(For info on the
author, see below.)
Once upon a time the animals had a school. They had four
subjects ~ running, climbing, flying, and swimming ~ and all animals took all subjects.
The duck was good at swimming, better than the teacher, in fact. He made
passing grades in running and flying, but he was almost hopeless in climbing.
So they made him drop swimming to practice more climbing. Soon he was only
average in swimming. But average is okay, 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,
which 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 winter.
His best time was summer, but school wasn't open then.
The penguin never went to school because he couldn't leave home, and they
wouldn't start a school out where he lived.
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 running class, but got discouraged trying to run on all fours like the other kids.
The fish quit school because he was bored. To him all four subjects were
the same, but nobody understood that. They had never been a fish.
The squirrel got A's in climbing, but his flying teacher made him start from the ground up instead of the treetop down. His legs got so sore
practicing take-offs that he began getting C's and D's in running.
But the bee was the biggest problem of all, so the teacher sent him to Dr.
Owl for testing. Dr. Owl said that the bee's wings were just too small for
flying and besides they were in the wrong place. But the bee never saw Dr.
Owl's report, so he just went ahead and flew anyway.
|The Animal School
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 adopted an activity curriculum consisting of running,
climbing, swimming, and flying. To make it easier to administer
the curriculum, ALL the animals took ALL 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 web feet were badly worn, so
then he was only average in swimming. But average was
acceptable in school, so nobody worried about that except the
The rabbit started at the top of the class in running, but he
had a nervous breakdown because of so much make-up work in
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 "Charlie horses" from over-exertion and then got a "C"
in climbing and a "D" in running.
The eagle was a problem child and was disciplined severely.
In the climbing class he beat all 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
exceedingly well and also could run, climb, and fly a little had
the highest average and was named 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 child to a badger and
later joined the ground hogs and the gophers in order to start a
successful private school.
P.S. From Barb:
There is much truth in this piece.
I hope that not only
those who currently think that the traditional
school system is the best
place to get an education will really hear the point of this article, but also
homeschooling parents who are bound to "school at home."
Info on the Author
One of my readers,
wrote to tell me that...
"This original parable was written in
the 1940's by
George H. Reavis. He was Assistant
of Schools in Cincinnati, Ohio. Over
variations of Animal School have
However the message is the same."
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got the bee background at:
I got the row of tulips with
flying bee at:
got the bee, schoolhouse,
and the bears at: