Animal School Feedback!

RaisingSmallSouls’ popular video, “Animal School” has generated a flurry of comments. Educators and parents have raved about the moral of the story, and it has inspired many to take a deeper and more individual look at their students and children. Scroll down to see what others are saying about this video. Scroll down to read the existing comments and to post your own.

You can view the Animal School video by clicking here.

The soothing music is called “Yellow Flutterby Dreams” by artist Hansel Copeland (

We thought about which type of animal is catered to in a traditional school setting, and we believe it is the sheep. Passive followers do very well in school. ‘Sheep’ do as they are told, never question rules, and consistently follow the directions they are given. That’s not to say that other animals cannot do well in school… they can! Yet, most schools are geared towards the needs and characteristics of the sheep.

A father once told us about his two sons, who are as different as night and day. The eleven-year-old is a straight-A model student. On the other hand, the eight-year-old is restless, creative, and entrepreneurial. Since the younger son is “weight-challenged” (is that the current politically-correct way of saying “a little overweight”?) his mother sends him to school with fruits and vegetables as snacks. The family struggles financially, and the child does not bring any money with which to buy snacks. However, at the beginning of recess, the third-grade child asks his teacher for a handful of plastic cups. He borrows a dollar and finds a child with a 32oz. Snapple, and purchases the drink. Then he pours a bit of the iced-tea into each of his dozen cups, and sells them to his fellow students. He uses his profits to repay the loan and buy the commercialized sugar-and-salt-coated snacks that he craves. At the end of the day, he has had his fill of junk-food and several dollars in profit!

Which child has more “street smarts”? Which child is more likely to succeed in the “real world”? If you own a business, which child would you hire to work as your salesman? values your feedback, share your thoughts below!

Small Souls Staff

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  1. Ellen, the movie is truly AWESOME! Wow! I can relate best to the eagle, as I was always doing things that I shouldn’t have done in school.
    ~Cindy L.

  2. I am a teacher, and found many of my students within the beautiful movie. It really opened my eyes as to how we try to make all the students excell at all subjects, when the truth is that they are all very different people!

  3. Embarrassingly enough, my eyes were tearing toward the end of the movie. I don’t have kids yet- but I was a kid not so long ago… Great Movie!!!

  4. Totally Awesome! Im 16 and dropped out of school last year i guess b/c i was like a kangoroo. ps- the words were a litle bit too fast sometimes.

  5. Great job Ellen. I just watched the whole thing, some really good messages in there.

    I don’t have children, but that film reminded me so much of my younger brother. He struggled terribly in school and was considered nothing more than a nuisance by his teachers. I remember going with my Mom (single parent) and brother to “open house night” at the elementary school and have the teachers tell my mom (in front of him and everyone else) what a bad student he was and how little he tried.

    The only advice these teachers could offer was for my brother to “try harder” and “settle down”. If he applied himself, he could probably catch up to the “average” students.

    Finally, a teacher for my brother’s 8th grade class suggested he be tested for dyslexia – which my Mom had never heard of at the time. It’s amazing he got that far since he was never able to read and write.

    Anyway, he was tested and found to be severely dyslexic, but with an IQ of over 150. Even though my Mom immediately enrolled him in a new school that catered to children with learning disabilities, the damage was already done to his confidence and self-image. By his early 20s he was into drugs and just a few years later he was dead.

    As I was watching your film, I remembered so vividly going to those “open houses” and looking at the children’s artwork hung on the wall. Among the stick men and simple box houses, I remember being struck by the startling sketches that were so much better than all the others. These amazing drawings were dimensional sketches of the school, of cars, of people’s faces – and they were all signed in the corner with my brother’s name.

    I remember thinking at the time, “He couldn’t be that dumb”…

    Although my brother died almost 15 years ago, your film reminded me what a special person he was. Despite his struggles and problems, he was gifted in his own special way even though he didn’t measure up to the norm…

  6. Mom of Kayla says:

    Sweet! I love it! I’d really like to show it to my former English teacher, I was definitely a duck in school!

  7. Kirk, I don’t know what to say to your post. That is an incredibly sad story of unnecessarily lost human potential. I hope you have found some level of comfort from your terrible loss…

  8. This movie really touched me- Thank you.

  9. Inspiring. Whenever I watch it I hug the nearest kid ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Kirk – thank you for sharing your story. ** hugs ** go out to you. I’m sincerely sorry for your loss. You obviously saw your brother for who he truly was… and that means so much.

    Like you, I was touched by the movie because of my own personal experience. As a single mother to a gifted child who had many problems in elementary school… I can relate to the heartache and frustration. My son had such a terrible time with it all, to the point of becoming physically ill – including depression, anxiety and eventually grand mal seizures. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to homeschool him for a couple of years, which saved us both from the downward spiral of it all.

  11. Hi Ellen,

    I was really touched by your movie Animal School. I have a son in kindergarten who is having some trouble. Honestly, I knew he would. He just is not a sitter and unfortunately that raises red flags in school now days. He is a sweet, gifted, smart, compassionate little boy, he just has trouble sitting or consentrating in large groups. I just got a call from the counselor today and am almost in tears. It’s the same thing that so many kids are going through now, they want to evaluate him, label him to get him the “help” he needs. My heart is breaking for him. I see him growing every year and as he matures, he can sit longer and have better conversations. But because he’s having issues now, it’s just not good enough. I see almost everyone of the animals in my son and I don’t think there is anything wrong with him just the way his is. The story and the message that you have gotten across in your movie is just what I have been trying to tell the teachers. I would love for them to look at this from another angle. I want them to see my fears and see the beauty in my little boy. I want him to be able to be himself and grow and mature at his own pace.

