Saturday, December 14, 2013

Teach the Child NOT the Subject

A story for everyone to read. 

The Animal School 

by George Reavis

Once upon a time, the animals decided they must do something heroic to meet the problems of a “new world.” So they organized a school. They adopted an activity curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming, and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects.

The duck was excellent in swimming, in fact better than his instructor; but he made only passing grades in flying and was very poor in running, he had to stay after school and also drop swimming in order to practice running. This was kept up until his webfeet were badly worn and he was only average in swimming. But average was acceptable in school, so nobody worried about that except the duck.

The rabbit started at the top of the class in running, but had a nervous breakdown because of so much make- up work in swimming. The squirrel was excellent in climbing until he developed frustration in the flying class where his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of from the treetop down. He also developed “charley horses” from over exertion and then got a ‘C’ in climbing and a ‘D’ in running. The eagle was a problem child and was disciplined severely. In the climbing class he beat all the others to the top of the tree, but insisted on using his own way to get there.

The prairie dogs stayed out of school and fought the tax levy because the administration would not add digging and burrowing to the curriculum. They apprenticed their child to a badger and later joined the groundhogs and gophers to start a successful private school.

Reflection by Ken Willers 
This interesting parable makes us reflect on the role education plays in the lives of our children. Let’s keep this parable in mind when we meet as teachers or parents to discuss a child's progress at school. How do we embrace our children with their strengths and weaknesses? How do we encourage them to use their gifts while recognizing areas for growth?

Schools must embrace a child right where he or she is, in a loving and caring environment. Educators should inspire a child to move forward so he or she can reach beyond his or her own expectations. All children possess potential not yet realized, our obligation as educators and parents is to help our children discover their abilities and develop them to the fullest. 

Ken Willers
Principal at the School of the Madeleine
1225 Milvia Street
Berkeley, CA 94709

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