September 4, 2008

Animal School by R.Z. Greenwald

I came across this poem while cleaning up my hard drive this morning. It has moved me to tears many times and always, always reminds me that children are individuals, and as parents, it is our blessing to honor, support, and grow them.


“Animal School” by R.Z. Greenwald


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. 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.

I think I know a bee or two, don’t 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 way of doing things. While he is not doing anything “wrong”, his non-conforming is perceived as troublemaking, for which he is punished.

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

The zebra is the heavy, tall, short or 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 the 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 a regular class environment.

The squirrel, unlike the duck who “manages,” becomes a failure.

The bee, oh the bee. The bee is the child who the school just feels it cannot deal with, yet against all odds and with the backing of his parents, has enough self motivation to do well even though everyone thought he couldn’t.

I have had the pleasure of knowing many bees.

Each 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 is very own exclusive collection of gifts. Children do not come with an instruction 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!

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