The Animal School: A Parable

Once upon a time the animals decided to do something decisive to meet the increasing complexity of their society. They held a meeting and finally decided to organise a school.

The curriculum consisted of running, climbing, swimming and flying. Since these were the basic behaviours of most animals, they decided that all the students should take all the subjects.

The duck was excellent at swimming, better in fact, than his teacher. He also did well in flying. But he was very poor in running and he was made to stay after school to practice. He had to drop swimming in order to get more time in which to practice running. This continued till his webbed feet were so badly damaged that he became only average at swimming· But average was an acceptable grade in the school, so nobody worried about that except the duck. The rabbit started at the top of her class in running, but finally had a nervous breakdown because of so much time spent in practicing swimming. The squirrel was excellent at climbing until he developed a psychological block in flying class, when the teacher insisted he start from the ground instead of from the tops of trees. He was forced to practice flying until he became muscle-bound and received a ‘C’ in climbing and a ‘D’ in running.

The eagle was the school’s worst discipline problem; in climbing class, she beat all of the others to the top of the tree but she insisted on using her own method to get there. The gophers, of course, stayed out of school and fought the tax levied for education because digging was not included in the curriculum. They apprenticed their children to the badger and later joined the groundhogs, and eventually started a private school offering alternative education.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The Animal School: A Parable

  1. Mukta

    Huh! Its about everyone of us: Forcibly Trying to fit in someone else’s shoes (for whatever reason). Its more about our educational system too. Everyone is trying to do or having to do what they don’t like or they are not good at just because ‘wo market me chalta hain’ or ‘to get good job’.
    You know, i think, improving our system and making education more chide-oriented ,as we discussed in today’s GD, will take a lot of time because its rooted deeply is socio-political culture,expectations, norms etc. BUT till then, if we want to be different from this and want to change the picture, we ourselves will have to be strong and firm about the choices we make. Even if they don’t have any demand in market.
    As Steve Jobs says ‘always try to do what you love to do. And if you’ve not found it yet, keep on searching for it. Otherwise, you’ll have to love whatever you get to do.’ …As many people do.
    In my opinion this is the moral of the story for humans. For animals, it would be: ‘Never try cross naturally assigned instincts and abilities. Never try to be Human.’ :) -Mukta.

  2. alia

    Hey Mukta :)
    i understood and agreed with what you had to say about us being strong and firm about bringing about a change. The thing that i didn’t understand was the two last sentences, about the animals, could you please explain that to me?

  3. mukta

    Yes, why not. – I accessed two morals from the story. the initial ‘blah’ was for ‘Humans’. As the story is full of animals, I imagined what an animal would learn from the story. According to me, the animal would first of all think not to cross the abilities and limits, even instincts, naturally assigned to him/her. But this is used metaphorically for humans, who have, in real, interrupted, intervened and destroyed, at times, natural processes and cycles. we, humans, have enormous capacities, unique intellect etc. but we forget that it has not given to us for ruling the nature and claiming our superiority. rather, it has bestowed to us for actively knowing the nature and maintaining its equilibrium. We have limits And we are always in trouble with them. Because we ‘want’ to run faster than we ‘can’.
    As the animals in the story are ‘made’ to do things that they ‘can’t’.

  4. alia

    acha, now i understood :)

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