by Rita V. Featherstone-Brown

The Blind Men and the Elephant

by John Godfrey Saxe
American poet John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887) based the following poem on a fable which was told in India many years ago. It's an example of how limited sensory perceptions can lead to misinterpretations.
I recall hearing references to this poem many years ago, but since I had not read it for myself, I couldn't appreciate its significance. Now, you too will be able to grasp the symbolism of the "six blind men and the elephant".

It was six men of Indostan To learning much inclined, Who went to see the Elephant (Though all of them were blind), That each by observation Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant, And happening to fall Against his broad and sturdy side, At once began to bawl: "God bless me! but the Elephant Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk, Cried, "Ho! what have we here So very round and smooth and sharp? To me 'tis mighty clear This wonder of an Elephant Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal, And happening to take The squirming trunk within his hands, Thus boldly up and spake: "I see," quoth he, "the Elephant Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out an eager hand, And felt about the knee. "What most this wondrous beast is like Is mighty plain," quoth he; " 'Tis clear enough the Elephant Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, Said:"E'en the blindest man Can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can This marvel of an Elephant Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun About the beast to grope, Than, seizing on the swinging tail That fell within his scope, "I see," quoth he, "the Elephant Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan Disputed loud and long, Each in his own opinion Exceeding stiff and strong, Though each was partly in the right, And all were in the wrong!


So oft in theologic wars, The disputants, I ween, Rail on in utter ignorance Of what each other mean, And prate about an Elephant Not one of them has seen!

We rely on the use our senses to interpret the world in which we are in. To introduce your students in the classroom to their senses try thisactivity This activity can be adapted for all ages. Kids just love popcorn.

If you want to focus in on one area of the five senses, let's look at the sense of TOUCH .

Our sense of touch shows us the shape, size, and the feel of the world.

We are kept safe by learning to avoid touching a burner or a flame, a sharp edge or point, etc.
Our feelings are HAPPY when we stroke a dog, when we get a hug...
Our feelings are SAD when we run into something hard, cut our finger...

Let"s examine what our skin looks like.

Did you know that?

You have more pain nerve endings than any other type.
The least sensitive part of your body is the middle of your back.
The most sensitive areas of your body are your hands, lips, face, neck, tongue, fingertips and feet.
Shivering is a way your body has of trying to get warmer.
There are about 100 touch receptors in each of your fingertips.
Rattlesnakes use their skin to feel the body heat of other animals
Click here for more TOUCH activities.

Have you ever looked at your fingers and seen those rings? Have you ever wondered what use are they? Did you know that there are 7 distinguish patterns on our fingers? Check out this site.

Click here to examine these patterns.

Let your students examine their own distinguish patterns.

Click here for an activity that your students can do in the classroom.

If you want to do a follow-up with the students here is a short quiz that they can do.Just click here.

With the use of technology in the next millenium who knows where our senses will be?

Video of Hand

Image sources:
Come to Your Senses
The Skin or ("Hey! Your Epidermis Is Showing!"
Grasping Hand and Soda