Wednesday, July 10, 2013

THE LITTLE RED HEN : DOING IT OURSELVES

We know the Little Red Hen.

She was the one who asked her friends for help in planting wheat. 
Everyone was too busy doing their own thing, being lazy, or just  not caring enough to want to get involved.

We all know the Little Red Hen.
Or someone like her. 

Someone tremendously productive, someone ever ready to do something new and exciting --something requiring much work, but extremely worth the effort in the final estimation.

We all know her friends, too.  The too busy, the lazy, the indifferent.

We may, in fact, be the Little Red Hen, attempting to invite or provoke our friends, family, and acquaintances to get on board our next adventure train,  to join our newest cause, or support our latest brainstorm.

Or... we may be one of her friends.

The last time someone asked for your help, what was your answer?

Did you jump at the opportunity-- or did you beg off, citing your work schedule, your need for a break, or lack of interest in the whatever?

Or was it  that you agreed with the concept, project, or cause, but felt that one person, or even two, or even three would not make a difference? 
You may have felt the depressing and paralyzing weight of futility.

We have choices in every area of our lives.
We can choose to be aware, informed, and involved.
Or we can choose to be oblivious --or worse, we can be waiting on someone else to do what ever it is we are whining and complaining about--whatever it is we think needs to be done..

As teachers in this second decade of the 21st century, just as in every other aspect of our lives, we also have choices to make about who we will be---Little Red Hen ....or her disengaged friends.

As we watch laws being enacted that change our work, our curriculum, and the materials we use to do our work, are we being vigilant? Are we involved in the conversations?

Are we being the Red Hen and helping to make certain that teachers are involved in every aspect of  district, state and national educational decisions, or are we her friends who watch, and maybe complain, but do nothing for whatever reason.

We all remember the classic end of the story.  Once the bread is baked and smelling good and ready to eat, all of her friends come calling--ready to help eat the delicious bread.

In the traditional versions, the Little Red Hen eats the bread herself.
And as adults we cheer and say the friends got what they deserved.

But....young children,do not always agree with our view of fairness. Teacher Tom describes how his pre-schoolers, prioritizing sharing over getting even, concluded that the Little Red Hen  is a Jerk.   Click here to read his blog describing his young people's reaction to this story.

Here are popular versions of this classic folktale that children enjoy:



In some versions or retellings,  this story ends with forgiveness and sharing, with friendship and  vows to act differently in the future.
In some versions, everybody gets to eat.

How do we think the story should end?
Who do we think should get to eat? Under what conditions?

And what does that look like in the education profession?  
Is there a way to forgive those who are not  helping to make our profession the best it can be?
Is there a way to share with teachers who are whining and complaining,but not proactively engaging in the work that will save education and our children?

So how do we get involved? How do we become the Little Red Hen... or friends who are helpful?

A good place to start is your local teachers' union, along with the state and national levels.  All are good sources for updated information on political and legal matters related to education.

I live in Ohio, so these are my union  connections are:


OEA-ACE--Advocate for Children and Education

Other sources of information are the professional organizations to which you belong. 

For example, my field is English Language Arts so I belong to:





I am also a teacher consultant with the National Writing Project., which has a focus on social justice.   

All of these organizations have served to keep me informed. 
(The advocacy sections of the above organizations are italicized.)

In additional to education matters,  you will want to stay alert  to general local, state and national issues, as well.

Are you the Little Red Hen?
Or are you her friends?

Who can you help today?

How can you help? 

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities


What is the most important education issue to you today?

How can you get involved?

What can you do?

Write a letter to the editor about  this issue outlining your views and suggested actions.

Write an email to at least one friend asking them to get  involved in your issue, as well.


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