Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Bat, the Birds, and the Beasts

A great conflict was about to come off between the Birds and the Beasts. When the two armies were collected together the Bat hesitated which to join. The Birds that passed his perch said: "Come with us"; but he said: "I am a Beast." Later on, some Beasts who were passing underneath him looked up and said: "Come with us"; but he said: "I am a Bird." Luckily at the last moment peace was made, and no battle took place, so the Bat came to the Birds and wished to join in the rejoicings, but they all turned against him and he had to fly away. He then went to the Beasts, but soon had to beat a retreat, or else they would have torn him to pieces. "Ah," said the Bat, "I see now."

"He that is neither one thing nor the other has no friends."

One of my side jobs is to work with adult education teachers through the MARTI grant in investigating ways of making use of computer technology in their work with adult learners. Little did I know how much I would be learning by working in this area that focuses on life-long learning. It certainly has been an eye-opening experience.

This evening I spent several hours at the "Little Yellow Schoolhouse" with Ramsey Ludlow and her students. The topic was one of my favorites: Aesop's Fables. Such simple yet powerful stories always seem to strike a chord with students, no matter what the age. The above quoted story led to heart-felt personal stories from the students about the reasons they dropped out of high school. Ultimately it was because they felt like the bat.

Sometimes I wonder why we put so much attention on standards and testing in order to encourage student growth when the real issues are much more personal and connected with our culture.

Fables are a great take-off point for critical thinking for all ages . . . and are readily available on the web.

One of my all-time favorite teaching tools in my years as an elementary teacher was Albert Cullum's Aesop in the Afternoon, which is as timely now as when it was first published. Highly recommended. The other "modern" fable that generates great interest for all ages in George Orwell's Animal Farm, which never failed to get my fifth graders thinking.

Know any bats?

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