The Animal School


Table of Contents

The book, The Animal School, is in the form of an allegory. Mainly, George H. Reavis highlights the importance of developing strengths and nurturing weaknesses when giving instructions in the classroom. Essentially, the publication is about the dangers of standardized tests and inadequate curriculum. Attention is on the development of appropriate learning goals and objectives, differentiation of the instruction to cater for the different strengths and micro, as well as, macro-curriculum. 

Schools serve a wide variety of purposes that include emotional, civic and cognitive development. Mainly, these core elements ensure that individuals are endowed with skills and knowledge to deal with challenges in the society. According to Reavis (1988), the animals decided to construct a school so that they could meet the challenges of the world. In other words, the primary objective was to tackle the everyday challenges of the society. The first thing they did after the construction was adopted an activity curriculum. In particular, the main activities within it were swimming, climbing, running and flying. Unfortunately for purposes of standardization, all subjects were taken. 

As expected, not one animal was good at all the subjects. For example, the duck excelled at swimming and was, in fact, better the instructor. However, he made passing grades in other disciplines. The duck was poor in running. Duck’s weakness in running had an impact even on his best subject, swimming. He was forced to drop it to focus on improving running. Duck’s swimming grade took a toll since his focus on running had damaged his webbed feet. He had to settle for average in swimming, and that affected is morale. 

Rabbit excelled in running but makeup classes in swimming caused him a nervous breakdown. The same thing happened with squirrel who excellent in climbing but could not fly. He became increasingly frustrated as a result. Over exertion affected, his climbing grade and he eventually got a C and D in running. 

The imperfect curriculum was only good for eel, and he is the only one that graduated even though he is abnormal in a way. Prairie dogs spent their time fighting the tax levy since digging was not incorporated into the school curriculum. However, they would eventually take their children to a private burrowing school. This was an attempt at fulfilling the education needs of the prairie dogs. The typical curriculum failed to do this and so another branch developed from it. Clearly, differentiation in the instruction was lacking from the curriculum and was addressed in the badger’s private school. Differentiation occurs in several ways. In actual sense, a classroom can be differentiated according to process, content, product and learning environment (Levy, 2008).


Reavis highlights some important issues affecting the current education standards. Among them is the danger associated with standardizing. Standardizing fails to cater for different strengths that characterize every child. In actual sense, focusing on all the subjects on the curriculum had an adverse impact on the strengths of the animals. They deteriorated with time to be average. Covering the school curricula, as best as possible, comes with its own challenges that include overexertion, frustration, and nervous breakdown. Animals like duck which were good at swimming were reduced to average swimmers as result of focusing on the whole curriculum. 

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  1. Levy, H. M. (2008). Meeting the needs of all students through differentiated instruction: Helping every child reach and exceed standards. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas81(4), 161-164.
  2. Reavis, G. H. (1988). The animal school: The administration of the school curriculum with references to individual differences. Rosemont, N.J: Programs for Education.
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