Chicken Little: The World of Education

About Tracie Happel

Ms. Happel has been teaching for 25 years, specializing in special education/deaf and hard of hearing students and students with specific learning disabilities. She has also worked with regular education students at the elementary level. Ms. Happel worked for three years as a governor-appointed education commissioner, bringing the most pressing and recent research in national education to state stakeholders. When not working hard to inspire and educate her students, or collaborate closely with colleagues, Ms. Happel trains for and races in Ironman triathlons. She has two beautiful children who are beginning their lives as young adults in college, and in mission work. Ms. Happel is available for consultation services and presentations on a variety of educational topics. She can be contacted at traciehappel@gmail.com.

Do you remember the childhood story, Henny Penny? Or more commonly known as “Chicken Little?” As the story goes, Henny Penny meets up with several different animals and warns them the sky is falling after being hit on the head by an acorn. Oh! The terror! The fear! The worry…the SKY is falling?! Whatever will they do? Well, of course, they will run and tell the King. Surely, HE will know how to prevent the sky from falling, or at least save them.  But, alas, there is the Fox. He is smart, and he will get them to the Fox. Or will he?

“One day, Chicken Little was playing in the yard when WHACK! An acorn hit.”
“Oh no Turkey Lurkey! The sky is falling! The sky is falling! We must run and tell the king!”

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The world of education seems to be a lot like Henny Penny lately. Oh no! A new president! Plop! An acorn. Oh no! A secretary of education whose history shows she is for school choice, and for common core! Plop! Another acorn. A lot of professional discussion, rhetoric, articles, anecdotes, discussion groups, social media groups, and Yahoo! groups are talking about Common Core. Federalization of education. The teachers’ union. And all the other “horrible” things happening in our schools. Teachers abusing kids (I just heard a story the other day about a teacher who taped a child to his chair). How about those school lunches?

The world of education seems to be a lot like Henny Penny lately. Click To Tweet

But. Wait. Are our schools really that bad? Maybe on a political level (isn’t everything horrible on a political level?). But what about a human level? Every day there are chicken-little-2millions of teachers, most of whom care, heading off to some of the worst schools in our country. Schools without proper resources, teaching tools, conditions. Follow those teachers with the kids who show up at those same schools. Schools without desks, lighting, windows. Teachers and students come to school every single day in the worst conditions. On the other end of the spectrum, we have a very different set of teachers and students who show up in the best of schools. Beautifully manicured lawns. The best and most expensive technology. Gorgeous classrooms. These teachers and students learn to work symbiotically, they become a dance in their interactions with each other, administrators, and with other students. They find a way to listen, talk, learn, and educate. In many situations, teachers use their own money to buy the things their classrooms or students need. They spend plenty of their own time, whether in
the classroom, building, or at home, preparing lessons, thinking about their students, wondering and worrying about their efficacy. Students come to school to escape abuse, get food, find care and concern for them, and develop trust in another adult when their parents are unavailable. They come for guidance for future plans, or what community resource might provide shoes for their baby brother or sister.

At last they arrived at the castle. ‘King! King! They sky is falling!” the animals shouted to the king.
“The sky is not falling, Chicken Little! An acorn fell on your head,” the king said as he plucked the acorn off Chicken Little’s head.

While there are plenty of acorns in public education and a few too many Henny Pennys, Ducky Luckys, Goosey Looseys and Turkey Lurkeys, as well as that ever-loved Fox, there is a King in our story. The king is the fact that while public education has its rough points, there are also many more amazing things happening in our schools. Politicizing schools does not help them. Remembering that we teach children. We do need to focus on the human side of our human job. Pluck the acorns from your head. The King is right; the sky is not falling. All will be well in our schools.

there are many amazing things happening in our schools. Click To Tweet

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About the Author:

Ms. Happel has been teaching for 25 years, specializing in special education/deaf and hard of hearing students and students with specific learning disabilities. She has also worked with regular education students at the elementary level. Ms. Happel worked for three years as a governor-appointed education commissioner, bringing the most pressing and recent research in national education to state stakeholders. When not working hard to inspire and educate her students, or collaborate closely with colleagues, Ms. Happel trains for and races in Ironman triathlons. She has two beautiful children who are beginning their lives as young adults in college, and in mission work. Ms. Happel is available for consultation services and presentations on a variety of educational topics. She can be contacted at traciehappel@gmail.com.

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