「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


The Animal School

By Kip A. Cates


Schools have a challenging job! On one hand, they try to provide young people with a common set of knowledge and skills. On the other hand, they strive to promote the unique talents and abilities of each individual student.

Finding a good balance between these two aims is not easy. This dilemma is illustrated by the story of The Animal School. This is a well-known fable that was made famous by the American educator, Leo Buscaglia. Here's how it goes:

Once upon a time, all the animals in the forest got together and decided to create a school. They sat down together to write a curriculum, and discussed what subjects to include.

The rabbit was a great runner, so he proposed that they include running. The bird loved to fly, so she suggested that flying be taught. The fish lived in water, so he wanted swimming to be a school subject. The squirrel lived in the trees, so she insisted that they include a class on tree-climbing.

All of the other animals wanted their special skills to be taught as well, so they put these in the academic program, too. Then, they made the mistake of insisting that all the animals study all the courses in the curriculum.

The rabbit was an outstanding runner. But the other animals insisted that he first learn to fly. So, they put him high up in a tree and encouraged him to jump. The poor rabbit fell to the ground, broke his leg and fractured his skull. As a result, he could no longer run well. Instead of getting an A in running, he got a C+. However, he got a C in flying because he had at least made an effort.

The bird was confident that she'd get an A in flying class. However, the other animals insisted that she first learn to dig a hole in the ground like a gopher. In digging the hole, she broke one of her wings, so she could no longer fly well. As a result, she only got a B- in flying.

The same thing happened with everyone else. At the end of the school term, half of the animals were injured in hospital while the other half were physically exhausted, emotionally traumatized or psychologically depressed. The top student with the best marks was an eccentric eel who wasn't particularly good at any subject but who could do almost everything to some extent.

What's the point of this story? It tells us that young people have their own special abilities which they should be proud of. It suggests that a key role of schools is to find and develop the unique talents of each individual learner. And it warns about the dangers of forcing students to become educational clones who learn and behave just like everyone else.



The Japan Times ST: November 8, 2013

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版