Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Teaching a Pig to Sing

The pigs got out of their pen on Sunday. Like everything, it is our own fault but then again, it isn't a big deal. They oink and grunt around a bit looking for me-with-a-bucket which is what they know as the source of all food.

As a kid I remember reading the ranking of how smart animals were. I was a horse person and somehow "they" (whoever decides these all important things) had decided pigs were smarter than horses. I have no idea what other animals were ranked or where but horses were below pigs, that I remember.

I am no pig expert. In fact, Ham and Bacon are the first pigs I've known on a first name basis. But I have some thoughts about the smartness of pigs. Pigs are pork machines. What I mean by that is they live to eat and other than eating they sleep, conserving energy until the next meal. Their whole raison d'etra seems to be about gaining weight on the smallest amount of input. I think they could be real smart doing anything that leads to more food for less effort. If they got the idea you were food, they'd eat you too. And they are impervious -- you could hit them with a 2X4 and they wouldn't even blink; they'd just keep looking for food. But they aren't malicious. They are just in their own piggy-world.

Horses I have always known, have a real connection with. Horses are sometimes not so smart because they will get their emotions involved. If they trust you, they will try to do things they don't really believe they can do. They can be heroic. They can be mean. Their relationship to the world is complex, multi-dimensional.

My guess is that the "they" who decided pigs were smarter than horses ran those animals through some sort of rat maze as the test of "smartness". Pigs would be very motivated by a rat maze type situation. A horse might well not be motivated, might even be disdainful of such an exercise.

Which reminded me of kids and schooling and testing. Some kids care about testing, are motivated, want to do well. Some just don't care. Testing is just a rat maze sort of thing with no relationship to the real world whatsoever. If one does well on tests (and I was one who always did), what does that mean? That one does well on tests and that is all. Same with schooling -- it is just so irrelevant outside it's very narrow schooly-world. It is a one-dimensional thing. Life is a multi-dimentional thing.

If I were a different animal, I'd rather be a horse than a pig. I'd rather be friends with a horse than a pig. But far more I am glad my kids have never even thought to ask which animal is smarter -- it couldn't be a question because the whole idea is nonsense. But knowing my girls, they might well try to teach those pigs to sing, or even more likely, they would sing beautiful harmony along with the pigs' own pig songs.

1 comment:

nameless to protect the innocent said...

I really enjoyed this glimpse into a life so different from mine...

thanks for the entertaining read...