The Animal School

I first read about The Animal School fable in a turned down page of a book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey

Habit 6 is the shortest chapter in the book, but there is a powerful lesson illustrated by a story.

Synergy, as Covey explains, is the effect of all the other habits working together. It’s learning to see that everything does not have to be your way. Good can come from varying opinions. It is about learning to value differences. And it is probably best with this fable by George Reavis.

Here’s the fable…..

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 had 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. Since he was slow in running, he had to stay after school and also drop swimming in order to practice running. This was kept up until his webbed feet 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 makeup 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 the treetop down. He also developed a “charlie horse” from overexertion and then got a C in climbing and 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.

At the end of the year, an abnormal eel that could swim exceeding well and also run, climb and fly a little had the highest average and was valedictorian.

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 children to a badger and later joined the groundhogs and gophers to start a successful private school.

The Animal School, George Reavis

This story was written when George Reavis was the Assistant Superintendent of the Cincinnati Public Schools back in the 1940s!

They are all suffering in an educational system that gives little or no regard to a child’s individual strengths and learning differences.

The message reminds us that sweeping education reforms that neglect to recognize students as unique individuals and learners will, undoubtedly, set our students up to fail.

I’ve been reading another book as well, from a medical perspective about the uniqueness of each person’s brain.

Not only must we realize that we are all unique, but we all learn differently. Whether a child or adult, we are setting ourselves for a personal failure of gigantic proportions to think that everyone is going to fit nicely into a mold.

I’ll talk about this later on how I feel it relates to your Empty Nest and finding new purpose for your life!

Until then, this content is in the public domain and free to copy, duplicate, and distribute. If you prefer a copy then please feel free to purchase an illustrated copy of

Hugs and feathers from the nest~~()~~

Kim Steadman is the COOP (Chief Online Operating Person) for The Re-Feathered Nest. A place of encouragement for moms entering the Empty Nest Zone who are ready to RePurpose and ReDesign according to God’s purpose for their lives now that the kids have flown the coop. Kim can be found on Facebook at and on Google+ at +Kim.

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