Together is Better

7 11 2010

There are lessons from the animal world which provide human beings with valuable insight.  On the heels of “We-Day” – a powerful movement that many students from Chilliwack Schools took part in earlier this month, I’ve been thinking lately a lot about the power of “we”. Many times in life, it is better to do things in groups rather than trying to accomplish tasks in isolation. There is strength in synergy. Cooperation is a fundamental skill that is taught in our homes and even in Pre-school and Kindergarten classes. As I’ve looked around, some of us get this principle and some of us simply don’t and the message of community is trumpeted in dozens of ways throughout the school years.  Even in the athletic realm, those who have played team sports have all heard the expression, “there’s no ‘I’ in team” (note: this is true, unless you spell it in French: “Equipe” definitely has the letter “I” in it).

Geese are the ultimate example of what community means. Here in the Fraser Valley, I’ve been noticing the flocks of Canada Geese heading south for the winter in their familiar V-formation. It was interesting for me to learn what science has discovered about why they fly that way. As each bird flaps is wings, it creates an uplift in the wind pattern for the bird immediately following. By flying in a “V” formation, even two geese add at least a 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. For longevity and distance, together is better.

Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone, and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front. Fascinating stuff.

When the lead goose gets tired, he (or she) rotates back into the wing and another goose flies upfront for his shift. Haven’t we all been through seasons where we need to rest and let others take over for a while? The animal kingdom has demonstrated this principle long before we implemented it.

Scientists also tell us that the reason why geese honk from behind is to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. It’s like the lead goose is hearing little encouragement messages from those in the back.

Finally, when one goose gets sick, other geese will fall out of formation and stay with the sick goose on the ground until he is able to fly again. Geese truly are the ultimate models of commitment. They are very particular in choosing a mate and when they do, it is for life. Some species of geese can live for 60 years. They remain committed together in good times and in bad. This is also a good visual picture of what it means to be committed to another when marriage vows are spoken.

Several classrooms I’ve been a part of have demonstrated a culture of commitment to each other. I’ve had tears to my eyes on occasion when I’ve seen this type of inclusion demonstrated on the playground, especially with those children who are visibly different. Selflessness is sometimes hard to find in a “me-first” world, but I’ve been impressed with the number of teachers who model the character trait of looking out for others. Letting others go first is not something that comes naturally to us, but I’ve seen this principle in action on several occasions in the school setting. This is so encouraging to me. Social changes are possible with proper modeling and instruction. I know this because one of the first words all children learn is the word: “mine”.

So kudos to the teachers that practically demonstrate the importance of community in their classrooms. Your tireless reminders are making an impact! Your affirming messages are making a difference! Your demonstrations of love and compassion will show up in the character traits of the emerging adults that you interact with every school day! Keep up the good work.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: