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Crazy or What?

As mad as a March hare

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To encourage us to consider alternative approaches to lifes challenges.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and two readers.


Leader: I’d like everyone to stand up, please.


I want you to jump vertically into the air. Id like to see who can jump the highest. Dont jump just once. Id like you to do it several times. See if you can improve on your last jump.

Pause to allow time for participation. Give encouragement.

Next, Id like you to do some shadow-boxing. Out in front of you, not towards each other. Really go for it, fast blows, working up a sweat. Imagine the punchbag in front of you.

Pause to allow time for participation. Give encouragement.

Now, glance round and look at other people. Dont they look mad? Are you impressed by everyones show of strength, agility and fitness? I think not.

Thank you. You may sit down and recover.

The strange behaviour that we have just exhibited is typical for the month of March . . . among male hares in fields. If we were to go out into the countryside today, we might be lucky enough to glimpse some male hares excitedly leaping into the air and boxing, often against each other. Its not known exactly why they do this. It may be to impress the female hares during the mating season. It may be because theyre full of the joys of spring! Experts arent sure. All we do know is that they look absolutely mad. Its this behaviour thats given us the expression ‘as mad as a March hare’.

The writer Lewis Carroll observed this behaviour and so created one of his best-known characters, the March Hare, who appears in the tea party scene in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Together with his friend, the Hatter, the March Hare displays totally bizarre behaviour during the supposedly civilized scene, acting as if every moment is time for tea.

Time for reflection

Leader: Some of the most famous scientists in history have been deemed mad. Leonardo da Vinci was thoroughly antisocial and highly secretive. He didnt mix with people and they didnt want to mix with him. Sir Isaac Newton was prone to experiment on himself to investigate various phenomena, particularly in relation to his eyes. Albert Einsteins ideas were so far ahead of other scientists that they condemned what they couldnt understand.

Jesus was accused of being mad by those who felt challenged by his claims. Even his family were worried. They wanted to usher him quietly away. Similarly, St Paul was accused of being mad by the Roman governor, Festus, when he declared that Jesus had risen from death. It just wasnt possible.

However, all of these men, although they exhibited unusual behaviour, were the source of significant developments in their particular fields. Their so-called madness consisted simply of thinking, speaking and acting outside the box.

Maybe we would all benefit from a little ‘madness’ in our lives. Its too easy to go with the flow, to act conventionally, to do things the way theyve always been done. That merely results in everything remaining the same. So, here are some techniques that we may like to try out for ourselves, particularly when addressing a problem.

Reader 1: Lets bounce ideas off one another. Six brains will probably be better than one. We must remember to listen carefully to one another rather than preparing our next contribution, though. Also, it would be helpful to have a note-taker so that no ideas get lost.

Reader 2: Lets try to see the problem through other peoples eyes to get a different perspective. It might look different to someone else. It may not even look like a problem at all to them.

Reader 1: Rather than making only a careful, logical analysis of the situation (what we call critical thinking), lets try to do some lateral thinking. By that, I mean making unlikely links, exploring the apparently impossible solutions, the bizarre, the unrealistic, the old-fashioned. Never reject an idea out of hand. It may have the germ of a solution somewhere inside.

Reader 2: Lets ask the six key questions about the situation: why? Where? When? Who? What? How? Some of them may seem irrelevant, but we should ask them anyway. We may get a surprise.

Reader 1: We should open ourselves up to thinking of ideas in unlikely circumstances. Some peoples best ideas come when theyre taking a shower. Others are sparked by the TV programme theyre watching. Lots of people get their best ideas when they go for a walk, with or without the dog.

Leader: Heres a final idea, which involves a little research: discover your thinking hat. The concept comes from a man called Edward de Bono. Look him up, identify your favourite thinking hat and then try on a few others and see what ideas you come up with.

The world could do with a little madness this March. Its probably easier for you to adopt than it is for someone older. We easily become set in our ways, and possibly a little cynical. Your brains are flexible and creative. Make the most of them.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for imagination and creativity.
Remind us of the range of possibilities when we feel blocked in.
Lead us to the ones that will work.

Publication date: March 2020   (Vol.22 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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