A Fable for the Modern Age

This is the story of Patty.

Every weekend, Patty wakes up and does her yard work.  She loves doing it, and honestly, she’s a bit of a yard work expert.  She mows, weeds, rakes and trims in record time, and her yard always looks great.  No homeowner’s association could complain.

When Patty is done, she gets to enjoy the free time she earned by doing a great job on her yard.  Usually she just hangs out in her yard quietly, doing her own thing.  Sometimes, though, she gets bored and wanders the neighborhood.  Sometimes she’ll stop to visit her neighbors and they end up chatting, so her neighbor doesn’t always get their yard work done when they should.  And sometimes, when Patty got done so quickly and was enjoying her free time, her neighbors got a bit jealous watching her have some fun while they were still working.  It didn’t seem fair.

The home owner’s association decided that since Patty was so great at yard work, maybe her expertise could be put to use.  They asked her to help out some of her other neighbors with their yard work.  Most of the time, Patty didn’t mind.  She liked to be helpful. But sometimes, she thought a little wistfully of the time she used to have to herself when her yard work was done.  She didn’t always want to be helping others with their yards.

Finally, the homeowner’s association hit on the perfect solution!  There was an empty lot on the corner that didn’t belong to anyone. No one ever took care of it.  That yard needed taken care of!  None of the other neighbors had time, they were working on their own yards.  But Patty had lots of extra time.  She always finished her yard early and did a great job, so she’d be perfect for taking care of the empty lot.  As a bonus, Patty wouldn’t have time to wander the neighborhood and distract her friends from their own yards anymore, and no one could complain that she had too much free time.

At first, again, Patty didn’t mind.  She liked to be helpful, and she really did enjoy yard work.  She was good at it!  After a while, though, Patty found that doing her own yard was fun, but having to do an entire second yard became tedious and boring.  She never had the free time she had enjoyed anymore.  Eventually, she started to resent doing yard work until she lost all taste for it.  She was still good at yard work, but she no longer went about doing it happily.  It had, sadly, become a chore for Patty.


The moral of Patty’s story:

Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you want to do more of it, or do it all the time.  Giving the gifted students in your classroom more work or extra work is never, ever a good solution.


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