THE BLOG
01/23/2015 11:05 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Teaching Cinderella in Sri Lanka

I told my class at the Brilliant Stars School in Sri Lanka the story of Cinderella.

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"Who here has ever met a fairy godmother?"

Each shakes her head sadly back and forth.

"I too have never met a fairy godmother!" I said. "So if Cinderella also never meets a fairy godmother -- how can she get to the dance?"

"She can stitch her own clothes!" said one girl cheerfully.

"And where could she get the fabric?"

"She can buy it. She can clean houses and get some money."

"Yes, Cinderella is good at cleaning!" I said. "And the shoes?"

"She can buy, with money."

The Headmistress shook her head. "This is a bucket with a hole in it."

"Try again," I said.

"She could steal her step-sister's shoes!" said another girl brightly.

"A bucket with a hole in it," said the Headmistress.

"How about studying?" I said. "She could study at school and get a good job, no?"

All the girls clapped their hands.

"And what could she become? What do you --" I pointed at each girl. "Want to become?"

"A doctor!"

"A singer!"

"A teacher!"

"Me too a doctor!"

"So what if Cinderella studies hard and becomes a doctor and buys her own clothes and shoes?"

"Yes!" the girls shouted unanimously.

"And how about this prince! Does she really want to marry the prince?"

The girls looked befuddled.

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"How about if she just goes to the ball and dances with whomever she wants?"

The girls smiled and laughed.

"How about she does not marry the prince!"

The girls clapped.

"Who here wants to marry a prince?" I pointed. "Do you want to marry a prince?"

The girls shook their heads, contemplating the prince.

"No," said one girl, wincing.

"No."

"No."

"No."

"No."

The girls frowned, thinking about that prince.

"Princes are overrated," said the Headmistress.

"So no marrying the prince! Cinderella studies, becomes a doctor and does whatever she wants!"

The girls jumped up in their seats with smiles.

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