Friday, November 03, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Maps and Compasses

The Thing About Maps
words by Seth Godinpoemizing by Mary Lee Hahn

Sometimes, when we're lost, 
we refuse a map, 
even when offered.

Because the map reminds us that we made a mistake. 
That we were wrong.

But without a map, 
we're not just wrong, 
we're also still lost.

A map doesn't automatically get you home, 
but it will probably make you less lost.

When dealing with the unknown, 
it's difficult to admit that there might not be a map. 
In those cases, 
a compass is essential, 
a way to remind yourself of your 
true north.

by Hugh MacLeod

I love it when the Universe chats with me.

We began our geography work in social studies recently. When this bit by Seth Godin showed up in my inbox, I knew I wanted to share it with my students. The fun thing (ONE of the fun things) about 5th graders is that they are beginning to be able to think abstractly and symbolically. Lots of them got the symbolism and message in The Thing About Maps. Then, a day later, the Gaping Void cartoon landed in my inbox. I have a couple of strong girls who are negotiating the tricky line between bossy and assertive. The cartoon was a good reminder of the qualities of a positive leader. We talked about our personal compasses, our very own "true north"s. 

Hopefully, you will find your way to TeacherDance, where Linda has the Poetry Friday roundup for today!


  1. This is so wise. It can feel so uncomfortable when there's no map to follow.

  2. Anonymous10:20 AM

    I too posted about maps today! A Map of the World by Ted Kooser:

  3. Love this post, Mary Lee! Thanks for the guiding poem and the compass rose.

  4. Wise words about maps of all kinds - I can't wait to share this with my sixth graders, Mary Lee.

  5. Wonderful post. Love your mention of true north at the end of the poem, the nod to intuition and self sufficiency.

  6. But without a map,
    we're not just wrong,
    we're also still lost.

    Ah, fifth and sixth is that time when one sees classroom leaders rise... and sometimes they stomp on a few heads whilst getting up. How good of you to talk about the process of becoming, and to remind the ladies that they can speak firmly and never need that big stick.

    Because they don't know to yet, I thank you for giving them maps, cousin.

  7. Anonymous3:46 PM

    This is wonderful I am sharing with my former principal who often talked about true north.

  8. I saw this and love that you've shared & discussed it with your students. It is wise and you are, too, Mary Lee. I do not fear wandering, yet sometimes it helps o have a map.

  9. Anonymous6:16 AM

    Gorgeous, gorgeous post, Mary Lee. I can't begin to explain how much I needed to read this after the past week. Thank you.

  10. What great serendipities! I love the way you poemified Seth Godin. It works very well!

  11. 1. I love the poem. 2. I think I want to pin that cartoon above my desk. It's how to lead, teach, parent, love, isn't it?

  12. Such wise words--I'm so glad you could share them with your students, and that they could begin to grasp it. Some days it feels like I'm still trying to grasp such important truths.

  13. This poem pairs perfectly with this week's post from Little Willow with Ted Kooser's poem: A Map of the World.
    I'm an old Social Studies Teacher....can't help but love maps and the infinite ways of getting lost and found in them and with them. This post is a keeper! Thank you.

  14. "A map doesn't automatically get you home,
    but it will probably make you less lost."

    Oh, how I love this. Sometimes just having some kind of direction, a plan, a hint of an idea of where we're going can make all the difference.

  15. I liked his post but I LOVE your poem. Hurray for synchronous messages from the Universe!

  16. I guess I'm weird, but I've always loved maps. I love to learn shortcuts. I love to see how the borders wind, half way across the world. I like your poem and post. :-)

  17. Let us make "THE COMPASS OF LEADERSHIP" become our "true north," actual and metaphorical! Wonderful post Mary Lee, thanks!


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