Gianni Rodari – Teaching the Grammar of Fantasy

An old adage says, “We learn from our mistakes”. A new adage could say, “We use our mistakes to create stories.

Gianni Rodari

On the 100th anniversary of his birth (October 23rd, 1920), the Olympia Film Festival honours noted children’s literature author Gianni Rodari by organising a tribute to his memory, together with the Italian Institute of Culture.

The tribute includes three films based on Rodari’s works, a round table which explores significant aspects of his work and its influence on the educational process, and an educational workshop, which makes note of the “magic deck of cards” of his fairytales.

Cinematic tribute

  • The cake in the sky / La torta in cielo, by Lino del Fra, 102′, Italy, 1973
  • Blue Arrow / La Freccia Azzurra, by Enzo d’Alò, animation, 94′, Italy-Luxembourg,1996
  • The Onion boy / Cipollino, by Boris Petrovich Dezhkin, animation, 39′, USSR, 1961

Read more about the films and watch them here.

Round Table

Utopia is not utopic and imagination is a teachable trait

An author, teacher, journalist, musician, and intellectual, Rodari carefully observed the world and the needs of childhood, in a time when children were considered to be an amorphous mass, instead of individuals with rights. He provided educators with multiple tools, so they could explore new educational paths, as well as draw inspiration from discoveries in everyday life, art, music, and nature. He introduced children’s literature in schools, gave it a special position and encouraged children to make a game out of its art. Words became sounds, they were distorted, and they were set free from the rules, in order to provoke laughter.

Rodari’s research ranged from linguistics to semiotics, poetry, and philosophy, while it never neglected language games; these games arose from the meticulous observation of classrooms, which were attended by the children that Rodari collaborated closely with throughout the years.

For Rodari, creativity and imagination are precious tools in approaching all kinds of learning: divergent thinking and an open outlook (which goes beyond what is merely “allowed” and what is a stereotype) are components with which a good teacher should be able to educate his or her students. For Rodari, utopia is not utopic and imagination is a teachable trait.

Topics and speakers

“Rodarian” creativity and fantasy with videos, for an active citizenship and a planetary conscience – Lanfranco Genito, educator, president of the Fédération Internationale des Mouvements de l’Ecole Moderne-FIMEM

Gianni Rodari – Mario Lodi: Children journalism in Italy during the first post-war years Charalampos Baltas, teacher, member of the pedagogical team “To Skasiarchio”

Creating fairytales and stories with Rodari’s Deck of Cards – Kostas Stoforos, author

From Rodari to the classroom: creative approaches to narration – Maria Sfiroera, substitute professor in the Department of Early Childhood Education of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

Coordinated by Aggeliki Darlasi, writer-playwright

Educational workshop

Φτιάχνοντας παραμύθια και ιστορίες με την Τράπουλα του Ροντάρι / Creating fairytales and stories with Rodaris Deck of Cards

Kostas Stoforos, author

Utilising Gianni Rodari’s “Prop’s Deck of Cards” and together with painter Stefania Veldemiri, Kostas Stoforos created the “Magical Card Deck of Fairytales”. It consists of 21 cards, each describing a “function” of fairytales. Together with the children, he uses the cards to write and dramatise fairytales, utilising them like musical notes. As Rodari wrote: “we can use them to create countless stories, in the same way that the twelve musical notes can be used to compose countless melodies…”