The last hatch of goslings has a poor flier – a young goose that can’t gain altitude like his siblings. The parents have the “No Child Left Behind” attitude, as they work on flight patterns within his limitations. I suppose I shouldn’t gender the young goose – though the pronouns won’t make any difference. What does make a difference is the ability to fly long distances, 3,000 feet above the ground – that is the essential ability of a Canada goose.
We’ve had one goose left behind when winter came. There was the final visit as the parents and siblings stopped for one more chance that she might be able to fly out of the field. With the help we could give her, she almost made it to Spring – but a gold eagle caught her alone on the ground as the snow was melting.
The parents can’t make the quantum shift in perspective – the wild goose must fly, and they keep attempting to teach flight to a young goose that can almost make it. Perhaps it’s a joint, or a feather pattern – I don’t know. I’m hoping that feathers will grow in, and one day the young goose will rise higher than the ground effect allows him, to fly and be free. The parents can’t realize that there would be some sort of life for a non-flying goose as a domestic goose, and they can’t think of a way to prepare that goose for such a different life. For some reason that choice isn’t available – yet the extended family of lesser Canada geese lives in extremely close proximity to people.
I watch, and I hope for the breakthrough that will allow the young goose a mainstream life of long distance flight, instead of survival, alone, until a predator gets a perfect opportunity.
And my thoughts go from the pond to the elementary school. We have built a tremendous support structure into laws regarding special education . . . and I suppose the thing I want most for our students with special needs is the opportunity to live a mainstream life – basically the same thing that is more readily reached by the students in the middle of the bell curve.
With geese, I’m estimating that one in fifty can’t handle the challenges of flight that permit a mainstream life. As they go through life, other injuries can lead to still other disabilities that limit life. But among humans, the limits are more diverse. I’ve read that the Army effectively cuts out folks with an IQ below 83 – and the “normal” range is 85 to 115. The difference between 83 and 85 is the couple of feathers, or a slightly better functioning joint to the goose.
In the community colleges, I fought against telling the poorer students that “You’ll just have to work harder, study harder.” They know that . . . and they also know that the student at the top doesn’t have to study harder to stay at the top. Each goose that couldn’t fly worked harder to fail than their siblings did to succeed.