The weekly column
Article 89, February 2002
The Cracked Pot
By Michael Berman
Level: Intermediate - Upper Intermediate
Target Audience: Adults
Language / Skills Focus: Listening & Speaking
Materials: Photocopies of the worksheet. Photocopies of the story (optional) to hand out at the end of the session. A drawing on the board or an OHT of a cup that's half-full or half-empty.
1. Pre-listening: What do you see when you look at the drawing - a cup that's half full or a cup that's half empty? And what does this say about the kind of person you are? Now listen to the story.
2. While-listening: Pause after the line 'As we return to the Master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path' and ask the learners why the water carrier said this to the pot. They can then listen to the rest of the story to see whether their answers were correct or not.
3. Post-listening: Now that you've listened to the story, look at the drawing of the cup again. What do you see this time? Do you see a cup that's half full or a cup that's half-empty? Has your answer changed? And if it has, why do you think it has?
4. Post-listening: Match the numbers on the left with the letters on the right to find explanations for the new vocabulary. ANSWERS: 1-f 2-h 3-g 4-a 5-e 6-p 7-o 8-l 9-i 10-d 11-c 12-m 13-n 14-q 15-j 16-k 17-b
5. Fill in the gaps with words from the story. ANSWERS: 1 criticise 2 proud 3 apologise 4 gather 5 compassion 6 ashamed 7 remind 8 accomplish
All of us feel like cracked pots at some time in our lives. Perhaps we suffer from depression, or have a physical challenge that limits our activity. Maybe we have suffered losses, or are unable to work full time as we think we should. But perhaps we need to honour the light that has come to us as a result of those things that we or others judge as flaws. Dr. Carl Jung suggested something to the effect that, it is not how we overcome our life challenges that is in the end important, but how we live with them and perhaps that is what this folk tale from India is all about.
THE CRACKED POT
Once upon a time there was a man whose job was to bring water from the stream to his Master's house. The man carried the water from the stream in two clay pots. He hung the pots on each end of a pole, which he carried across his shoulders, to and from the stream many times a day.
One of the clay pots was perfect in every way for its purpose. The other pot was exactly like the first one, but it had a crack in it and it leaked. When the water bearer reached his Master's house, the perfect pot was always full, and the cracked pot was always half full.
The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, and it boasted loudly. It criticized the cracked pot for its failures, and reminded it that despite his efforts, the water bearer could only deliver half a pot of water due to his cracks. The poor cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfections, and was miserable that it could only accomplish half of what it was supposed to do.
One day the cracked pot spoke to the water bearer. "I want to apologize to you. Because of my cracked side I've only been able to deliver half of the water to your Master's home, and you don't get the full value from your efforts."
The water bearer smiled on the cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the Master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."
Indeed as they climbed the path from the river to the Master's mansion the cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful flowers along one side of the path, and it felt somewhat brighter. But when they reached their destination and the water in the half-empty pot was poured out, his sadness returned. "Thank you for trying to cheer me up with the beautiful flowers, water bearer," The pot spoke. " But I still must apologize for my failure."
The water bearer said, "Dear pot, you haven't understood what I was trying to show you. Did you notice that the flowers only grew on your side of the path? That's because of your crack. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and everyday as we walked from the stream the water that leaks from your pot has watered them. I could have got a new pot, but I preferred to gather the flowers, and with them to bless many tables."
WORKSHEET: THE CRACKED POT
Match the numbers on the left with the letters on the right to find explanations for the new vocabulary:
Fill in the gaps with words from the story:
1. Why do you always _____ me for what I've done? I could do with some encouragement for a change!
2. I hear that your daughter has been awarded a scholarship. You must be very _____ of her.
3. Even if you _____ I can't forgive you because what you did was totally unacceptable.
4. I _____ your husband hasn't been feeling very well recently. I hope it's nothing serious.
5. Why do you have to be so hard-hearted? It wouldn't hurt you to show some _____ for a change.
6. How could he steal money from his own mother? He should be _____ of himself.
7. When you look at me like that you _____ me of my father.
8. I'm feeling a bit disappointed because I haven't been able to _____ as much as I had hoped.
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