What happened with Cecil the lion is a great tragedy. Children worldwide are sure to notice and ask questions about it. It is the perfect opportunity to tap into this natural curiosity and work on developing their questioning skills, as well as have some great discussions about needs vs. wants, human entitlement to the earth’s resources, and the reaction and effects of social media in its aftermath.
Lately I have been giving a great deal of thought to questioning skills and how to engage kids to ask deeper questions, particularly those that will inspire them to want to find out more and start an inquiry. Some of the strategies I’ve used in the past included playing 20 questions, doing a mystery Skype, using visual prompts or a mystery item and the Q-chart. However, those strategies usually failed to elicit that deeper questioning I was after. I came across two great picture books, “The Mermaid and the Shoe” by K.G. Campbell and “I Wonder” by Annaka Harris that help to introduce the concept of questioning for the purpose of inquiry and to illustrate its value.
Then I came across another picture book, “The Cloud Spinner” by Michael Catchpool, that made me think of Cecil the lion. In this book a boy is able to spin delicate threads out of clouds to later make into fabric. He is wisely taught by his mother that “enough is enough and not one stitch more”, so he makes enough thread to meet his needs, to make a hat to protect his head from the sun in the summer and a scarf to keep him warm in the winter. All is well until a greedy king noticed his scarf and demands that he make him one that’s just as beautiful only much longer. Despite the boy’s reasoning that the king does not need a longer scarf, the king insists. He later demanded that the boy make him a cloak and dresses for his wife and daughter. This leads to a cloudless sky and a big drought in the kingdom, until the king’s daughter returns the garments and the boy is able to spin them back into the sky.
It’s easy to see, from an educator’s perspective, why I fell in love with this book. It offers so many opportunities for making analogies to our own lives, to what is happening in the world, and asking deeper questions that will hopefully lead students into rich inquiries. Making the connection to Cecil the lion would provide students with a real life example of what can happen when humans feel entitled to take more than they need or deserve, simply for their own twisted sense of pleasure.
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