Monday, 5 June 2006

Stories of two hens and how they related to good education

by Christopher D. Sessums

[I found his site more often off-line than online, so the quotes here are more than "fair use"!]

Henny-Penny was pecking corn in the yard when something hit her on the head. She deduced that the sky was falling and being the good citizen that she was, she decided to run and tell the king. On her way she met up with several friends, shared her news, and together they raced to tell the king their finding. On their way to the king they ran across a fox who convinced them to take a short cut through his cave wherein all but Henny-Penny was killed.


the story of the Little Red Hen takes a different tack. In this tale, Little Red Hen finds a grain of wheat while scratching in the field. She reckons that the grain should be planted and asks her barnyard mates, “who will plant the grain?” Her friends disavow themselves of any such responsibility and the hen plants the grain herself. The wheat grows, needs threshing and milling and the hen inquires of her friends who will help with said tasks. None of her friends are interested in helping her so she does it all herself. Finally, the hen bakes the flour into bread and asks her friends who would like to eat the lovely bread, wherein all her friends agree that they would love to; however, the hen denies them this opportunity and eats it all herself.

In many cases, if we consider our current state of public education, the sky is always falling, graduation rates are falling, test scores falling, etc. Perhaps it would be worth inquiring who is responsible for this news? What facts are being used to clearly determine that we are indeed in a crisis situation? Is it possible that reporters and researchers are generalizing about a large population (e.g., students) using insufficient samples? When in a crisis mode, we tend to react without putting much thought into the consequences of our actions a la Henny-Penny.

The tale of the Little Red Hen also reminds me of educators who successfully integrate appropriate technologies into their classrooms. I have witnessed and heard tales of teachers working hard for their students, inspiring them in wholesale ways while their teammates, colleagues, and administration idly standby refusing to get involved, yet insist on taking credit for student success. Perhaps this is where the real crisis lies.

See the relationship?

Good, I have nothing to add!

But Christopher has, in his another post

Education is both about passing on what is known and inviting learners into the unknown in an effort to promote creativity and meaningful change.


A large part of the issue is how schools are designed. In most cases, schools are defined as delivery instruments and not as learning communities (or learning ecologies) where learning is not only the responsibility of students but also the teachers. Teacher colleges have made this all the more difficult by training educators to be delivery agents rather than provocateurs; mail carriers rather than artists or learning designers.

I am inspired!

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