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The Soaring Fish

How the fish learned to climb the tree of success -- even when the odds were stacked against him right from the start


The following quote summarizes the problem with standards and norms perfectly:

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid.

Did you know that every child learns differently? That is why it is our responsibility to help children tap into their potential by addressing them as unique and special individuals. We must help them identify their strengths through errorless learning methods, where they can make mistakes but never fail completely. Errorless learning can help increase levels of self-esteem and self-worth in children, as well as decrease school dropout rates and incidences of bullying. Moreover, we will all be working together, as a team, to promote a world where success comes in all shapes and sizes.

Unfortunately, this type of world does not yet exist. Instead, we still use a standardized system to measure educational achievement and children must learn to climb this predetermined academic ladder to achieve success. We are still judging success in the same ‘old’ ways, even though this may involve asking children to do things that will lead them to failure. It is like asking a fish to climb a tree, even though he is not equipped to be outside of the water and does not have any hands/legs/paws.


The failure that occurs is inevitable: the fish cannot climb the tree and therefore cannot achieve success in the eyes of our academic system. He then becomes depressed, feels unworthy and incapable, he develops low-self esteem, becomes anxious, and decides to give up. The next time he is asked to climb a tree (even if it is a different tree, with different leaves in a different geographic area), the fish decides that he is a failure and gives up before he even starts. The fish believes that he is stupid. If only the fish had been given some tools so that he could succeed!


Here are some ideas about how a fish could climb a tree:

  • The tree could be transported to the bottom of the ocean or to a large swimming pool. This way, the fish would be able to swim up the tree.

  • Small fish bowls could be placed at every step along a ladder all the way to the top of the tree and the fish could jump from bowl to bowl until he has reached the top.

  • The fish could ask for help—he could find a human to climb the tree while holding his fish bowl.


These ideas are completely unconventional and they may even seem a bit silly. BUT THE END RESULT IS THE SAME: THE FISH MAKES IT TO THE TOP OF THE TREE! He no longer feels like the stupid fish that couldn’t—instead, he feels successful! And isn’t it fantastic that success is accompanied with the following emotions: joy and pride, accomplishment, confidence, self-satisfaction and self-worth! The fish was able to overcome a huge obstacle, understands what success feels like and wants more! He feels capable, like he can face the world! Now imagine what would happen if we equipped all children with the tools and strategies that they needed to achieve success?



Are you looking for support to help your child develop their executive function skills or academic strategy? We can help. Contact us today!



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