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Virginia Journal of Education

A Parable for Our Times

by Virginia Neil

A fellow named Timothy Wanton McSnurgle
Invented a gadget to help fellow Wurgles
It kept them upright on their slippery hills
'Cause their world was tipped sideways so they took lots of spills
The gadget had gears, and three legs in all
It leveled their gait and it helped them stand tall
And McSnurgle's workers took pride in their skills
At helping the Wurgles stop wobbling on hills.

Each handmade gadget was perfect and fit
The needs of each Wurgle who chose to wear it.
The fat, roly polies got extra wide belts
And the cold-natured Wurgles got gadgets with felt.
The ones who were messy got gadgets with rakes
While the ones who were speedy got gadgets with brakes.
The Wurgles with short legs got gadgets with stilts
The Wurgles who leaned got a gadget that tilts
They didn't all move in quite the same way,
But they moved about freely and had fun at their play.

Until one day
Mayor Morthum McSnob
Said, "These gadgets aren't right; they don't quite do the job."
He said, "We Wurgles must win every race,
We cannot be happy with fourth or third place.
We must find a way to make Wurgles the same
They must all be winners, we must win the game.
So, stop making gadgets, I know just the thing
We'll make us a Wurgle TurnoutSame Machine.
We Wurgles will enter, the thin and the wide
We'll be pressed in boxes that tilt to the side.
Then all of us Wurgles can set a fast pace
We'll snatch every prize, we'll win every race."

So, the Wurgles stopped wearing McSnurgle's machines
And walked into factories, they gave up their dreams.
And into the same tilted stance they were pressed
They lean forty nine and one half degrees west.
And as long as the Wurgles are walking due East
They walk quite upright; they don't tilt in the least.
Which is fine when they're running an east-facing race
But not right at all in a north-leaning place.

Now the Wurgles all look exactly the same.
And they win every race in the East-facing games.
But they never walk north and they never walk west
They always walk east 'cause they balance the best.
When they face to the sun and all walk one way
But they don't move about freely, or have fun in their play.

And McSnurgle's workers? The ones who took pride,
In gadgets they'd made to fit each Wurgle's stride?
Left the steep slopes behind and opened a store
Full of gadgets for Limbos, who needed them more.
In a land where the goal was to find the best fit
For each Limbo was different and took pride in it.
And their skill for building to fit all their needs
Was considered a good thing, and valued indeed.

Neil, a member of the Highland County Education Association and a middle school language arts and science teacher, was the 2006 winner of the VEA's Award for Teaching Excellence.



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