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Directions in children's literature Riverside radio WRVO in New York City presents the third in a second series of programs with Richard Lewis poet and teacher and leading authorities in the field of children's literature. At this time Mr. Lewis is guest is Miriam Norton editor and translator whose recent anthology harvest of Russian children's literature is published by the University of California Press at this time. Mrs. Morton and Mr. Lewis are heard in a discussion of the great Russian teacher of ski and his book from two to five. This is Richard Lewis. Today we're going to be discussing a most fascinating book which is by Corny chew cough Skee entitled from two to five which has been translated and edited by Mrs. Merriam Morton. And I hope that during the course of the program I will use the book as a way of getting into the whole problem of the education of children in terms of literature
in Russia. This is what I wonder if we could just begin by first you're explaining and telling us who Chuck Konski is in Russia. Could you could ski is a very venerated man of letters in the Soviet Union his activity in literature or both her adults and her children base back to 19 16. This is the year when he wrote and published his first verse. They are for children the title of it is the crocodile. And since then for half a century he has been writing poetry for the young child writing about the young child and has been translating and writing stories for children of all ages but the poetry is for the child from 2 to 5 to preschool or perhaps the
scope of his literary activities. It is illustrated by the fact that in 1962 when he was 80 years old he was given an honorary degree at Oxford University in London for his great services making known to Russians the wealth of English literature. He did this by first being a very careful painstaking and excellent translator of Shakespeare swift Chesterton Kipling. He also translated all of the poetry of Walt Whitman into Russian. Much of the work of Mark Twain and O'Henry but to go back to this honorary degree in England. Not only did Mr to cough skate translate leading English authors but he as a director of the foreign publishing
house in Russia he saw to it that full editions of many English authors were published in his country. He lives in the author's suburb 40 miles south of Moscow. He has a famous children's library near his home which he financed himself in this library there are books from all over the country and toys from all over the world and it's a center for children activities and has planned for many years. Twice every year festival for children in May to meet this summer. And in the early fall to say farewell to summer and during these festivals thousands of children come to carry daily you know to have fun what you Klasky he writes place for them and skits and songs and they all perform together.
Mr. Tokarski is 6 feet 5 inches tall. And as the champion great lover of preschoolers you can see what a contrast there is now between him and his favorites and they must really regard him as a has that giant full of magic. I wonder if you could just comment on the writer Leo Cosell and his birthday party and the reason I'd like you just to say something about this is only because you do mention the fact that writers for children in Russia are have a very high standing. They are considered almost in our standards movie stars and I think this particular incident you do talk about which I think was his birthday party is both touching and revealing about the whole nature of the literature for children in Russia. I see you as a man of about 60 who has written for the past 20 years for the Russian child and he has as he is a very imaginary writer and most of his books. He he has an
imaginary country and things happening that have a greater relation to our own times than to the Soviet Union. But he gives the children fantasy as well as deep writing. Well because Seeley was celebrating his 60th birthday the time I was in Russia and that his birthday actually was some day in July. I don't remember the exact date but he was present understanding the end of October his birth was in July this is the end of October. I met about a thousand Russian children who came together to celebrate his birthday and he was booked up until January for the same occasion so you see that he was very much in demand on his 60th birthday. Now this gathering was in Moscow at the Pioneer palace not the major one it was just a neighborhood pioneer. Headquarters but there were
a thousand children. Eight hundred children were and had been invited because that was the capacity of the auditorium and the children were chosen. The readers etc.. But 200 more wanted so badly to come that they hurriedly read a few mystical CEOs books wrote reports on them and there they were. There were no seats for them they were on the stage 200 of them standing up to join the entire program. Mystic AC It was on the stage and the program consisted of small groups of children from various schools various classes coming and greeting him offering him either flowers or something they had made in their activity clubs like a ship or a plane. By the way mystic a seal was met outside the building when he arrived by rocket that a rocket club had made and actually sent up into space not the space.
