There is a apocryphal tale, attributed often to Abraham Lincoln, though it almost certainly predates America itself, about the value of ‘sharpening your axe‘. The simple moral of the tale is that we need to spend more time sharpening our figurative axes – that is to say thinking, planning and preparing, before we undertake our intended action.
Lincoln himself honed the tale into a handy aphorism (well, he might said this) to simplify things further:
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Like all good aphorisms, it strikes at our instinctive sense of truth. I’m no experienced axeman (in fact, it is best you put no sharp objects in my near vicinity for fear of clumsy accidents), but the aphorism cuts to the heart of my instinctive notions of best practice as a teacher.
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