wish to read) incited a great deal of discussion. A variety of opinions were expressed ranging from it doesn’t matter at all to it matters a lot. It seems many are willing to forgive inaccuracies in fiction if the book’s positive qualities make it more appealing. If the book as a whole is good, what is a little inaccuracy?

On the other hand, a book that “fails” for other reasons such as inadequacies or inconsistencies in plot, poor sentence structure, incorrect punctuation and spelling errors would fail regardless of the accuracy of the “facts”. Perhaps it is easier to accept one fault in an otherwise worthy product than it is to accept a faulty product with one redeeming feature?

The number of posts I have written on this topic indicates how much energy I have expended thinking about this topic. It is no surprise that my interest should be piqued by the post entitled The Irony of Believing Humans Use Only 10% of Their Brains, written by Paul Thomas and shared on his blog the becoming radical.

Thomas begins the post with a quote by Barbara Kingsolver from her book High Tide in Tucson.

“Write a nonfiction book, and be prepared for the legion of readers who are going to doubt your facts. But write a novel, and get ready for the world to assume every word is true.”

In the post Thomas refers to the movie Lucy, released in July 2014, which explored the effects of using more than 10% of our brains. Of course we do use more than 10% (100% in fact) but there is a commonly held myth that we don’t, and the movie served to perpetuate it.

In his post Thomas questions “when is fact, fact, and when is fiction merely fiction?” similar to the discussion in my posts. He says that the 10% of our brains myth is still widely accepted despite advances in neuroscience and understandings of how our brains work. He refers to the way “we” seek out information that supports our beliefs and ignore that which doesn’t. Mind you, in his article he mentions some myths related to education which I am going to ignore for now. I’ll leave those for another time.

Working towards his conclusion Thomas states:

“How much of our brains we use seems pointless if we remain a species characterized by closed minds, unable or unwilling to build on evidence to form new ideas, unable or unwilling to check our existing ideas against evidence.”

I’m inclined to agree.

What do you think? Do you accept the 10% myth or do you know it to be untrue?

Did you watch the movie Lucy? If so, how did your understanding of the 10% premise affect your enjoyment?

I’d love to know what you think.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I do appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Links to my posts exploring false “facts” in fiction:

Revisiting the Very Hungry Caterpillar

Which came first — the chicken or the duckling?

Empowerment — the importance of having a voice

Finding power in a picture book — the main event

Searching for truth in a picture book — Part C

Searching for purpose in a picture book — Part B

Searching for meaning in a picture book — Part A