Lemmings: small rodents whose migratory practices lead them to follow each other in mass suicide by walking off cliffs, into the ocean, and thereby drowning.
I regularly tell my students: “Don’t be lemmings!” By this I mean something like “don’t be sheep,” and I usually say this when students look like they’re swallowing everything I’m saying hook, line, and sinker (holy mixed metaphors Batman!). I’d rather them show a little resistance. Don’t blindly follow me off the cliff and into the ocean!
Recently I said this to the students in one of my classes, and they asked me what a lemming was. I told them and explained the metaphor, but seconds later a student challenged me: “I just looked it up on my iPhone—that lemming story is a myth.”
That’s an ironic WIN if ever there was one.
My response was something like this: “That’s exactly what I want you to do! Call me out when I’m wrong!”
The same student wrote in her most recent paper something like the following: “A wise man once said ‘don’t be lemmings,’ but that statement has been red-flagged for review.”