clancy the courageous cow

January 27, 2011

books for kids

Hume, L. (2006). Clancy the courageous cow. Sydney: Scholastic.

This book was written and illustrated by a 12 year-old Australian lad. His teacher gave him 9 out of 10 for the project. Clancy possibly should have been called a bull, but it would have messed with the alliteration.

This book deals with difference, discrimination, poverty, the cycle of disadvantage, conflict, negotiation, reconciliation, as a cow and a bull from opposite herds fall in love. It’s absolutely wonderful.

The playgroup kids were very interested to hear the story of the author Lachie Hume, and enjoyed the story. I particularly told the children about Lachie as not only did he do a fantastic job with this storybook, but he went on to study agricultural science at university. Being in a disadvantaged area, community expectation of the children can be horrendously low. One day, when I was teaching Second Step in a year 3/4/5 class, I said to the students “when you all go to university …”. The students laughed at me, a parent in the classroom laughed at me, and the teacher laughed at me. I always communicate to the children I work with that they have the potential to succeed.

Although I haven’t read this book to my own kids for ages, my middle son referred to it the other night when we were talking about individual difference. He is very different to his brothers, and he said with a smile “I’m like Clancy”.

With charming illustrations and simple text this book is a great read aloud and a heart-warming story which communicates hope.

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About hakea

groupworker, parent educator, therapist, mother of three boys.

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5 Comments on “clancy the courageous cow”

  1. kaet Says:

    One of the things I’m glad about with the secondary school I went to is that it was a real comprehensive, with people across the range of expectation academically. In the last two years our career guidance teacher’s constant refrain was that every single person needed to do some kind of third level education, whether it be a degree, a vocational programme of whatever length, or something else. Her point was that getting a job would demand it, but I took out of it the point that (formal) education shouldn’t stop as soon as it’s no longer compulsory.


    • hakea Says:

      the thing that bothers me is that the children aren’t hearing that anything is possible. i constantly hear the kids say “we can’t do that”. there is no sense of hope, or any expectation that the children can or will do well. there’s an overriding sense of hopelessness and helplessness. and it’s not for lack of ability, the children shine when given the opportunity.

      it has started to change. towards the end of last year, the school started talking to students about how important an education is for their future. 70% of the kids in year 5 at the school are below the national average in literacy and numeracy. this year they are going to have Saturday morning school, like they do in disadvantaged schools in North America.


  2. kloppenmum Says:

    That low expectation astounded me too. I worked in London in some tough schools but, when I was permanent in one school, I had the Maths extension class…every day before they left the class they had to choose a career from a long list and tell me how they were going to make it happen for them. Over the course of a few months their confidence soared…they could actually glimpse the possibility of a life of success. It was hugely important to me to do that for them, as my Dad grew up poor…


    • hakea Says:

      Have you encountered these low expectations in the schools where you have taught?

      I had a converstaion with one of the more enlightened teachers about the same. He agreed that they had low expectations because it had become a culture that no-one had challenged. I asked him whether he teaches the children how to learn, he paused, and said that he doesn’t. Subsequently, he started a “dare to dream” art project at the school and also started teaching the students a system with the acronym IDEA – I think it stood for Ideas, Design, Evaluate, Action.


  3. kloppenmum Says:

    I’ve taught all over the place, from wealthy areas to those which are very poor…and I can say for sure that one of the key differences in achievement is teacher expectation. If you expect the children to achieve, created attachment (did that automatically, long before I had done any reading about it), and firm boundaries – then worry about the teaching programmes. Bingo, children suddenly wanting to come to school and do well. It is harder in classrooms where there are multiple problems, but with the right support, it can be done


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