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A Fairy Tale for Gifted Students

Posted by Categories: Gifted Students

Sometimes an effective way to teach students is through parables, fairy tales, and analogies. Gifted students usually enjoy thinking in this manner as it can require imagination, complex and analogical thinking, and allows for multiple interpretations, based on the learner’s experiences. Here’s a story for the adults who may also find this method to be an entertaining way to think about how we educate our gifted students.

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 a curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming, and flying, and to make it easier to administer, all of the animals took all of the subjects.

The duck was excellent in swimming, better in fact than his instructor, and made passing grades in flying, but he was very poor in running. Since he was so slow in running, he had to stay after school and also drop swimming to practice running. This practice continued until his web feet were so badly worn that 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 such 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 tree top down. He also developed cramps from overexertion and then got a C in climbing and a D in running.

So, 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 groundhogs and the gophers to start a successful private school.

From your experience, what would you say is the moral of this story in terms of how we treat gifted students in our school systems?

All the best,

Dr. Barbara Swicord, Ed.D.
Executive Director, National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)
President, Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG)

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