Freshmen — Thursday, 8/27

Yesterday we ended class understanding that humans tell/create stories in order to make sense of the world and pass on knowledge or information (or to just entertain ourselves). Jumping off of there, today we looked at a particular type of story: the creation myth.

In groups of three and four students read one or two creation myths (a creation myth is a story about how the world began) from around the world and from different time periods.

After reading the stories, students answered these questions to present to the class:
–Personification of nature/natural events
–Hyperbole (exaggerations) of true occurrences
–Where/when is the myth from/who was the group of people this myth belonged to?
–What does the myth explain?
–Describe the main characters
–Do you think this is the definitive (only) version of this myth? Why/why not?
–Is the myth religious?
–Who do you think this myth was passed down to, and how?
–As a group, determine what the purpose of this myth is? How does this connect to the definition of mythology you came up with in the beginning of class?
–Anything else you notice?
–Does this myth give us an idea as to this culture’s “worldview,” or how this culture interacts with the world and the people in it?

After each group presented I asked what each story had in common with each other. For the most part, all these myths included some kind of higher being (like a god of some kind), or said that the world was created from some kind of natural disaster. In fact, many aspects of these myths are similar.

We ended class on these questions: What is the purpose of mythology? Why have we told (very similar) myths  for thousands of years? In asking this, we discovered that what separates myths from folktales and legends is that myths are usually religious, explain something we don’t understand and give us a glimpse into a certain culture’s “worldview” — in other words, we can understand something about what a culture was like through these stories they told.

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