“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." Albert Einstein

Dumb Tests Not Dumb Kids

We've got lots of kids who believe they are dumb. We have potential artists and actors who have no “test” to tell them they are gifted. We have possibly brilliant scientists and engineers thinking they are dumb because they cannot spell. We have amazing future authors feeling ignorant because they can't do the math. We have talented graphic designers who can draw a picture to make you weep, but cry because there's nothing at school they can do with any talent.

Can a Fish Climb a Tree?

What is our problem in school? We're trying to throw fish in trees and pretend they climbed the tree themselves. We're guilting, yelling, and pushing fish to try to crawl up the branch and they simply cannot.

Meanwhile, we're ignoring their ability to swim. Not only are we ignoring their capacity to swim, but quite literally many kids are a fish out of water: starving for their native element.

Failing to Help Kids Find Their Strengths

Until we start looking at kids and finding their strengths, we'll keep failing children. It isn't kids failing the test; it is adults failing the kids that should have us most upset.

Sure we all need some modicum of math and literature and science. I get that. But what I don't get is why we don't give one single test in most schools to identify a child's strengths. (We give YouScience at my school, which does find a child's strength.)

It just makes me furious how many people don't understand the weakness in not looking for strengths. We can personalize learning. We can help kids with technology. We can do better.

But as long as we keep attempting to standardize everything about children, we're going to have trouble personalizing. Kids aren't widgets and fish aren't comfortable on land. And only the incredibly clueless are comfortable with the current education system.

Sometimes a picture is all you need to get the point across. – Vicki Davis

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2 thoughts on “Fish Don’t Climb Trees: The Education Cartoon Everyone Should See

  1. I am a retired teacher and I have written a book about Australian education. I would really like to use the cartoon about standardised testing but have been unable to find the author. Do you know who created the cartoon or if it’s generally recognised as being anonymous? I’ve seen many references to it on the internet.