I first heard David Senra retell this story on the Founders Podcast. It was a favorite story of Charlie Munger and a good one to share with kids. David shared a screenshot of the story here. I rewrote a version that might be helpful for the classroom.
The Teacher and the Sheep Story
In a rural school in Texas, a teacher asked the question, “If there are nine sheep in a pen and one jumps out, how many are left?”
“Eight!” the class responded.
But one little boy raised his hand and said, “None of them are left.”
The teacher laughed. “You don’t understand arithmetic.”
The little boy said, “No, teacher. You don’t understand sheep.”
The Meaning of the Story
Sheep follow sheep. If one jumps out of the pen, they all follow.
Here are a couple of lessons we can gather from this little funny story:
- Think outside the box. The boy had the courage to think creatively about the question. Instead of thinking one-dimensionally about the math, he analyzed every part of the story before giving his answer. He did not act like a sheep.
- Think before you follow. Sheep follow other sheep without thinking. Don’t give into peer pressure like the sheep. Think before you follow someone else’s poor decision.
Questions about the Story
- What are some examples of kids your age giving in to peer pressure?
- What are some problems in the larger world that are caused by people acting like sheep?
- In what ways do your teachers encourage you to think creatively outside of the box?