An Analysis of Moral in Who Moved My Cheese
Who Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson, M. D. A Review and Essay By David Cox, Instructional Technology Facilitator Tioga Junior High School and Tioga High School At a time when Rapides Parish schools are once again facing huge financial deficits with resultant changes at almost every level, teachers must deal with mostly unwanted changes. Being a twenty-six year classroom veteran, I have had to change as well in many ways. In my internal search for ways to deal with change, I have recently read a book which has given me some new ways to think about change.
I hope that this review might lead you to this book and help you to see how changes, even when first seen as negative and hurtful, are not necessarily a bad thing. Dr. Spencer Johnson has written a book which gives me some real ways to think about and deal with change. This small book, Who Moved My Cheese, is a fast and easy read but one which can enlighten even a cynical person to some ways to adapt to the inevitable changes of life in its many shifting forms and challenges. Like Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, the story is told as a story within a story of several old friends at a high school reunion told by one of the friends.
The story centers around four characters who live in a Maze and the changes with which they must wrangle. The characters are two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two so-called Littlepeople (creatures the size of mice but who look and act like people today) named Hem and Haw. The plot is pretty simple. The four characters find a large cache of cheese and can live their lives without much variation: get up, go to the cheese, eat, go home, and start over the next day. This works out okay until one day the cheese is gone. Then the characters must deal with the new situation.
The mice, taken aback at first, are first to take action since they are creatures of almost entirely instinct: they set out looking for more cheese. On the other hand, Hem and Haw, creatures of reason and emotion, go through a series of reactions from shock to anger to knee-jerking and then to divergence. Hem stays at the now empty cheese station, sulking, complaining, thinking negatively and making even himself more miserable while Haw overcomes his fears and sets out to find new cheese. Filled with metaphor as direct as John Bunyan’s book Pilgrim’s Progress, this book then shows Haw rethinking, adjusting, and moving on with his life.
He sets out to find his “New Cheese,” overcoming his fears and his sense of having been cheated. Along his journey, Haw writes messages of his inner discoveries on the Maze wall, hoping Hem will follow and read the “writing on the wall” and be comforted by Haw’s inner revelations. His revelations are never dramatic but always true and appropriate for his situation—and ours by extension. The outcome of the book for Haw is doubtful due to Haw’s many fears and doubts about himself on his journey. But by the end, the reader sees Haw succeed in ways that surprise both Haw and the reader.
But what about Hem? Does he too succeed? That is where the story-within-a-story ends. And this is where this plot analysis ends. Who Moved My Cheese? begins with an introduction, sets up the story-within-a-story, tells the story of the Mice and LittleMen, and then ends with an analysis of parts of the story by the fictional high school reunion friends who tell parts of their life stories to one another since their graduation. Now, as in Chaucer’s day, this is effective although some critics and some readers want to fend for themselves intellectually—and that’s okay.
Now, the reader of this article may ask, what does this have to do with Rapides Parish, teachers, and our mutual situations, and why is this review in a technology newsletter? Simply put, we are all constantly in a stew of change, having to deal with umpteen million rapid-fire often confusing and disheartening failures in the classroom. Technology may be used to enhance a teacher’s already good lessons just as the ideas in Who Moved My Cheese? can make dealing with changes in our lives a little easier with more direction. The story depicts the Littlepeople attacking the same problem with the same tools and failing each time.
However, with just a little divergent thinking, Haw is able to break through from his old methods into new techniques and achieve his ultimate goal. Each teacher can find his or her own “New Cheese” in the classroom using technology tools in the same way and more fully reach the ultimate goal of educating young people. Students grow, have fun and learn at the same time, and meet challenges in ways that please and surprise them as well as their teachers, all the while successfully achieving benchmarks like Haw succeeds at finding his New Cheese. In conclusion, Rapides Parish schools are in for some changes; it is true.
But with the use of technology to assist us, we can still accomplish our one unchanging goal. Technology instructors and facilitators can guide us through all of the myriad twists and turns of software and hardware, giving us methods, information, advice, and even pre-written lessons which use technology in every subject area and at every grade level. The school district Web site at http://www. rapides. k12. la. us/region6tltc/tltc. htm shows a lot of what can be easily obtained by every teacher who wants to successfully adjust to the changes coming, and then both teachers and students can benefit.