Pedagogical Value Of Folklore


Ethno pedagogy, as a special scientific discipline, is engaged in research of the educational experience of the people from a historical and cognitive point of view. The sources of the study were the works of folklore, ethnographic materials. Ethno pedagogy studies the folk experience of using oral poetic creativity for pedagogical purposes, the processes of formation and functioning of folklore as a teaching and educational tool in different periods and socio-historical formations. The article discusses the pedagogical potential of folklore as a means of ethno pedagogy. The work explores the problems of theoretical and practical understanding of the possibilities of pedagogical value of folklore. The authors researched the historical background of folklore and what genres of it teachers began to use in their work. In the article it is analyzed when and why children’s folklore was divided into special field by educators. The authors of the article also studied the works of prominent Russian and English researchers in this field.

Keywords: Folkloreethnopedagogypedagogical value of folkloreproverbsriddlescognitive work


In search of a solution to the problem of the humanization of education, teachers and psychologists try to find answers to the urgent questions in the past, to what has been formed over the centuries and which has already proved its viability. Modern days, in different countries, society pays special attention to the study of its history, tradition and, language. Teachers include folklore arts in teaching native language and literature programs. The aim of this article is to analyze and rethink the rich teaching and educational potential of folklore.

Problem Statement

Folklore art is a very good pedagogical source but its pedagogical value is not used actively by educators as it should be.

Research Questions

What kind of folklore arts are the best sources in teaching process?

How can teachers use educational value of folklore in their practice?

Purpose of the Study

Is to research the best folklore arts which can help teachers in their work in teaching and bringing up process.

Research Methods

The leading method of research is the study of theoretical and methodological works of linguists and educators on this theme. The authors highlight the following groups of the methods as 1) Structural and logical methods. 2) Research methods.

The novelty of the research is that the authors analyze the pedagogical value of folklore in educational and bringing up process. The authors give historic and pedagogic review folklore in intellectual and moral education of future generation.


In the first half of the 19th century, writers began to use folklore. A.S. Pushkin ( as cited in Anikin, 2007) began to study the folklore not only of the Russian people, but also the oral folklore of other peoples of multinational Russia. The poet emphasized that literature "is born of itself, from its own beginnings from oral lore." And since middle of the nineteenth century, the folk poetry of Russia had become the object of research not only of linguists, historians, ethnographers, art historians, but also teachers. This is due to the fact that there were some teachers who began to study the experience of folk pedagogy in the educational and educational process: Leo Tolstoy, Konstantin Ushinsky. In the 60s of the 19th century, the central issue in the ideological struggle was the "peasant question", a reflection of this struggle can be found in the folklore of that period. Folklore texts had a sociopolitical meaning.

Folk methods and means of education, training and development through the word were developed and improved from the century of centuries. The oldest forms of verbal creativity were oral lore. Due to folk signs, songs, fairy tales we know the ideas of ancient people about nature, the phenomena of reality. In the Middle Ages, oral folklore reflected the social-class differentiation of a society.

Echoes of that relationship are heard through tales, proverbs, sayings, ballads, fables, satirical poems, for example, in proverbs and sayings:

Russian say: Dead and rich are never guilty.

English people say: One law for the rich, another for the poor.

Social antagonism in a society led to the creation a special folklore genre. For example, ballads, epics, legends were widely used to glorify the rich people, the ruling elite, and feudal lords. And in medieval tales, the motive of antagonism between the rich and the poor was shown by folk in their songs, fairy tales, satirical oral stories where poor but clever men laughed at kings, or noble men. Middle ages were the period of developing social tales and fables about animals (most of which were satirical).

But the most important thing in folklore was that people tried to teach younger generation to coexist in society. Folklore brought up, socially approved norms of behavior. Therefore, there are so many fairy tales, songs, proverbs and sayings that criticize the negative aspects of the human character: envy, anger, arrogance, cowardice or people glorified the positive features of individuals - kindness, courage, devotion, respect, brevity etc. For example, there are many proverbs and saying about courage in Russian and English languages:

  • Brevity brings success. (Russian proverb);

  • None but the brave deserves the fair. (English proverb)

Many folklore genres as fairy tales, songs, nursery rhymes bring up love to nature. People used for this some fictional characters (brownies, goblins, water maids, forest spirits, etc.). For example, the Russians say: “If you kill a cat - for seven years you will not see any luck. Or, "If a dead snake (or a snake) is hung on an aspen, it will wake up and sting your child."

The English say: "If you wish to live and thrive, let the spider walk alive." In this case an important task of folk pedagogy by means of folklore is teaching children not to destroy environment. There are so many songs, tales, legends, ballads about ideal heroes. Every nation in its literature, beginning with a song, a proverb, a fairy tale, expresses its beliefs about what a person should be in his opinion. He adorns this ideal man with all the best qualities of his soul. In spite of the fact, each nation has its own ideal hero, bearing national features. For example, in Russian folk tales, a perfect person appears as a hero capable to defend his Fatherland (Ilya Muromets, Dobrynya Nikitich, Alyosha Popovich) ( Anikin, 2007). An English ideal hero is described in Scottish, English, Celtic ballads (King Arthur, Beowulf, Robin Hood). They were the knights who displayed miracles of courage, fighting for justice, for truth, they were strong and smart people ( Chumarova, 2000). In Tatar tales and baits, the ideal hero was also strong but he had to be dexterity cunning and ingenuity person e.g. Idegei, Chura Batyr, Tashkai, Kamyr-batyr, Salamtorkhan ( Anikin, 2007). But all ideal heroes worked hard, they were active. All heroes from Russian, Tatar, English folklore defended their homeland, help the weak and the poor citizens.

