The school for the animals
old story tells of the creation of a school for the animals. In this
school, everybody took the same four courses: flying, swimming,
climbing, and running. Among the students were a duck, a flying
squirrel, a fox, and an elephant. These four were highly motivated, and
wanted to get good grades, so they all tried very hard.
did fantastically well in swimming and flying, but he lagged behind his
classmates in climbing and running, so focused special attention on
two subjects. However, his feet became so sore from trying to
run and his wings were so bedraggled from trying to climb that by the
end of the year he not only failed both those subjects, but made C’s in
swimming and flying, which had once been his two best subjects.
the beginning of the school year, the squirrel was first in his class
in climbing and running and was second only to the duck at flying. But
as the months wore on, he missed so much school from catching pneumonia
in his swimming class that he failed everything.
To make matters
even worse, because the squirrel constantly squirmed and chattered in
class, and had difficulty paying attention, he was diagnosed with a
learning disorder. The
squirrel eventually was placed in remedial classes and had to be medicated in order to continue with his school work.
fox was a natural in his running class and scored well in climbing and
swimming, but became so frustrated at his inability to get good Grades
flying that he began assaulting his classmates. He even tried to
eat the duck. His behavior was so disruptive he was expelled from
school. He fell in with a
rough crowd and eventually wound up in a center for animal delinquents.
The elephant, meanwhile, developed low self-esteem because he couldn’t do
in any of the subjects. When he sank into clinical depression, his
therapist persuaded him to try a different school that focused on
subjects such as lifting
and carrying. The elephant was
disappointed, because careers in lifting and carrying were not as
prestigious as careers in flying, swimming, climbing, or
running. Even though he always felt inferior, he managed to make a decent living and support his family.
Our Children are Individuals
point of this silly story about a school for the animals is that modern
education sends every child through a program of study that is targeted
toward a “generic” child. It expects every student to be able to follow
the same course of study in the same sequence, without considering
innate aptitudes or individual differences that are crucial to
children’s abilities to learn. Schooling does not take into account
differing personality types or temperaments.
understand learning differences can be more sympathetic with the
frustrations their children face in school and more helpful in finding
alternative approaches. The two major learning differences among
children have to do with learning styles and learning readiness.
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