Be a Table Knife


Ever hear a student complain that they’ll never use the algebra they’re struggling through? Or that diagrams in language arts have nothing to do with real life? The next time you hear statements like those, tell your students to be like a table knife.

A table knife? Yes. Consider its many purposes. You can use a table knife to cut meat, open packages, clean cracks, and eat peas (if a little honey is applied). It does a pretty decent job as makeshift screwdriver for Dad and makes a handy playdough-sculpting tool and sandbox shovel for the little ones.

A butter knife, on the other hand, is intended only to spread butter on bread, while the sole purpose of a master butter knife is to lift a pat of butter from the central butter dish and place it on the diner’s plate—no spreading allowed.

What limited lives the butter knife and master butter knife have in comparison to the hardy and multipurpose table knife! As people who want to make a difference in our world, we should gain knowledge and skill in many different areas.

Though you may not know a lot about a subject, if you know a little, there will almost certainly come a time when the little you know will be greater than what anyone else in your group knows. At times like these, your little knowledge will be invaluable for the success of the group’s effort as well as for your own personal success. As Erasmus said, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

I am indebted to Dr. Michael Miller for sharing this object lesson in a recent inspirational talk at Sattler College. Your students, like me, may benefit from it.

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