Upon his arrival. Before the end of the hour there was a large table full of flowers and there were all kinds of lovely little speeches and children had memorized whole chapters of his from his books particularly the more humorous ones and re cited them with great verve and great talent great histrionic talent. At the end of the hour Mr. Steele announced that he was on his way home. He was going to put the flowers presented to him on the monument to the Poet Maya Kautsky and the children were just thrilled by this. How much do the two Maya coughs giving you Mycoskie walk was and they felt greatly honored that the flowers that they had brought because to you would be put on the monument in my own skin. MARCUS Well I think that that certainly tells the whole story in capsule in a sense of the deep appreciation certainly that that Russian children have for their literature as they get to know their authors in various ways first of all there is a
book reviewing service to children of the authors write about their own books how they happened to to think of writing this book and they hold the sometimes the humorous or dramatic story connected with the book or they would write a preface in which they told them how they have to become a writer so that the child is not only brought face to face with the with the literary work but with the author's own existence as an author you know. And I asked them to become writers. I just like to at this point I just had something which we had discussed before the program that his eighty fifth birthday is coming up. And in order to celebrate this birthday they are publishing from two to four hours in an edition of 750000. I think this certainly speaks. For the popularity of the book. But what I was very intrigued about was the fact that this book is not just addressed to educators percent it's addressed to all
parents to all grownups who in some way deal with children. And I'm wondering which is more if you could perhaps go into some of the philosophy behind the book itself some of the ideas that he does have which I think are quite startling and yet very revealing about the man concerning his ideas on the use of fantasy the use of nonsense with children. Mr. Caskie feels that not only does the child from two to five learn acquire his own language no matter how complicated it is. But but in the course of acquiring his language he also learns how to think and how to explore his world. He maintains from a lot and his knowledge of the young child and language stems from many many years of observation and ducked and taking notes actually on how children speak. He maintains that from the age of 2 to 5 the child undergoes a very.
Unusual a period of genius with regard to learning his language. That after the age of five this genius sort of fades and what happens to the child and language during that vital three years leaves a lasting mark on the development of the child and so that this becomes very important in our added You're thoughts are very young child taught how we talk to him what books we read to him how we encourage his questioning and attitude we sure do his distortion of language to his groping to learn the language it's not merely a matter of imitating adults of the child. Has his own way of doing so. And first of all we must speak to the child and not sitting before a television set while we do
something else. The contact with the adult is extremely important in the development of the child's language thinking and knowledge of himself and the world around him. It isn't that it is important for the child at the age of 5 to know all about the world around him that is not the point. The point is to encourage this marvelous ability on the part of the child to acquire language and knowledge and this marvelous curiosity that he has. If it is not treated properly this curiosity is tortured and might have lasting effect on the child. The way that you go ask approaches that the young child and through him and other educators the way the whole country and the whole educational system of the Soviet Union approaches the preschool child really amounts to a very thoroughly worked out programme of activity with the youngster when he starts out. In other words this is the Soviet Union's version of the
headstart and it's universal there there's a tremendous network of nursery schools and kindergartens and pedagogy. For the young child is not just taking for granted it is highly developed into a system of education. You know I mentioned before the program again. With preschool children that there are certain toys that are designed that help the child develop his language sense I wonder if you could just describe some of those toys and how the toy is used as a means of developing the child in terms of his language. Well for instance when the 3 year old child is being taught and I'm putting the word taught in quotes the colors they would have little wooden disks in various colors suspended just a few inches above the easy reach of the child and they would improvise a game of reaching for various
colors and the teacher would call out a color and the child would reach for it in a certain way it becomes a game a very pleasant game so that the memory of the child is stimulated through this happy atmosphere of a game playing. There would have a lesson against in quotes in taste and that the children would have before them a little saucer with perhaps a slice of lemon a strawberry. Candy and they would actually taste these things and identify them with the words being introduced to them. Could you almost say that in Russia as opposed to the United States that they don't have a problem of. The non-verbal child that by and large with this educational system Gary has it is that the non-verbal channel is almost nonexistent. I would say that that they don't have a problem with the nonverbal child the kind of child that became non-verbal because of lack of contact with
adults who speak with him who develop him. Because first of all the pairing through books such as missed it your cops case and other books and lectures and programs and television and radio the parent is a pretty enlightened one there and that he tries very hard to cooperate with the educators to for the benefit of the child. Secondly the child begins to attend nursery school and kindergarten at a very early age where he is with adults who know very well his needs and who are educated to meet those needs in connection with him and speech and language and reading and literature. Now you might have some of the distinct children that something else children who are born with some defect or experience some trauma and that they don't respond at all. But the non-verbal child who becomes such because he's abandon neglected and has no communication with the adults that's practically nonexistent there.
