Memorial Day is a perfect opportunity to not only honor the many sacrifices of others for our behalf, but also to engage in some quiet reflection. What’s important? Where are we, where have we been, where are we headed?
In the spirit of reflection, I’m passing along a little fable that was written 70+ years ago. It’s packed with insights and ideas to ponder, including, how can something seven decades old still be so resoundingly relevant today?
Enjoy . . . and, contemplate.
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 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 web 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 make-up 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 from the treetop down. He also developed “charlie horses” from overexertion 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 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 exceedingly 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 child to a badger and later joined the ground hogs and gophers to start a successful private school.
The Animal School
By George H. Reavis*
*This fable was written as a call to action when George Reavis (1883-1970) was the Assistant Superintendent of the Cincinnati Public Schools in the 1940s. This content is in the public domain and is free to copy, duplicate, and distribute. Crystal Springs Books has published an edition with copyright protected color illustrations, ISBN: 1-884548-31-8.