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Lesson Plan #: AELP-LST0001
Author: Ann Douglas, Pauls Valley, OK Date: 1994

Grade Level(s): 9, 10, 11, 12


  • Language Arts/Listening Comprehension

OVERVIEW: Many students sit in classrooms and hear but are not listening to what is being said around them. This is a skill that needs to be taught and addressed at all levels of education.


The purpose of this activity is to increase the students’ ability to listen and to understand what is being read and/or told to them.


  • After listening to the story, students will be able to orally explain the conclusion of the story.
  • Students will be able to list three ways that the tigers in the story relate to themselves.
  • Students will be able to clarify why they would rather someone read to them or why they would rather read the material themselves.
  • This activity can be used as a guidance activity. The emphasis is for students to think about what they are hearing and to be able to respond to the story. This activity can be used for several grade levels but it seems to work best with freshmen and sophomores.


    The Indispensable Tiger was taken from the American Management Association


    1. Read the story, The Indispensable Tiger.

    A powerful old tiger, the leader of the pack, was preparing to go on a hunt. Gathering the other tigers about him, he said, We must go out in the plains and hunt, for the winter is coming. You young fellows come with me; perhaps you will learn a thing or two.

    The young tigers were pleased to hear this, for the old fellow had hitherto shown no interest in tiger development. He usually left them behind when he went hunting and they were tired of doing nothing but keeping order among the cubs and performing other routine tasks.

    The first day out, the old tiger spotted a herd of elephants. Here’s your chance, Bernard, he said to one of the younger tigers. Look at it as a challenge. But Bernard had no idea how to go about hunting. With a roar he rushed at the elephants who just ran off in all directions. It looks as though I’ll have to do the job myself, said the leader philosophically. And so he did.

    The next day, the tigers came upon a herd of water buffalo. Suppose you take over now, Jerome, said the old tiger. Jerome, reluctant to ask silly questions but determined to do his best, crept up on the grazing buffalo. He leaped straight at the largest of them, but the big buffalo tossed him to the ground and Jerome was lucky to escape in one piece. Mortified, he crept back to the group. No, no, no, NO! said the old tiger. What’s happening around here? Where is the performance I’m looking for? But you never taught us how to do it! cried one of the young tigers. The old tiger was in no mood to listen. The rest of you stay where you are, he growled, and I will do the job myself. And so he did.

    I can see, said the old tiger as the others gathered admiringly about him, that none of you is yet ready to take my place. He sighed, much as I hate to say it, I seem to be indispensable.

    Time brought little change. The old tiger sometimes took the younger ones along with him on hunts, and occasionally he let one of them try to make a kill. But having received no instruction, they were unequal to the task. And the old tiger still made no effort to teach the others his tricks! He had forgotten that he himself was a product of tiger-to- tiger coaching.

    One day, when he had grown quite old, the tiger met a friend, a wise lion he had known for years. Before long, the tiger was launched on his favorite topic of conversation: the lack of initiative in the younger generation.

    Would you believe it? he asked the lion. Here I am getting a bit long in the tooth, and I still have to do all the hunting for my pack. There seems to be no one of my stripe around. That’s odd, said the lion. I find the younger lions in my pride take well to instruction. Some of them are carrying a good bit of responsibility. In fact, he continued, I’m thinking about retiring completely next year and letting the younger fellows take over.

    I envy you, said the tiger. I’d take things easier and relax myself, if only I had a little leadership material around me! The old tiger sighed and shook his head. You can’t imagine, he said, what a burden it is to be indispensable!!

    2. Discussion questions:

    a. What does indispensable mean?
    b. What did the tiger mean when he said, What a burden it is to be indispensable.
    c. List the tigers in the story. How does each tiger relate to you as a person.
    d. What did the lion tell the tiger?
    e. Why did the lion seem to be the wiser of the two?
    f. How does the whole story relate to people?
    g. Listening is important. Would you rather have something read to you or read it yourself?
    Why? Why does it make a difference?


    After talking about the story, discuss how important it is not to just listen with our ears, but also to watch the person talking and how their eyes, hands and even their bodies talk to us. To understand involves more than just hearing.

    May 1994: These lesson plans are the result of the work of the teachers who have attended the Columbia Education Center’s Summer Workshop. CEC is a consortium of teachers from 14 western states dedicated to improving the quality of education in the rural, western United States, particularly the quality of math and science Education. CEC uses Big Sky Telegraph as the hub of their telecommunications network that allows the participating teachers to stay in contact with their trainers and peers that they have met at the Workshops.