There is this attempt at at really mass literary education at a very early age certainly in our country. This is one of the principles of a democratic society that we give all children equal opportunity in education. I must say against what's happening in this country with education I don't think this is the case that that most children who go to public school do not get the sort of literary education that you're speaking of. Now I'm wondering in Russia what is the relationship between this mass literary education and the quality that comes forth from this mass lower education. First of all the educational system there is standardized. That might work negatively but I think that in Russia education for the young child is being standardized is of great benefit because they're a dedicated educated talented people
in literature have. Been preoccupied with the education of the young child. First of all there is a tradition in Russia that goes back to the 18th century that the author is an Enlightener that his duty is to use his talent and his and his perception to lift the quality of life and culture of his country. And this has been true particularly of the writers for the young child. The Russians have always been very idealistic about their children and their but their authors have shared in this idealism and this interest to go back to the early years of the Soviet republic. Not only Maxine Gorky but a whole group of young poets and writers worked with him to develop what has come to be known there has a great
literature a little fall. One of their activities in the 1930s was to conduct a countrywide poll among the children in which the children wrote in. What kind of books they like. And from these answers a whole program of publishing was evolved. One of the things for instance that they decided must and turn it into a children's literature is a great deal of joy and gay A-T and an author like Maxine Gorky who's known throughout the world for his very grim realistic exposures of a life of the underdog. He wrote exclusively cheerful things for children and the younger people did likewise. Every time there is a Congress sub yet writers there is a there are separate
sessions on children's literature and very heated sections. I was also interested in along these lines that in the book there's a whole section on children creating their own poetry the poetry that not only comes from them spontaneously when they're very very ill but also they're writing poetry. And this is of particular says to myself that there is this much writing of poetry going on in Russia by Russian children. And I wonder if you could perhaps comment on some of the activities which are set up for children to encourage them to write in one way or another. Well love their art. Literary circles in schools that work with children under the guard guidance of a young leader to encourage creative writing in them and poetry traditionally being a staple of Russian literature or is foremost
in this work with children in the Pioneer clubs which exist throughout the country. Children from the ages of 9 to 15 belong to these clubs. There are many different interest clubs where children are worked with in creative writing. There are periodic nationwide contests in poetry written by children at these contests are widely publicized as they become for the period. For the duration of the contest. Part of the curriculum in the schools and generally no child who has any talent is without some special instruction and attention in writing poetry. I think that certainly if one could jump ahead to a question that I was
going to ask you this this is really the answer to the question which was simply what sort of influence has Tchaikovsky had on the Russian people. And I think if we could judge that that the igniting of the love of poetry certainly because it began at such an early age has that influence at an older age. This then is the answer to that that this book from 2 to 5 has seeped into the bloodstream of the people of Russia. I wonder Mrs. Morton if you could also simply tell us some of the problems you had in translating the book you develop a very interesting introduction to this and I think it is very relevant to to the book itself. Well in the way I had a lot of nerve undertaking to translate this book translations of Russian works into English published very widely right in the Soviet Union there translated there and they're published there. But although this book was first first came out in 1925 up to the year
961 no attempt had been made to translate this because they believed in the Soviet Union that this was not a translatable book. One reason for it is that it has many sayings by very young children distorting the Russian language in a very interesting significant way but still distorting it. These sayings had been translated into English with the same implications that they have in Russian. There are some past 600 lines of poetry in the book as illustrations poetry by children folk poetry all of it rhymed and it had to be translated if at all in a way to be good poetry and to adequately illustrate the point that the author was making. I knew that the Russians and the author consider this an translatable but I thought that the material was so useful so good. Good to know in English speaking speaking countries that I decided
even if my translation were not as excellent as it could otherwise be of the material one so demanding it was worth translating. I also took it upon myself and this I did very reluctantly of course because I had great admiration and respect for Mr Tarkovsky. I took it upon myself to abridge the book because certain sections of it would mean nothing to the English speaking person because there were discussions of Russian folk literature and its influence on the language and the child. So I just cut those parts out. There were also discussions about Child Guidance in the psychology of the child that were very repetitive because when the book was first written in 1925 the Russian parent was not used to think in terms of child guidance or illiteracy had just begun to be wiped out of that time and the Russian pair and was not as used to it.
