Be a mother duck!


A teacher once sent me this video. She thought it was an excellent example of working with high expectations. Actually, it’s a movie about learning. It is looking at learning and to some extent also looking at leadership. And in only a few minutes so many dilemmas come along. We use the video in workshops for teachers and supervisors of students. It triggers people.

We ask viewers before we play the movie when they get the urge to intervene. When would you go and help them? And we ask them to think during the film how many ducklings will not make it.

All the ducks make it and it is wonderful to see what the mother duck does. She gives her offspring really high expectations. She then waits patiently and she seems to have no doubt. She seems so certain that the ducklings will make it. Sure, this is my interpretation. That’s what I want to see. And that’s what also would be very good for our students. A teacher who is convinced their studentes will succeed… And a teacher who lets the students make their own mistakes, who is patient and just waits for the students to come up with the result.

The duckling that is first up, is that the biggest talent? Is that the high potential? Are we going to treat that little duckling differently in the future? Has (s)he proven that we can expect a lot of him/her?

If we could help the latter ducks … What would that do to their self-confidence? Would we not diminish their pride? Would they get the idea that they are worth less compared to the others? They just don’t have good jumping abilities? And that they need help?

Who do we give confidence and with whom are we breaking down the confidence if we are going to help?

Look around you in your class, at your team and colleagues. What are the high potentials and is that really the case? Or are they early jumpers, those who have won a small comparative advantage in the beginning and gained self-confidence because of that. Those who because of that small lead have gotten more chances in the beginning, where more of them was expected. Are they the people who have more cognitive history, have had more experience and practice and therefore have a comparative advantage. Is that the reason why they seem to outperform others?

If you teach or coach others… Be a mother duck.

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