A young golden eaglet, barely hatched, tragically found himself orphaned. At first, the situation seemed desperate and the eaglet appeared destined to perish. However, to his good fortune he was discovered and adopted by a flock of chickens from a nearby farm. Under their care and tutelage the eaglet learned to scratch around the barnyard and find bits of grain and other nourishing morsels.
He enjoyed his adopted family, but he also felt as though there must be more to life and that he had a destiny that was not being fulfilled. One day, while resting with several barnyard hens, he noticed a speck in the sky. As he watched, he realized it was a bird flying so high that, at times, it was almost invisible. Every so often, it would swoop down and float on the air currents and then flap its wings and soar again. The young eaglet turned to his companions and asked what it was he was seeing so majestic and free. They said to him, “That’s a golden eagle, the most royal of birds.” The young eagle thought for a while and then proclaimed, “I want to be like that. I want to fly high and swoop on the air currents and then flap my wings and soar again.” But no sooner were the words spoken than his companions admonished him. “We are only barnyard chickens—we don’t fly, we don’t dive, and we don’t soar.” The young eagle was disappointed, but he accepted the counsel of his elders. And so, he spent his life in the barnyard picking at the soil to find small kernels of grain and visiting with his barnyard companions. This sad tale can teach us many lessons. First, the help and support we receive today may tomorrow constrain us and hold us back if we are unwilling to break free. Second, we must protect and nurture our own dreams and not be distracted by naysayers and those who judge who we are by who they are. Third, we will never know what we could really be unless we are willing to invest in our own learning and associate with those who are accomplishing the feats to which we aspire. Think also about the students you support at your school. Use this parable to identify areas in which you expect students to conform. When is this appropriate? When might a student be held back from his or her potential? Train yourself to create opportunities for students, even if they seem out of reach according to the everyday world.