Parable of the Howling Dog

taken from
How many of you have heard of the Parable of the Howling Dog? I am reminded of this as I repaired something at school today. I read about it a few years ago from 'Even A Moron With A Dream' by Pathman Senathirajah & was blown away. I think this parable will give everyone from all walks of life something to reflect upon.

Once upon a time, there was this horrible howling sound coming from a wooden house. All day & all night a dog could be heard howling loudly & painfully. Neighbours felt really sorry for the dog. When they peeked out of their windows, they'd see the dog howling away at the front porch of the wooden house. He didn't look injured or hungry so they decided to mind their own business & let it pass. However, days, weeks & months would pass with the dog still howling painfully away. It never stopped.

One day, a neighbour had had enough & decided to walk up to the house to confront the owners. He asked if the dog was injured or needed medical care. The owner said, 'no. The dog is perfectly fine.' The neighbour was bewildered. The dog was howling so loud & for so many days. He scratched his head & curiously asked the owner what was going on. 'He's sitting on a nail,' explained the owner. The neighbour was even more surprised. 'Why won't he just move then?' he wondered out loud.

'He sits there because that's the part of the house which is shaded from the hot sun during the day & warm at night. The nail is painful but it's not painful enough for the dog to move.' said the owner.

How many of us are in a similar position in our lives? You have a brain. Think about it.

I guess in many ways, our education system is very much like the dog. It is in a bad position & it's pretty obvious. i.e. world rankings, PISA, TIMMS, personal experience, etc. But the people involved are very very very extremely so the very comfortable. Examples unnecessary. And let's not forget the loud & incessant howling. i.e. parent complaints, media, activists, NGOs, etc.

Is howling going to solve the problem? No. Action... MIGHT. How many people are actually doing something about it? I'm very thankful for all the great teachers out there (you are especially great just because you read my blog **cue unsuccessful veiled attempt to increase blog readership**) still hustling & keeping it real when ministers & officials are breathing down our necks for stuff they can use to SHOW learning instead of emphasising those which truly ENCOURAGE learning & lifelong learning. Not all of which can be explicitly demonstrated. I hope to grow up & be like you one day.

I am also thankful for NGOs like Teach For Malaysia & Teach For The Needs. They rally like-minded people together to take action & work on making a difference.

How do I avoid turning into a howling dog with something up his ash? Take the advice of a ridiculously overpriced manufacturer: Just do it.
Oh, since I'm spewing out cheesy quotes... Those who can... do. Those who can't... criticise.
Do what comes to mind. Think big. Start small. Any kind of action is better than inaction.

How small, you ask? Well, this brings me back to the repair I did this afternoon.

lo & behold, the glorified handiwork of this macho repairman dressed like a clean gentleman.
I cook. I clean. I read. I repair. Just about every stereotype in the book. Where's my chick?
As you can see, the switch has been replaced with a shiny new one. If you are not colour-blind, you will notice that the front & the back are of different colours. It's different on the outside but totally the same where it matters on the inside. Couldn't find the exact same switch any more because it is obsolete.

The old switch had cracks which interferes with its function so it had to be replaced. This problem was not big enough for the school admin to do something about it. Understandably so. Therefore, 8 teachers (including myself) endured more than 1 year of working in an enclosed environment without assisted ventilation.

It was the perfect situation to lose weight. The tropical climate ensured that we had the best natural sauna available at the lowest cost. Our experience was also enhanced by using the prescribed professional sauna attire with matching ties.

I turned off the main power, opened the old switch, figured out the function of the wires, rearranged them because the previous technician was a moron, screwed in the new switch, & beamed with pride as colleagues jumped for joy at the pleasant surprise.

What simple things have you been enduring or complaining about which are totally within your circle of influence?
Perhaps it is time to do a little something about it.
Short-term pain for long-term gain.

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