Do we have enough sense as geese?

I trust your summer was relaxing and you took time to refresh before the rush of the fall began.  Good luck as you plan your year with your singers.  It is my hope that as you plan your literature, performances and tours, you also add some community building time with your choir(s) on a regular basis.  I know we all have the best intentions to do an activity here and there.  Like anything else, sometimes it works out but sometimes you run out of time.  I would encourage you to be intentional with working in time for group building.  From experience, I truly believe that when you build community on a regular basis, you see big rewards down the line with your singers and your choir.

Today I’m sharing “Lessons from Geese”.  This will be a two-part blog that falls into the Level 3 of community/team building.  Through the years I have prepared different types of short and longer activities with these ‘lessons’.  With Part 1, I will focus on a longer activity.  I discovered “Lessons from Geese” at a teacher in-service in the mid 1990’s.  The lessons pull from the correlation between working together and what geese do naturally during their lifespan.  “Lessons from Geese” was transcribed from a speech given by Angeles Arrien at the 1991 Organizational Development Network and was based on the work of Milton Olson. It’s a great message with which everyone can relate. I’ve also completed this activity with my adult church choir.

The activity takes about 30 – 40 minutes total time.  Singers will need to have a regular pencil and several colored pencils. Knowing teenagers the way I do, you might want to have extra colored pencils for singers to borrow. Ha!  In preparation for the activity, I ask the singers to find a partner.  I’ve already taken the words from the lesson (written at the bottom of the blog) and depending on how many partners I have in the group, I’ve printed each word separately or in two or three word groupings on single 8” x 10” sheets of paper. Each pair receives one sheet with a word or small grouping on it.  

A.  I begin the lesson with the question, “Do we have as much sense as geese?”  I read the following fact statement (making sure I’ve also written the statement on a large paper or on a chalk/white board):

Fact 1:  As each goose flaps its wings it creates an “uplift” for the bird that follow.  By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.


B. After reading the statement, I give the singers about 7 to 10 minutes to come up with how they see this statement relating to their choir and working together.  They have to write down their thoughts on the back of the sheet of paper.  I explain to the group that there are no wrong answers.  After the time is up, I have each pair stand and describe how they thought the statement related to their choir.  I do a brief reminder to the singers that all thoughts are valued and are to be respected.  You’ll be surprised at how insightful the singers can be and how close to the actual lesson statement many of the singers will get.

C.  The next part is for the puzzle solvers in your group.  It’s really kind of fun.  Each couple will choose one to help solve the puzzle and one to hold the sheet with the word on it.  I explain to the singers that each word on a sheet will go together to form the actual lesson statement that goes with the “Lessons from Geese” fact.  The statement will be similar or have the same ‘tone’ to what they came up with as a group.  The singers need to put the words in the correct order to come up with the lesson statement.  The singers with the sheets make a large half circle holding the sheet up so all can see the word(s).  The chosen puzzle solvers will sit in front of the singers with the sheets and move the words around to make the lesson statement.  An added plus with this part of the activity is that it’s rather “telling” to watch the puzzle solvers work together.  You can address the good or the bad demeanor after they have competed the statement and relate it back to the lesson statement.


D.  After the statement is complete, I give each pair about 10 minutes to decorate their sheet with colored pencils and put their names on the front.  We put this statement up in front of the room.  It’s big enough for everyone to read and we refer to the lesson from time to time during the year.

Lesson for Fact 1:

People who share a common sense of direction and community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.


There are a total of 5 Facts from “Lessons From Geese”.  In my next blog I will explain the other lessons and how to work them into a shorter activity.  Part 2 coming soon…

FYI – you can find “Lessons from Geese” all over the Internet.  You can order posters, notecards, etc.