Yesterday, my teacher ended the class by reading us “The Animal School” and reciting the quote (both pasted below). The basis of the story is that the creatures decide to make a school, which needs a curriculum (running, swimming, climbing, and flying). The animals are judged on their success in all subjects. It describes the situations of the duck, squirrel, bear, and bee who are forced to look down upon themselves because they can’t achieve in all subjects. The bee and bear in particular are judged for their differences and called “not normal” or “lazy.” The Albert Einstein quote is pretty similar to the story because fish are good at swimming and cannot climb trees, but it doesn’t make them failures.
These made me think about how curriculum can force children to dislike learning because they must give up the thing they enjoy in order to work on the subjects in which they do not succeed. Teachers have difficulty in schools today not focusing on getting the grades up and “practice, practice, practice.” However, it is still important to reward children for the things they are good at and what makes them unique 🙂 This story also brought up stereotypes about different people’s cultures, like the bear who hibernates during winter being called lazy, because the principal didn’t understand that it was necessary for the bear to fully be himself. It is important for children to feel comfortable knowing that mistakes are okay and that they all have different talents. I want to tell this story near the beginning of the school year with my students to get them pondering about how special they are and not worry if they can’t be good at everything.