How did Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant transform learning into something more magically and wondrously creative?
The kids at the Fulham Palace day camp had already been read the tale of the giant accompanied by the gentle melodies of birdsong in the tree-lined grounds that surround the palace.
They had already, that morning, prepared lunch by themselves, to eat in the garden – which, naturally, was nominated as the Giants very own.
So with a delectable recipe of fresh bean crostini learned and assembled – learning to use the ever-handy and always fun pestle and mortar – they were all set to enter the Giant’s enchanting garden …
“The Giant! Look!” – Yes, amidst the running activities designed to encourage the children to interact and understand their surroundings, appeared the Giant, bellowing orders to banish the children from his lawns.
But the children knew better, having read and understood the moral of the story and the nature of the Giant.
So, instead, spontaneous activities with the Giant charmingly unfolded. Here was the beauty of the First Hand Experiences philosophy of hands-on, fun creative learning beautifully uncoiled.
They were living what they had learned, engaging with the tale amongst a garden where parakeets flashed their green livery across greying skies, reacting in real time with the Giant.
No matter how much the Giant feigned an icy heart, the children knew it was one that could be thawed. And so they did.
The morals and lessons learned in the story were not measured by test. But by organic creative engagement conducted by Justin and Erica.
Later, this same physical embodiment of merry creative education was eaten (in both the crostini and chocolate balls recipe) dug up (in the carrots planted and used for recipes) hung on trees (in the creation of baubles hung in the giants gardens) and garbled (in the drama games designed to get the children to improvise and think about language).
So that’s how the Selfish Giant inspired creative learning. He leapt from the page of a book into the bird-thronged garden that he commanded. He stood as an emblem for a fun and active learning experience. And the children showed him what they had learned. Not in a test. But in action.