    In any event, thank you so much for your movie. You’ll never know how much it has touched me. I have watched it many times and wish I could have it running constantly on my computer just to reasure myself that there is nothing “wrong” with these kids. We are all individuals and that is a good thing.

    Thank you again,

  12. I am a mom to six, and I just have to say that this is about the most perfect description of REAL kids I have seen. Every child is a unique individual and without each and every one of them, our world would not be complete. Thank you for reminding us all, most of all, ME as a mom, that no matter what their weaknesses, I am so very proud of the strengths…and also so very very blessed.

  13. WOW!! I had tears in my eyes ,and the chills, by the time I finished reading Animal School. Unfortunately, the “system” seems to forget that EACH child is a very unique individual and tends to put them all in the same category. I could go on and on because this is a very hot subject with me. Suffice it to say that I couldn’t agree more with Animal Story. I’m going to save it and share it with parents who have a concern about their child. Thanks for sharing it with me!

  14. So, so true! As a mother and teacher, I can think of children who remind me of each of the animals in the movie. The pictures are beautiful as well.

  15. Hi Ellen,
    This is great. Although my children have grown I am sending this to my daughter who has a 7 month old son. I am sure she will appreciate it. Thanks.

  16. Hi Ellen,

    Have shared this with as many people as I can, it’s awesome.

    My daughter is the fish in so many ways ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. The film is amazing – thank you. Will have to share it with our school SENco.

  18. Congratulations on creating such an important movie about the differences of children and their educational needs. Just today, after years of frustration and anxiety, we were told that our child has a learning disability and that he has been ‘acting out’ because he just doesn’t understand the work expected of him, so he shuts down and refuses to work. Reading Kirk’s story only added to my tears from your movie. They are my worst fears.

    I hope, after being ‘armed’ with today’s information we will be able to get him the education he needs, that will value his strengths instead of undermining them.

    Thank you for this important message and I will surely pass it on.

  19. Ellen, I thought this movie was amazing. I work in a primary school with children with special needs and have emailed the link to our head teacher. I have also posted the link onto a course forum, we are studying inclusion at the moment. Someone there has asked if she can in turn pass it on – I have given permission, taking into account your comments that you hope it opens the eyes of many educators and parents. Good work!

  20. Very touching and sad, too. I did tear up throughout, and that is not typical for me. The choices for educating our children are so varied and fraught with angst – that our children won’t be seen with open eyes and that their gifts will be ignored. You are an inspiration to continue to be our children’s advocate. Thank you.

  21. This made me cry- four years ago, my first son started school, aged just four and two weeks. He couldn’t write his name, count to ten or do any of the standard things, but his memory is amazing, and his capacity for learning facts- especially history- couldn’t fail to impress… or so we thought.
    However, at parents evening they announced he had been assessed, was streamed for maths, and that he would be in the lowest group. An experienced parent would have come home and been positive about their child’s first parent’s evening, but we were in shock, and came home to chastise him for not trying, and tell him to try harder.
    Ever since, he has believed himself to be poor at maths, even though he had soon begun to catch up, and i don’t think his confidence will ever recover.
    Our second son has just started at the same school, they have stopped streaming kids before they have a chance to learn anything, and he is having a great time- though it could be thanks to the fact we sent him to a day nursery, even though I don’t work, to help him off to a better start at school.
    My wish is that in future, kids who are less mature for their age won’t be penalised for it, so that when they come to an age where they can cope with the school day, they haven’t already endured a series of let downs, and been made to feel inferior.

  22. Wow… lot’s of moving comments here while I’ve been away! (Do you follow my personal blog?)It is outstanding how many parents and educators can relate to the various animals in the movie. It’s as though there’s this idealised concept of the vast majority of children being everything- having all the good characteristics of every animal, and having no lacks. The children who are lacking in some area are seen as ‘different’… yet I wonder… are the children who are not lacking in any attributes the ones that are truly ‘different’?

    I recently read about a young man who refused to marry into a family that had any sort of history of depression in the family. An advising therapist bluntly told the young man, “You have a choice: You can marry into a family that has a known case of depression or a family that has a hidden case of depression. No family has perfect mental-health across the board.”

    The bottom line is that every person- child or adult- is as unique as their fingerprints, no two people are exactly alike. Like a beautiful, scenic photo that has been divided into thousands of puzzle pieces… each ‘piece’ (or person) is necessary to complete the entire picture! Everyone has their specific strengths and also lacks, that can potentially blend into a beautiful, harmonious world- as soon as we as a society can accept the “Animal School” message.

  23. This is such a moving story. I am the proud parent to a kangaroo and an eagle. I never take the time to ponder such things as I have these past few moments.

    Thank you so much.

  24. Thanks, Mary for your kind words!

    Yeah, deep pondering can do much to help us understand the truth about where we want to go, and take our children!

  25. Ali Benyominov says:

    The movie was so touching, something that everyone can relate to. I’m sure it will attract lots of peoplet. I loved the pictures and the music. I wonder if you would want to offer this slide show to schools to show their teachers on Teacher Orientation Day, I’m sure they’d be interested and benefit from it too.