An edited conversation between the Queen Hive of the Buggers and the Fathertrees of the piggies about how humans are different from them in Xenocide, the third book in the Ender’s Game series.
“They’re so hungry for answers, these humans. They have so many questions….They want to know why, why, why. Or how. …”(Queen Hive)
“They like to understand everything. But so do we, you know.” (Fathertrees)
“Yes, you’d like to think you’re just like the humans, wouldn’t you? But you’re not like Ender. Not like the humans. He has to know the cause of everything, he has to make a story about everything and we don’t know any stories. We know memories…We don’t even care why, the way these humans do. We find out as much as we need to know to accomplish something, but they always want to know more than they need to know. After they get something to work, they’re still hungry to know why it works and why the cause of its working works.” (Queen Hive)
…”We know about their dreaming.” (Fathertrees)
“They’re practicing. They’re doing it all the time. Coming up with stories. Making connections. Making sense out of nonsense.” (Queen Hive)
“What good is it, when it means nothing.” (Fathertrees)
“That’s just it. They have a hunger we know nothing about. The hunger for answers. The hunger for making sense. The hunger for stories.” (Queen Hive)
“We have stories.” (Fathertrees)
“You remember deeds. They make up deeds. They change what their stories mean. They transform things so that the same memory can mean a thousand different things. Even from their dreams, sometimes they make up out of that randomness something that illuminates everything. Not one human being has anything like the kind of mind you have. The kind we have. Nothing as powerful. And their lives are so short, they die so fast. but in their century or so they come up with ten thousand meanings for every one that we discover…
But in Ender’s mind, madness. Thousands of competing contradictory impossible visions that make no sense at all because they can’t all fit together but they do fit together, he makes them fit together, this way today, that way tomorrow, as they’re needed. As if he can make a new idea-machine inside his head for every new problem he faces. As if he conceives of a new universe to live in, every hour a new one, often hopelessly wrong and he ends up making mistakes and bad judgments, but sometimes so perfectly right that it opens things up like a miracle and I look through his eyes and see the world his new way and it changes everything. Madness and then illumination We knew everything there was to know before we met these humans, before we built our connection with Ender’s mind. Now we discover that there are so many ways of knowing the same things that we’ll never find them all.” (Queen Hive)
I think this is a pretty good explanation of what it means to be human. In these lines I see learning through trial and error, curiosity, questioning, exploring, longing for purpose and meaning, and the importance of stories.
Are stories a part of your students’ lives? Your classroom? Does your class resemble this at all?