Monday, March 15, 2021

Henny Penny Discovers Learning Loss

It was a difficult year in the barnyard with all the animals confined to their own homes because of a mysterious and devastating avian flu. Henny Penny, cooped up in her humble abode with a half dozen chicks scurrying about unable to go to school, was at her wits' end. She barricaded herself in the TV room and turned on Foxy News. There she heard a report from an education expert, one Chester Tester, that the entire barnyard was going down the tubes due to an outbreak of  "learning loss."

Henny Penny flew into a panic. She flung open the door calling to the chicks, "You are losing learning. You are losing learning. Hurry we must find it." Henny Penny and her chicks scurried around the chicken house looking for their learning. The looked under the beds of straw. They looked in the kitchen. They searched the family room. They even rifled through the medicine cabinet, but they could not find their learning. 

Finally, Henny Penny FaceTimed her friend, Ducky Lucky. "Ducky Lucky," said Henny Penny, "I just heard on Foxy News that my chicks are losing their learning."

"Oh, no!" said Ducky Lucky. "If your chicks are losing their learning, mine must be, too. Our friend Goosey Loosey is here, let's see what she thinks."

Goosey Loosey came onto the FaceTime call. Henny Penny said, "The chicks are losing their learning! The chicks are losing their learning!"

Goosey Loosey said, "You know, I haven't seen my chicks carrying their learning around in weeks. I think they must have lost their learning, too. It's a community problem. We need a Zoom meeting with all the animals in the barnyard."

Goosey Loosey, who was the best organized of the three, sent out a Zoom invitation to Turkey Lurkey, Drakey Lakey, Goosey Gander, and Foxy Woxy. At first the Zoom meeting was a disaster with each of the animals clucking at the same time and Goosey Gander having microphone issues, but finally Henny Penny shouted over the din, "Our children are losing their learning! Our children are losing their learning! What can we do?"

Everybody started clucking and cackling again until Foxy Loxy intoned in a deep clear voice, "I can help you."

"What can you do?" the concerned parents all asked at once.

"Well, first we need to measure the learning that has been lost," said Foxy Loxy. 

"How do you do that?" they asked.

"Oh, with a great big standardized learning loss test," said the sly fox. "I have one ready to go."

"But what if the test shows they have learning loss?" asked Turkey Lurkey.

"Oh, well then, my den of learned foxes will offer the chicks intensified tutoring and summer school. It really works wonders," enthused the fox.

"That sounds pretty expensive," said Goosey Gander who was always worried about money.

"Oh, no!" said Foxy Loxy slyly, "all you need to do is let my group of foxes into the hen house."

Foxy Loxy smiled and licked his lips. The group of concerned parents murmured to each other in concern for their chicks. They were about to agree, when Drakey Lakey spoke up.

"Wait a minute. Are we sure our children have lost their learning? I know a year away from the schoolhouse is concerning. And I know the online learning is not as good as beak to beak learning, but just what are we worried about here. Our children are learning lots of things. They have learned how to make the best of a bad situation. They have learned how we all need to pitch in to help each other. They have learned to wear masks in public. They have learned a lot about communicable diseases. They may have different learning this year, but is that the same as losing learning?  Before we let the foxes into the hen house, we better be sure there is a big problem."

The Zoom meeting went silent. Goosey Loosey shut down Foxy Loxy's Zoom feed. She said, "You know maybe we have bigger things to worry about than learning loss. I am going to go read my chicks a book."

For some serious reading about the silliness of learning loss check out Peter Greene's collection of the best pieces on the topic here.


  1. Love this piece, Russ. I will be sharing.

  2. Russ, this is a charming parable. I'd like to do my part in helping this terrific story and message be widely shared.

  3. This. I love this. Thank you for writing it! I will share it.