A mother once brought her nine-year-old, potential ‘prodigy’ son to Albert Einstein and asked how her boy could further improve on his mathematics. Einstein replied ‘Try telling him some stories.’ The mother persisted in asking about the maths issue. Einstein said ‘Tell him stories if you want him to be intelligent, and even more stories if you want him to become wise.’
I first read about Einstein’s views on stories and the imagination when I was a student teacher in the 1970’s. As my favourite subject was maths, I felt drawn to his writings and was intrigued to read why a mathematical genius like Einstein placed imaginative thinking on a more important level than ‘knowledge’. He argued that knowledge is limited to all we know and understand in the present, while imagination can embrace all there ever will be to know and understand. According to Einstein, imagination stimulates progress. Great inventions, he said, require an imaginative mind.
This was a new concept for me, and created my first link between stories, imaginative thinking and education. After passing my teaching degree at twenty-four I entered the workforce. Within six months I had my first experience of the power of ‘story’ on children’s imaginations.
I was working as an assistant in a kindergarten in Sydney, Australia. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the teacher decided to use a story from the Nutcraker Suite with its Christmas theme. She planned a visit to the class by the ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’. Needing someone to dress up as the fairy, the teacher convinced me to trust her decision and take on this role. I remember first laughing at this idea, thinking that the children would be sure to recognise me, and that this would spoil the magical mood.
On the day of the festival I disappeared from class during playtime, went into the storeroom and changed into ‘fairy’ costume. I wore my mother’s white satin wedding slip, carried a gold star wand in one hand, and a basketful of ‘sugar plums’ (nuts and raisins wrapped in red cellophane) in the other.
Meanwhile the teacher had gathered the 25 children around her, and at the appointed moment I nervously danced into the middle of the circle. The children sat in awe! As the teacher played some music from the story, I gave out a ‘sugar plum’ to each child. While I was doing this, one of the older boys, who had just turned six, reached out and touched my dress, saying with wide-open eyes, ‘I have never touched a real fairy before!’
After changing back into my normal clothes, I emerged into the garden where the children were playing. Some of them were still carefully holding their ‘sugar plums’, not wanting to open them until their parents arrived. Others were eating them slowly and joyfully. When the children saw me, they cried out, ‘Susan, where have you been, you missed the Sugar Plum Fairy!’
A mother once brought her nine-year-old, potential ‘prodigy’ son to Albert Einstein
有人把potential ‘prodigy’ 翻译成“潜在的神童”。这的确是potential ‘prodigy’的字面意思，但中国人难以理解什么叫“潜在的神童”？
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the teacher decided to use a story from the Nutcraker Suite with its Christmas theme.
请注意，with its Christmas theme 修饰的是 the Nutcraker Suite，因为《胡桃夹子》本身就是一个与圣诞有关的故事。因此“从胡桃夹子中选一个圣诞主题的故事”这种译法是有问题的。
I remember first laughing at this idea, thinking that the children would be sure to recognize me, and that this would spoil the magical mood.
“the magical mood”，我觉得还是“童话的氛围”比较合适，因为这是发生在幼儿园里的事情。
As the teacher played some music from the story, I gave out a ‘sugar plum’ to each child.