The Tortoise and the Hare


  1. Remind children of the two-fold importance of ‘the exercise’, that is, for the psychological harmonisation (calming effects) of the body, and for learning to ‘be in the present’. The latter helps develop meta-cognition (knowledge and insight into one’s own thinking) which naturally follows when one is Practise the exercise together.
  1. Remind pupils of the importance of reflecting on each week’s dialogue and keeping in mind the ‘Thought for the Week’. Important insights and evidence can become apparent at any
  1. Read the story ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’.
  1. The pairs’ work is to examine the meaning of the story through language. This will be a major emphasis for this term. The importance of speaking and listening, in the learning process, should be emphasised to children. The first person should tell the second person what they think the story is saying – its This can include both literal and ‘inner’ meaning (that is related to theme or philosophical point). When this has finished, the second person evaluates what has been said, and gives their own opinion. For example, ‘I agree with you about . . . but I disagree that . . . I think . . .’ This process should be fully understood by children before they begin.
  1. Take two or three examples from pupils, then bridge from an appropriate idea to using the ‘Questions for Thinking’ for the
  1. Ensure children understand the ‘Thought for the Week’.

The Tortoise and the Hare 

This well known fable shows that having patience with something means giving a measured and focused response, and is not to do with seeking a solution through an erratic, irrational expenditure of energy.

Hare was always making fun of Tortoise.

‘You’re so slow,’ he would say. ‘Can’t you move faster than that? Look how fast I can run.’ And he would leap away over the fields in a flurry of grey fur.

Sometimes Hare laughed at Tortoise’s shell.

‘It’s silly carrying your house on your back. Why not leave it at home?’ Then he would roar with laughter at his joke.

Tortoise said nothing. One thing tortoises have is patience and he knew that one day he would show Hare that patience and determination were more important than just speed.

One morning Hare was being particularly annoying and Tortoise’s patience ran out. Just for a moment though, just long enough for him to say, ‘I bet I can beat you in a race to the farmhouse.’

Hare fell about laughing. ‘Done!’ he said. ‘I’ll give you half an hour’s start, or even half a day.’ He chuckled again.

All the animals gathered round to watch and Horse drew a line in the dirt with his hoof

‘Ready, steady, go! ’ shouted Horse.Off they went, Hare leaping and bounding, Tortoise just plodding.

Hare came to some juicy dandelions and stopped for a nibble. He had plenty of time.

Tortoise plodded on. He didn’t try to rush.

Hare met some of his friends in the field and stopped to play. He wasn’t worried. No tortoise could ever beat him.

Tortoise plodded on. He had waited a long time to teach Hare a lesson.

When the sun grew hot Hare sat down under the big oak tree for a while and nodded off to sleep.

Tortoise plodded on. Past Hare he went. He didn’t stop for a rest. He didn’t stop for food. He was going to win this race.

Hare woke up. He didn’t know that Tortoise had passed him. Now he was too hot to run so he just ambled along confidently.

Tortoise plodded on. He wasn’t hot. His shell shaded his body. Now he could see the barn. Was he going to win, or would Hare come leaping past at the last minute? Tortoise didn’t stop to look round. He would get there.

It was only as Tortoise plodded the last few steps towards the barn, that Hare spotted him, a small moving dot in the distance ahead. He sprang forward, but it was too late.

Tortoise had been determined and nothing had distracted him along the way. He had won the race and at last silenced Hare’s teasing forever. It had been worth waiting for this moment.


1.    Tortoise’s patience stopped for a moment and he challenged Hare to a race. Have you ever had an occasion when you were being patient, then (as is sometimes said) your patience ran out?

2.    Can anyone say why their patience stopped?  What made you change?

3.    Can patience actually ‘run out’?  What actually happens?

4.    Can you describe the differences in how the Hare and the Tortoise each approached the race?  Think about their attitudes.

5.    What sort of attitude would you say is connected with patience?

6.    Where does patience come from?

7.    Can you get more patience or does it stay the same?

8.    Why do some people seem to have more patience than others? How are they different?

9.    What is patience?

10.    What do people mean when they say, ‘Patience is a virtue?’

11.    Is patience always good (a virtue)?