Animal Wranglers, Kid Wranglers

We went to the Shinagawa Aquarium today!

(I’m in a terrifically good mood, so please: no criticisms today of aquariums, zoos and circuses.)

I really rather liked seeing the different water creatures, and the jellyfish hypnotized me. My favorites? The sea turtles, of course.

We watched a sea lion show, and even if they hadn’t been trained to do tricks, you could still see that those sea lions were smiling. They seemed happy.

The show reminded me of this February 22 NPR report on animal wranglers. Reporter Susan Stamberg asked the all-important questions: why do animals do it? What’s in it for them?

Animal coordinator Mark Forbes responded, “If it’s not fun, then they’re not going to do it. It’s really all about the relationship with the trainers, and they have to trust you.”

I don’t mean to compare our young learners to trained animals, but the approach to teaching young learners is often very similar.

If the lesson isn’t fun, then the students aren’t going to participate in the lesson.

True, we all have stories of students not participating no matter how fun we make the lesson.

But perhaps the challenge lies in knowing what is fun for them, not for us.

And yes, they have to trust us, just as we have to trust them.


Ooh, speaking of ways to get kids aware of the nature around them, Kid Wrangler is a company that provides family whitewater rafting trips in the nifty state of Idaho. No, I don’t know anything about this company, but I have a tendency to like people who come from Idaho.


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