2e Tuesday: Animal School.

And I’m not saying ‘Animal School’ because we’re a bunch of animals over here.

What I mean is, I just came across a video I haven’t seen in a while. The last time I watched it was in California almost 4 years ago, while I was anguishing over my decision to pull Naturalist out of school. I had only ever hung out with the parents of Naturalist’s schoolmates, and so had nowhere to turn to for a sympathetic ear and good advice. Everyone I knew thought I was crazy for doing it, but I’d finally reached a point where I knew I’d be crazy if I didn’t. (It only took me 4 years of her crying every day to reach that point…hello?!?)

So anyway, when we bailed on 3rd grade towards the end of the year, we thought….”Hey! Everyone else is in school…let’s go to Disneyland!” and then I started feeling really great about our decision. Also, I met up with a friend of the family who homeschooled each one of her 8? 10? kids through high school. She could tell I was stressed about the whole situation…the education system, my dependence on that same system, my stress about Naturalist not thriving there (was it her? them? me? what?!?), and a million other things that jump up on ya when you run and leap into homeschooling at the drop of a hat.

She shared with me the video for the short story, ‘Animal School’. By the second sentence, I was crying. I realize that’s not a real great incentive to get you to watch it if you haven’t before, but I gotta be honest here! After struggling so hard for 4 years to get Naturalist to ‘fit in’, this movie cleared my vision a bit and I had a ‘Eureka!’ moment. Maybe it’s not Naturalist! Maybe there is hope for us after all!

“This story is reproduced from Preparing Our Children for Success, by Rabbi Z. Greenwald with permission from the copyright holders, Artscroll/ Mesorah Publications, LTD.
*****
Once upon a time the animals had a school. They had to create a curriculum that would satisfy everyone, so they chose four subjects: running, climbing, flying, and swimming. All the animals, of course, studied all the subjects.

The duck was very good at swimming, better than the teacher, in fact. He received passing grades in running and flying, but was hopeless in climbing, so they made him drop swimming so that he could practice climbing. After a while he was only average at swimming, but average is still acceptable, at least in school, and nobody worried much about it except the duck.

The eagle was considered a troublemaker. In his climbing class he beat everybody to the top of the tree, but he had his own way of getting there that was against the rules. He always had to stay after school and write, “Cheating is wrong,” five hundred times. This kept him from soaring, which he loved, but schoolwork comes first.

The bear flunked because they said he was lazy, especially in the winter. His best time was summer, but school wasn’t open then.

The zebra played hooky a lot because the ponies made fun of his stripes, and this made him very sad.

The kangaroo started out at the top of the racing class, but became discouraged when told to move swiftly on all four legs the way his classmates did.

The fish quit school because he was bored. To him, all four subjects were the same, but nobody understood that because they had never seen a fish.

The squirrel got an A in climbing, but his flying teacher made him start from the ground up, instead of from the treetop down. His legs got so sore practicing takeoffs that he began getting Cs in climbing and Ds in running.

The bee was the biggest problem of all, so the teacher sent him to Doctor Owl for testing. Doctor Owl said that the bee’s wings were too small for flying and they were in the wrong place. The bee never saw Doctor Owl’s report, so he just went ahead and flew anyway. I think I know a bee or two, how about you?

The duck is the child who does well in math and poorly in English and is given tutorials by the English teacher while his classmates are doing math. He loses his edge in math, and only does passably well in English.

The eagle is the child who is turned into a troublemaker because he has his “own style” of doing things. While he is not doing anything “wrong,” his non-conforming is perceived as troublemakeing, for which he is punished.

Who does not recognize the bear? The kid who is great in camp, thrives on extra-curricular, but really just goes flat in the academics.

The zebra is the heavy, tall, or short, self-conscious kid whose failure in school few realize is due to a sense of social inadequacy.

The kangaroo is the one who instead of persevering gives up and becomes that discouraged child whose future disappears because he was not appreciated.

The fish is a child who really requires full special education and cannot shine in the regular classroom.

The squirrel, unlike the duck who “manages,” becomes a failure.
The bee, oh the bee, is the child who the school just feels it cannot deal with, yet, against all odds, with the backing of his parents, has enough self-motivation to do well even though everyone thought he couldn’t. I had the pleasure of knowing many bees.

Your child is a unique blend of talents, personality, and ingredients nowhere else to be found.

Some children are skilled intellectually, others are blessed emotionally, and many are born with creative ingenuity.

Each child possesses their his own exclusive collection of gifts.

Your child did not come with a direction booklet.

Effective parents are always learning, studying, and customizing the instructions for their individual child.

Each and every child is as unique as his fingerprints; a sparkling diamond of unparalleled beauty.

Don’t let your child be a kangaroo!”

Raising Small Souls

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6 Responses

  1. I have loved that video for two years.

    It’s one of my very favorite things.

  2. that’s gorgeous – i love it!

  3. Great story that every teacher and parent should know!

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