In folklore people pay great attention to the disclosure of the human inner world:

The Russians say: Eyes - measure, soul - faith, conscience - bail.

Tatar people say: Kuz - derya (Eyes are the sea).

The English people say: It is not the day coat that makes the gentleman. Or Diseases of the soul are more dangerous than those of the body.

If you study folklore from a pedagogical point of view, you can catch two schools of education - female and male, because the educational impact on boys is different from the impact on girls. With the help of fairy tales, proverbs, sayings, songs, the people brought up girls to be good housekeepers; and boys to be courage, endurance, to overcome difficulties. Many songs, proverbs are dedicated to the mother, whose love is equal to the love of the motherland. For example:

The Russians say: “It is light in the sun, but warm in the case of mom”.

The Tatars say: "Maternal heat is a solar heat".

The English say: “Mother’s love is the best of all”.

An important educational task of folklore was to cultivate a healthy way of life. Health at all times was considered the best wealth, so all ideal folk heroes are beautiful, strong, healthy physically and spiritually. Hundreds of years people created a huge arsenal of prescriptions, hardening tips regarding human health. For example:

The Russians say: Sick - heal, and healthy - beware.

The Tatar people say: If the sun is in the house, the doctor will not look in.

The English people say: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Philologists and teachers understood the pedagogical significance of folklore and highlighted children's folklore in a separate field of folklore.

Pedagogical science showed a particular interest in the upbringing of a child, in his poetic creativity, and determined the place of children's folklore in the educational system. Initially, under the term "children's folklore", researchers, those who collected folklore texts in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. English researchers accepted the poetic work of adults, intended for raising children: lullabies, nursery rhymes, fairy tales, riddles. The debate over the classification of children's folklore continued until the mid-50-ies of the twentieth century, as this question was very complicated. In the study of children's folklore, the researches met influence of linguistics, ethnography, ethno pedagogy, psychology. Academic researchers of this problem V.P. Anikin, G.S. Vinogradov, I.O. Kapitsa, M.N. Melnikov, K.I. Chukovsky and others (Russians) ( as cited in Afanasiev, 1996). British I., and P. Opie ( as cited in Thomas, 1965) made a great contribution to the study of the educational function of children's folklore. The great creative work of Anikin ( 2004) “Russian folk proverbs, sayings, riddles and children's folklore”, written in the late 50s, identified three main directions in the study of children’s lore. In the mid-50s, English reseachers made some significant contribution to the study of children's folklore in the UK. Particularly great attention was paid to the historical-genetic and pedagogical directions of the study of children's folklore. I. and P. Opie collected children's folklore texts in their books (horror stories, teasers, limericks), and they also tried to explain its pedagogical value ( as cited in Thomas, 1965).

An attempt to give the classification and definition of children's lore was made by M.N. Melnikov in Russia ( as cited in Afanasiev, 2008). In the classification, he took into account the principle of age gradation of children. Thus, the term "children's folklore" refers to independent children's creativity, works of traditional adult culture, acquired by children and adult creativity for children. The classification of children's folklore can be represented as follows:

Poetry: lullabies, petals, nursery rhymes, fairy tales.

Household folklore: Children's folk songs, calls and sentences, children's tales, nicknames, teasers, horror stories.

Amusing folklore: Word games, tongue twisters, riddles, fables.

Game folklore: formal role-playing games without poetically organized text, role-playing games, games with sentences, tongue twisters.

Ritual songs: religious songs, songs related to magic, words, actions.

In children's folklore is the key to understanding psychology of children, children's artistic tastes, and creative possibilities. The study of folklore without regard to folk pedagogy is unproductive. Therefore, in the 60-70s of the twentieth century teachers began to study it as a source and means of ethno pedagogy. There were some publications, articles, dissertations, monographs, reviews, sections in textbooks on oral folk art and children's literature. This was facilitated by a new view of pedagogical science towards the study of the pedagogical potential of the folklore of the peoples. Thus, oral poetic creativity was not only a combination of various types and forms of public poetic creativity that were included in the everyday tradition of one or another people, but at the same time performed pedagogical functions: educational, aesthetic, entertaining, developing some children’s skills etc. Folklore is an essential part of the national culture of each people, and sometimes it is the only source of knowledge of the history of the people, their consciousness, aesthetic representations of the nation of a certain era. Therefore, the role of folklore in the development of children's cognitive interest in their culture, history, language, as well as their familiarization with the treasures of other cultures is very high. Folklore as a source and means of folk pedagogy has passed the centuries-old test of effectiveness, humanism in the education of the younger generation. It takes into account the main pedagogical principles: accessibility, age-related education, study the world from easier things to more complicated; basic laws of children's logic and perception.

