[FOUNTAIN]Don’t throw the rabbit into the pool

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[FOUNTAIN]Don’t throw the rabbit into the pool

Once upon a time, the animals decided to organize a school. They adopted a curriculum consisting of running, climbing, flying and swimming. To make it easier on the administrators, all the animals were required to take all the subjects.
The duck was good at swimming ― even better than the instructor was. He was a good flyer, too, but a very poor runner. He had to stay after school to practice running; eventually, this wore out his webbed feet. After that, he was only an average swimmer.
The rabbit was the best runner, but he had a nervous breakdown from being forced to swim. The squirrel had outstanding grades in climbing class, but flying was a problem; his teacher kept insisting that he fly up from the ground, instead of down from the treetops.
The eagle was a problem child. He was by far the best student in flight class, but he refused to attend any other class whatsoever. By the end of the year, an eel ― which could swim pretty well and run, climb and fly at least a little bit ― became the valedictorian, because he had a higher grade average than anyone.
This story, by the educator R.H. Reeves, is an allegory about the importance of focusing on students’ individual potential when it comes to education.
Animals can excel only when they’re doing what they were made to do. When they’re forced to do something else, they’re helpless. A recent edition of the JoongAng Ilbo’s weekend section introduced readers to some prodigies in golf, billiards and magic. If these kids were sent to Mr. Reeves’ animal school, they’d might find themselves as inappropriately challenged as the eagle was. As a student, even the great inventor Thomas Edison struggled with a standardized curriculum.
The lesson of the animal school can be applied to the hiring process. If less consideration is given to the expertise required for the job than to other factors having nothing to do with it, then the organization can’t grow. (Of course, an employee who has some flaw that’s significant enough to undermine the organization itself shouldn’t be hired for any position, no matter how talented he is.)
During the past week, there has been a great deal of interest in who will be appointed the next deputy prime minister for the economy. The Blue House announced the candidates, and various sectors of society have been evaluating them. But people seem less interested in their competence than in their ethics and their personal flaws. It seems as though we’re recruiting a minister from the animal school.


by Lee Se-jung

The writer is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.

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