Sparrows vs Falcons

No, I did not change the topic of this blog from online education to ornithology. This is more like one of these psychological tests in women’s magazines “Which animal are you?”.

Infact, it is a metaphor I made up from a blog post in the Myngle forum about the new visibility of “old” teachers due to the new group lessons and which I wanted to share with you.

As you know, the mascot of Myngle is a parrot. Therefore there are lots of bird related metaphors in the Myngle forum like “mother bird” for the CEO Marina Tognetti or “working for polly parrot’s crackers”.

The post that made me think about “Sparrows vs Falcons” is the following:

Congratulations Marina for the new Top List of courses, a double sword to new teachers. Now the student choice is completely oppressed and determined completely by Myngle.
Recommendations, indications and this lately created list courses this is exactly the situation of mother bird taking last piece of little bread, small bird could pick up and pass it to fat birds. Congratulations for your great job. Maybe new situations would come the next days, more oppressive… who knows!!

Read the complete thread here.

I thought a long time about small birds and fat birds. First of all, I am not fat! Secondly I don’t receive extras from Myngle and I don’t think my “fat bird” colleagues do. Au contraire, Myngle has a policy to support new teachers by recommend them to new students.

So after a while I came up with the idea of seeing the different teachers as sparrows and falcons.

Lets have a look at the sparrows first. There are far more sparrows than falcons and they are always in huge groups. When the times are good and there is a lot to eat, you will see thousands of them. The harder the times get, more and more of them disapear. Sparrows hang all day long around on public places and tshirp chat. When there is something to eat all of them jump on it, fight, yell until the most clever sparrow gets the piece and flies away, leaving the other hungry sparrows behind.

Now to the falcons. Falcons hunt alone and they don’t talk a lot. They are very focused on what they hunt and try to spare their strength up to the right moment. Then they attack. Sometimes they miss but most of the time their hunt is rewarded by a nice chunk of meat.

I think I don’t have to go more into detail to express what my point is. In the end, it’s the choice of every teacher if he wants to be a sparrow or a falcon. And before someone comes with the argument: “Teachers should be wise owls!” remember which species owls are ;).

So, what bird are you?

Sparrow picture
Falcon picture

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  • http://www.theenglishteacheronline.com Aniya

    Love it!!! We’ll I’m a Black(Berry)Bird 😉 I don’t class myself as a sparrow, they are around all the time, I have more interesting things to do tweet tweet 😉 When I’m hungry I go and get myself something to eat, but in the meantime I have plenty to nibble on, how about you??? 😉 Nice one Kirsten…

  • http://www.kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

    Thanks Aniya :).
    Hmm, hard question. A social falcon maybe? 😉

  • China_Mike

    Kirsten your posts are so, so very interesting. But I detect a strong note of Social Darwinism in your post, i.e. the strong ones deserve what they get because they are strong.

    In fact, one could argue that sparrows are more successful, in evolutionary terms, because they are more plentiful than falcons and probably they have better adapted to the world’s prime predator– our favorite animal, man.

    In some countries the prime avian predator has all but disappeared thanks to man. As a “harmless” vegetarian myself I always find it quite interesting when we use meat-eating predators as examples of success when, in fact, it well could be that the more social species, cooperative in the extreme, and able to co-evolve with the most dangerous predator (mankind), should be considered the more successful species.

    As long as we eat beef, the cow will outlive the lion. The falcon, beautiful, magnificent bird that she is, might easily disappear without man’s protection.

    I myself am a dodo bird.

  • http://www.kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

    Thanks Mike. You know, it’s Darwin year this year. And I knew that someone wold argue like you do. But you know (us) falcons are clever, too ;).

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/3337766/Peregrine-falcons-take-to-the-city-life.html

    But Darwin is a good point. Birds / teachers should adapt themselfs in order to survive on the single islands. If you teach on Myngle island you need other skills as on eduFire or as on your own website.
    Hmmm, so you need to be a “transformer” bird if you want to survive on every island?!

  • China_Mike

    I think this takes us back to one of our old discussions. We (???) concluded teachers need to be independent enough to compete on their own locally, while also taking part in a global platform so they can compete globally.

    But you have also taken this discussion in another direction- asking what traits make us (teachers) most adaptive and successful in an increasingly hyper-competitive, winner-take global setting. :)

    My take is that platform and teachers can be symbiotically successful but that for platforms to be understood by teachers as benign, cooperative partners, a certain transparency and willingness to communicate and move in step together seems to be required.

    I wonder who will create the perfect social teaching platform for teachers (as opposed to the perfect platform for students).

  • http://www.kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

    That’s a good question and worth a new post: What would the perfect platform look like? I’ll have to think about this.

    But one of the main points for me is that platforms should not be restrictive concerning the teacher’s activities “outside” of the platforms. eduFire does a very good job there. You can put several links in your teacher profile of your other “activities” in the web whereas Myngle for example seems to be very jealous if a teacher dares to use other platforms.
    Jon Bischke says: “We know that teachers try other platforms but we are cool with that. We KNOW that we offer the best service and community, so teachers will eventually come back to us”.
    I think this is the way to go. You have to be certain about what you are doing and offer the best service to your clients.

    Back to the birds now :).

  • China_Mike

    Kirsten says,”But one of the main points for me is that platforms should not be restrictive concerning the teacher’s activities “outside” of the platforms.”

    Mike says:
    I’ll go you one better. The perfect site would be one that could enhance a teacher’s competitiveness equally well both on-line and off.

    A truly neutral platform would have no bias in either direction, making it possible for the teacher to be the masters of their own evolution.

  • http://www.kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

    Yes, true. Do you know this idea of Koichi / edupirate.com already? The open credit system? I took it a bit further in my thoughts:

    Now wouldn’t it be great if there would be some sort of centralized credit system not only for everything you learn but also for everything you teach? This way platforms could implement it and no matter where you would teach students could see your overall reputation.