Currently, teachers also try to use pedagogical potential of proverbs, sayings, phraseological units. Back in the middle of the 19th century, Ushinsky (2009, 1990) wrote that they should be included into mother tongue textbooks. Since then, students of different levels of study in Russia, the UK have the opportunity to get acquainted with proverbs and sayings in the classroom in their native language and literature. At present, independent sections on the study of phraseological units in the Russian language have been compiled. Foreign language teachers use proverbs and sayings in teaching a foreign language. We can find exercises with proverbs and sayings in the textbooks on the English language by a number of authors where proverbs and sayings are included in the study of each conversational topic. First of all proverbs and sayings have didactic value, e.g.

a) They summarize the socio-historical experience of the people. Through proverbs and sayings, children get acquainted with the cultural and historical heritage of their people, for example:

- Dmitry and Boris fought for the city. (Reflects the fragmentation of Ancient Russia);

“I would not sing, but the Sabantuy festival makes me sing.” (Describes the entertainment during the Sabantuy holiday (Tatars);

“Take from Peter give Paul (reflects the situation in middle ages in the UK). Proverbs, sayings, phraseological units convey the practical philosophy of everyday life:

- Darn a hole until it's big (Do everything on time) (Russian);

- He who sleeps catches no fish (English).

c) Proverbs, sayings are actively used by folk pedagogy to educate moral qualities: honesty, love to the motherland, patience, frugality, courage, etc. At the same time, they are used to criticize negative sides of a person: cruelty, obstinacy, vanity, envy, cowardice, etc.:

- He became like a bull in the wall horns (Russian);

- Pride goes before a fall (English).

d) Proverbs help express the emotional state of a person: joy, happiness, enthusiasm or discontent, anger, fear in connection with some actions, deeds:

- Woe is the sea, you will not move (Russian);

- A wonder lasts but nine days (English).

e) Many proverbs and sayings are instructive, didactic in nature, or generalize phenomena, events, show the philosophical experience of understanding life:

“A crow cannot be a raven” (Russian);

“You can’t dig a well with a needle” (Tatar);

- Time and tide wait for no man (English).

h) Summarizing the phenomena of reality, proverbs and sayings indicate social ulcers that must be eradicated:

- The husband drinks - half a house burns, the wife drinks - the whole house burns. (Russian); Wine has drowned more than the sea (English).

Proverbs, sayings, phraseological units have great poetic value, they use a variety of artistic techniques: comparison, metaphor, metonymy, tautology, etc. Their belonging to the art of words, rhythmic design develops artistic skills, the desire to speak beautifully, figuratively. They are used in speech to clarify everyday rules, but also, they are used to train pronunciation, for example, unpronounceable sounds:

- Mow the scythe while the dew. (Russian);

- Never trouble trouble till troubles trouble you. (English)

Thus, prominent scholars of folklore - V.P. Anikin, V.I. Dahl ( as cited in Azimov, 1999) believe that the first proverbs, sayings were created because of the need to consolidate in the minds of people important unwritten rules, tips, customs, laws which were very important for the safe existence of human being. Over time, they not only consolidated the experience of moral education, the rules of human coexistence in society, but also began to reflect the history and culture of the people. Creative processes taking place inside the proverbs, sayings, phraseologisms themselves, led to the emergence of numerous options, versions, changes in meaning.

An interest in folklore is a manifestation of interest in one’s history, in the life of a people, in their thoughts, hopes, in their language and poetry, since at all times a person has expressed himself in work and in creativity.

Composing songs, fairy tales, epics, a person imprinted in them the life and customs of people, the change of seasons, the laws of the animal and plant world, the peasant calendar, the laws of human society, etc.

A man believed the magical power of words, with them he conjured nature, turning for help to his mother – the Earth, the sun, the wind, the water. But from the very beginning, folklore also had pedagogical goals. Listening and retelling tales, playing folk games, learning songs, solving riddles, the child don’t only developed himself or herself, but he also became the keeper of the history of the nation.


This study of folklore is an attempt to give educators an idea of the diversity of folklore genres, the peculiarities of its emergence and development, the laws of the folklore process itself, and that teachers began to use educational value of folklore since the 18th century in Russia, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the UK.

So that teachers today can appreciate the work of their predecessors, understand the pedagogical value, the importance of folklore, love it, enrich their knowledge of folklore, realize their responsibility for maintaining the pedagogical traditions of the people and progressive figures of previous generations.


The work is performed according to the Russian Government Program of Competitive Growth of Kazan Federal University. Published under the sponsorship of The Russian Foundation for Basic Research, Project No. 17-0600117a.


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23 January 2020

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Cite this article as:

Kasimova*, R. S., Gataullina, R. A., & Chumarova, L. G. (2020). Pedagogical Value Of Folklore. In R. Valeeva (Ed.), Teacher Education- IFTE 2019, vol 78. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 805-811). European Publisher.