A story about perseverance, team work and a banana

Christmas time means the return of the world famous Banana Game.

The Banana game features in my version of “A Christmas Carol“.  For those of you unfamiliar with the game its all innocent silliness: players compete in pairs with the aim being to consume a banana as quickly as possible.  The only rules are that the person eating the banana cannot see or touch the banana and that the feeder must stay behind their partner during the game (in essence they become their partner’s hands).  A variation of the game would be to blindfold the feeders but when the players are 5 up the game is already pretty crazy.

On this particular occasion as the audience was made up of a single class, the contest pitted two boys against two girls in a junior school battle of the sexes.  Everything had gone as normal in the build up.  As the task had been explained, the players had giggled and the audience booed and cheered to show their support.

“Ready?  3, 2, 1 Go”.

So the game begins.  On one side of the room the girls locate their banana, remove the peel and begin to eat it, taking a steady, early lead.  On the other side of the room are the boys.  Their feeder is complaining that he can’t peel a banana (he is at least seven years old so this is a little surprising).  He stands waving the fruit in the air unable (or unwilling) to comprehend how he might begin to peel the banana declaring that “he can’t do it”.

The eating player on the girl’s team munches on, her tiny cheeks filled with chunks of undigested banana whilst her partner waits to feed her more.  On the boy’s side of the room “I can’t” has become “I won’t even try”.  Somehow the banana has been partially peeled but the boy has fed his partner the banana peel!

The female eater is a dot of a child.  The banana is clearly more than she can possibly eat but she is focussed and continues doggedly even when told that her team is winning by a country mile, without any complaint.  Frustrated by his partner’s tantrum, the male eater is trying to cheat, using his hands and biting at large chunks of banana.  The crowd let the girls know this and they pick up the pace.  The dot of a child is choking back banana for the sake of the game, for the sake of her team mate and for the audience.  The game is stopped when she can take no more.  The girls are victorious in every sense of the word.

Reading this back it seems a strange story to tell.  The reason I have decided to share this story is because in this silliest of games the girls demonstrated admirable perseverance and a great team ethic.  It was a refreshing reminder of why I love my work and what learning should be about.  I am in no doubt that with these qualities my winners will go far in this world.

My question is this: which team would you have liked to have been playing for and how would you reacted when faced with the challenge of working in a team?

Remember: Determination is not just for Christmas.

NB: No children were significantly harmed in the name of entertainment.  The little girl, although slightly stunned by her experience, was laughing and enjoying herself within moments of the game ending.