Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rules! We don't need no stinking rules!

Here's an anecdote on the power of rules, tradition, and conformity:

Kayley loved Thanksgiving because it gave her a chance to spend time with her mommy and gramma, preparing the meal for the whole family. Kayley watched her mom slice off the ends of the ham and place it in the oven.

"Mom, why do you cut the ends off the ham?"

"Hmm... well... I... I'm not sure..."

"If you're not sure, why do you do it?"

"Well, I learned to cook the ham from my mom. Maybe you should ask her."

Kayley looked over to gramma and asked, "gramma, why did you teach mommy to cut the ends off the ham?"

Gramma thought to herself but struggled to find an answer, "Hmm, well... I... I'm not sure..."

Kayley was perplexed as her mom and gramma were.

Before long though, Gramma said, "Kayley, I learned to cook ham from my mom. Maybe you should go ask her."

Kayley walked out of the kitchen to the living room where her great-grandma was watching the hockey game. "Great-gramma, why did you teach gramma to cut the ends off the ham?"

Great gramma sat up and said, "Hmm... well... back in the ol' days, the ol' cook stoves were pretty tiny, and quite often the ham was bigger than the stove, so I had to cut the ends off the ham to get it to fit into the stove.


Rules have their place, but let's not forget that they should serve us not enslave us. Peter Drucker warns us:

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.


  1. Good little story, Joe. I added my 2 cents worth on my Posterous:

  2. Hi Joe,

    This reminded me of the saber-tooth curriculum , which I read during my teacher training back in the 1990s... You'd enjoy it if you haven't seen it already ;-)

  3. Hahaha! Adorable story and quite potent as an allegory of current traditionalist educational stances.

  4. Hi Joe, lovely story. I think you may like language plants. They break one rule, the rule of writing on straight lines, which goes back many more generations than Great-gramma. And the freedom and self expression they offer as a result is fascinating. It's certainly a progressive form of education and your views would be most welcome.

  5. Awesome anecdote! Who would have thought ham had anything to do with education. But I guess it does since we continue to try and squeeze an old system into a different time that really requires a new model. Just because it's what we know and are comfortable with. Thanks for sharing!