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“Growing numbers of parents no longer read classics such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to their children, because of concerns that they stereotype minority groups,” reports Graham Paton in The Telegraph.

However, Sally Goddard Blythe, child development expert and director of the Institute for Neuro- Physiological Psychology in Chester believes that: “Fairy tales help to teach children an understanding of right and wrong, not through direct teaching, but through implication. They help to develop imagination and creativity and they help children to understand their own emotional dilemmas in an imaginative way rather than through direct instruction.”

“When you don’t give children these stereotypes of good and bad, you don’t give them a moral code on which to start to develop their own lives”

The Telegraph report highlights the results of a 2009 poll of 3,000 British parents carried out by which revealed that: “A quarter of mothers rejected some classic fairy tales because they were too frightening and not politically correct enough. Stories such as Cinderella and Rapunzel were being dropped by some families for fear they might emotionally damage their children. A third of parents refused to read Little Red Riding Hood because she walks through woods alone and finds her grandmother eaten by a wolf. One in ten said Snow White should be renamed because “the dwarf reference is not PC”.

Rapunzel was considered “too dark” and Cinderella was being dumped because she is treated like a slave and made to do all the housework.

Fairy tales “show young people the strengths and weaknesses inherent in human nature, by contrasting good and evil, rich and poor and vanity and valour”

But Mrs Goddard Smythe in her new book, The Genius of Natural Childhood, argues that while fairy tales may tackle difficult issues such as the death of a parent in Cinderella, they prepare children for life in the real world. They “show young people the strengths and weaknesses inherent in human nature, by contrasting good and evil, rich and poor and vanity and valour,” whilst enlisting “children’s innate wish for good to triumph.”

Mrs Goddard Blythe also calls for greater use of fables and nursery rhymes to boost children’s development and language skills.

“These stories are not cruel and discriminatory; rather they help children to understand, firstly, the quirks and weaknesses of human behaviour in general, and secondly, to accept many of their own fears and emotions”

IN BRIEF Latin Teachers aged 11

Pupils from The Dragon School, Oxford are setting alight a love of Latin at local primary schools in Oxfordshire. They act as teachers in after school “Learn Latin” clubs and have brought their love of the language to over 200 state school pupils as well as bringing the classical civilisation to life with Latin charades and crosswords and films of what Roman life would have been like.

Pre-schoolers ahead

If you want your child to do better at secondary school then send them to pre-school – or so says the results of an international survey. The OECD has published a survey of tests taken by pupils in developed countries looking at the long term impact of pre-school education. The results showed that those pupils aged 15 who had attended pre-school were more than one year ahead of others.

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