Tree Climbing Fish

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

-Albert Einstein (or someone smart)

This quote speaks to the heart of learning differences. We all process, retain, and express understanding of new information in unique ways. Natural strengths and weaknesses, life experiences, and past successes and failures, all contribute to an individual student’s absorption and expression of teaching and instruction.

It’s the beauty of the human race. It’s this diversity of thought and expression that allows communities to thrive with creative and innovative solutions to work and life problems. That old saying “2 heads are better than one,” is truest when those “2 heads” look at the same thing is completely different ways.

Unfortunately, standardized testing does not fully embrace these learning differences. Essentially, if the proverbial “fish” and an imaginary monkey are given the same task of climbing a tree, that poor fish would be at an extreme disadvantage. Were the task to be swimming 10 laps with precision, the monkey would be out of luck, eating the bubbles of the agile fish!

So what do we do about the realities of a common testing tool, like the HSE exams when we all learn differently? We may not be able to change the exam. But we can control the way we PREPARE for the exam. We can arm ourselves with the personal study and testing skills we need to succeed!

Check out this article on Making Learning Personal to obtain practical tips and tools to personalize your approach to study. Looking at life through a different lens isn’t always a bad thing…it can be a gift. It’s just that fish weren’t meant to climb trees!


Essential Education creates personalized learning plans for the adult learner. You can succeed. We can help!

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