We interpret the world by the scripts we have. The young ducklings knew that when Konrad Lorentz stepped into the pond and started swimming with them; he was accepted as their ‘mother’ (1) . Scripts (or schemata) make life easier, organized, and above all meaningful. Once discovered (or taught) we routine-wise like to follow them, like in the meanwhile ‘famous’ restaurant script where even minor violations in behaving according to the script immediately cause edgy reactions (panic even sometimes). Scripts are that helpful mainly because they relieve our thinking. Instead of being constantly alert and vigilant in the situations we encounter we just simply ‘read’ the script that will allow us almost in advance to know what will happen and what will be needed as a response. This comes into effect in reading and story telling as well. Listening to a story or following a story line in a book is highly governed by activated scripts (meant to be by the author or reconstructed by the reader/listener). It is comforting if a story falls into place. But, seriously, is reading, interpreting the world, behaving all living up to expectations?
What would happen if the story line deliberately develops contrary to expectations and violates the script we thought applies? This was scrutinized by a study with young children reading a story which followed a Good Mother script (nurturing and creating a safe environment from which to explore) but that gradually evolved into a Bad Mother script (the one in Cinderella). It turned out that especially in young children violation or a change in script was a highly disturbing event, even leading to a point that a child could find no reconciliation anymore which then led to distress and crying.
If our interpretations of the world are flawed it is certainly a disturbing thing but that is mainly because our thinking forsakes us. Imagine a story, a situation, a happenstance that perfectly follows script lines, it would, for an experienced person, get boring and soon be ignored. Books, story telling come to life by the twist they give to the scripts we have: not too vehemently for the inexperienced but may be more so for the knowledgeable. It is about challenging our thinking. A bit of cognitive dissonance (2) in the way we expect things to be will ignite new add-ons to our scripts and the ways in which we are thinking which, in education, ultimately means to confuse and stir up minds. It will let us know whether our expectations hold.
Einat Natalie Palkovich (2015). The ‘‘Mother’’ of All Schemas: Creating Cognitive Dissonance in Children’s Fantasy Literature Using the Mother Figure, in: Children’s Literature in Education (2015) 46:175–189
Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015