Is It a Cheetah?
By Stephanie S. Tolan
The child who does well in school, gets good grades, wins awards, and “performs” beyond the norms for his or her age, is considered talented. The child who does not, no matter what his innate intellectual capacities or developmental level, is less and less likely to be identified, less and less likely to be served.
A cheetah metaphor can help us see the problem with achievement-oriented thinking. The cheetah is the fastest animal on earth. When we think of cheetahs we are likely to think first of their speed. It’s flashy. It is impressive. It’s unique. And it makes identification incredibly easy. Since cheetahs are the only animals that can run 70 mph, if you clock an animal running 70 mph, IT’S A CHEETAH!
Certain conditions are necessary if it is to attain its famous 70 mph top speed… It must be healthy, fit and rested. It must have plenty of room to run. Besides that, it is best motivated to run all out when it is hungry and there are antelope to chase.
If a cheetah is confined to a 10 X 12 foot cage, though it may pace or fling itself against the bars in restless frustration, it won’t run 70 mph. IS IT STILL A CHEETAH?
If a cheetah has only 20 mph rabbits to chase for food, it won’t run 70 mph while hunting. It if did, it would flash past its prey and go hungry! Though it might well run on its own for exercise, recreation, fulfillment of its internal drive, when given only rabbits to eat, the hunting cheetah will only run fast enough to catch a rabbit. IS IT STILLA CHEETAH?
If a cheetah is fed Zoo Chow it may not run at all. IS IT STILLA CHEETAH?
If a cheetah is sick or if its legs have been broken, it won’t even walk. IS IT STILL A CHEETAH?
And finally, if the cheetah is only six weeks old, it can’t yet run 70 mph. IS IT,THEN, ONLY A“POTENTIAL” CHEETAH?