philosophical dialogues on hans christian andersen’s fairy tales: a case study of dialogue manuals

caroline schaffalitzky, anne klara bom


In Denmark, teaching the famous fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen poses a challenge in primary education because cultural heritage status and oversimplified readings make it difficult to engage students in authentic readings. A strategy could be to use philosophical dialogues from the tradition of philosophy with children because this is a student-centred approach to teaching where students explore questions and ideas together, and where the teacher assumes the role not as authority, but as facilitator of the dialogue. This kind of dialogic teaching has been encouraged as especially suitable for literary education where teachers aim to engage students in reading the literature with an open mind. However, this article presents a case study that gives reason for caution. It analyses materials for philosophical dialogues on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales and concludes that despite the dialogic ideals, the teaching design caves in to the weight of the cultural and historical impact of Hans Christian Andersen and his work.


Teaching materials; philosophical dialogue; Per Jespersen; Hans Christian Andersen; fairy tales

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