Terms of child guidance as we are so that I cut out these repetitive passages and made it more interesting and unsuitable for the American and English parent. I think that I can see that our times sipping a wine is more but I think perhaps just as a quick ending. I wonder if you could just read just a few passages from one of Tchaikovsky's really great poems. The roach. Please give us a flavor of what he himself was not only trying to get from children but certainly advocating giving to children. This tale in verse. It's an animal. The title of it is the cockroach. I will not have time to read all of it so that I will send Knapp sized the beginning the occasion is
a picnic at the lake in which the whole animal kingdom of world is participating and they come back to the lake to have a fine party. Then a fierce Roach appears and he begins to terrorize the animals and there they are scared and they retreat. This is the way it goes. Suddenly they go wrong now in still Who is that coming round that hill a fierce and dreadful roach. A mean cock cockroach. Don't you dare to approach. He roars and rages. Lock you in cages and swallow you all like one tiny meat ball aware that much of my moustache. I'll turn you all to suck a dash. The birds they shatter the beast they flatter the poor crocodile forgets how
to smile. The hungry wolves in their alarm knowing no evil or harm right then and there they sup gobbling one another up. And that terrified lady dog falls into a faint and the prickly alas not one dares to fight every bird and beast takes flight. The lobster backing up a mild murmurs with a bitter smile. I too have a long moustache. I took an makes up at that. The cockroach continues to roar. The lobster backs up some more. Now the line climbs that hill from there he speaks as royal will. We must regain our happy land against the brute. We'll take a stand and to the warrior who fears not this for when this monster will overthrow to him I'll give a juicy bone and the finest pine cone. I wonder if I could just stop eating as well because I see I time really is in fact up now and
I want to thank you very very much for this interview. I can see that we can really go on for quite a long time on this. And oh I have one parting hope that I can certainly say and I think all of us can say that that this book and this particular man's thinking has had an enormous influence on the education and the life of children in Russia. Certainly I hope that it will also have the same sort of influence on educators and children in this country as well. Thank you very very much. Thank you. You've been listening to Richard Lewis and Miriam Norton in a discussion on corn a trickle of ski the great Russian teacher and his book from two to five which Mrs. Morton translated and edited for the University of California Press. Maria Morton has also recently published an anthology of harvest of Russian children's literature also under the University of California's imprint the poet and teacher Richard Lewis is the author of folk elections of poetry for children most recently miracles a
collection of poetry by Children issued by Simon and Schuster. And out of the earth I sing poetry of primitive peoples. Published by WW Norton and company. This is been directions in children's literature. The Third Programme in a series of 12 with Richard Lewis and leading authorities in the field of children's literature at this time next week Mr nears his guest is Roger Lawson director of the University Settlement House film club on the topic of teenagers speak through film for a free summary of this program. Right you don't really love the art department. B New York New York 1 0 0 2 7. Please enclose a stamped self-addressed envelope directions and children's literature is produced by Richard Lewis and Cyril Peters for WRVA on the FM station of the Riverside Church in New York City. This is the national educational radio network.
Series
Directions in children's literature
Episode Number
3
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
AAPB ID
cpb-aacip/500-f47gvp90
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Date
1969-01-03
Topics
Literature
Media type
Sound
Duration
00:29:16
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-3-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:06
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Citations
Chicago: “Directions in children's literature; 3,” 1969-01-03, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-f47gvp90.
MLA: “Directions in children's literature; 3.” 1969-01-03. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 25, 2024. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-f47gvp90>.
APA: Directions in children's literature; 3. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-f47gvp90