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MFA for Educators

Engage your students with the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to illustrate themes and concepts in any discipline.

Leading Question #2

The Raven

Do you think that the Raven did the right thing by changing himself into a child so he could get the stars and moon into the sky?

Representing the Raven as having human-like characteristics and actions reflects a recurring theme within the Native tradition of storytelling – the Indigenous principle that all things have spirit. This coincides in our story with the Tlingit embrace of animism – the concept that all things are experienced as animate and alive and that all creatures have specific spiritual qualities. Extending this awareness of the interrelatedness of all things and the notion that all elements of nature have power and agency, we offer children in the early stages of formulating their own relationship to the world a powerful perspective that is immensely valuable. Native scholar Greg Cajete puts it this way: “Story is the way that we remember to remember who we are and where we have come from and where we can go as we enter the twenty-first century. The telling of story is such a universal part of human communication and learning that it may well be that ‘story’ is one of the most basic ways that the human brain structures and relates human experience. Everything that humans do and experience revolves around some kind of story.” (Cajete, xii) Implicit in the asking of a child to think about this story is the teaching of critical and creative thinking skills necessary for them to create their own stories. These skills cannot be underestimated because a person must be first be able to imagine the world in which they wish to live in order to create it. Cajete refers to this process as “the application of four basic disciplines of thinking related to the creative process is engendered as part of Indigenous storytelling. These disciplines are attention, creative imagination, flexibility, and fluency of thinking.” (Cajete, xiii)

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