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Flying in a V Formation

Teamwork and the V formation of flying geese

by Helen Bryant (revised, originally published in 2009)

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To consider the importance of working together in the same way as a group of flying geese.

Preparation and materials


Leader: Show the images of geese flying in a V formation.

How many times have you seen a large number of geese flying across the sky? It is a beautiful sight, but did you know that you could learn a lot from the humble goose? Even though they can’t talk, they can tell us several things that can help us in our everyday lives.

Let’s go through these facts one by one.

Reader 1: Fact: as each goose flaps its wings, it creates lift for the birds that follow, and this makes it easier for the flock to fly. By flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds 72 per cent greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. This means that they can get much further together than apart.

Leader: When we translate this to humans, we find that if we share a universal direction and sense of community, and have a sense of belonging, we can get to where we want to go quicker and more easily because we are all working for the same goal.

Reader 2: Fact: when a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It realizes that it needs the group to help it on its way. The goose will quickly move back into the pattern to take the benefit of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

Leader: If we have as much sense as a goose, we should stay in formation with those who are headed where we want to go, and who share our common goals. It is important that we are willing to accept the help that others can give us and in turn, give our help to others.

Reader 3:
 Fact: when the lead goose tires, it moves back into the formation and another goose flies to the front to take its place.

Leader: The geese understand that they all have a responsibility to take their turn in the hardest role at the front. The geese show us that it pays to play our part in doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership, even though that may be difficult at times. Like geese, we depend on each other’s skills, capabilities, gifts, talents and resources.

Reader 4: Fact: the geese flying in formation honk to encourage those at the front to keep up their speed.

Leader: How many times have you heard that noise, and wondered why they did it? They don’t do it just to be loud or noisy. We need to make sure that what we say is encouraging. You know that when you are praised or encouraged, you feel that you will do better. We must encourage each other and be kind to each other at all times, but especially when things become difficult or the pressure is on.

Reader 5: Fact: when a goose gets sick or wounded, two geese will drop out of the formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They will then stay with it until it dies or can fly again. Then, they start out with another formation or catch up with the flock.

Leader: If we had as much sense as geese, we would stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong. The geese know instinctively that they need to help one another, which shows a deep understanding that care of the flock is important. We, too, should care for and look after one another.

Time for reflection

Isn’t it interesting that a flock of geese can reflect so much about what it is like to be human? Our behaviour really doesn’t differ much from that of geese - except, of course, that we cannot fly!

The instinct to care and protect is ingrained within us, as is also the need for community, and the need for company. John Donne once said that ‘no man is an island’, meaning that no one can continually be on their own; we need to have other people around us.

Time alone is essential, but think about how lonely you would be if you didn’t have others around to help and encourage you.

So, next time you see geese flying in the sky, or you hear them honking, think of all the lessons that the humble goose has taught you today, and take the facts and reflections into your life today and every day.

Dear God,
Let us realize that working together is better than working alone,
And that encouragement is often all that is needed to help people on their way.
Allow us to understand that others need us as much as we need them.
Remind us of our ability not only to take, but also to give.
Allow us to marvel at the similarities in all your creatures.

Publication date: April 2018   (Vol.20 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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