Pictured, the Dog, the Dog and Owner, an actual lion - image from MSN.com
A shop owner, in Norfolk, VA has a pet, the breed is usually known as a “Labradoodle” – or one of the breeds designated as a designer dog. They are mainly affable, energetic and make a great family pet. The owner, also a college sports fan, had his dog, Charles the Monarch, groomed with a lion cut. The dog looks adorable (see photo). The lion cut is also common grooming for a variety of breeds – a fact not lost on most dog owners or those who have watched a bit of programming on a variety of networks – for example: The Animal Planet. Charles has become an overnight sensation, since those living in Norfolk called the police to report a lion sighting. There were several calls made, using the 911 system, where individuals reported seeing a “baby lion” which, these individuals deduced, must have escaped from a local zoo. It’s a cute and funny story, until…one realizes that adults who have been through the education system cannot recognize the difference between two common animals. Obviously, something went missing along their elementary and secondary school careers - science and geography.
One would imagine that most people would be able to tell the difference between a dog and a cat, or a dog and a lion – but, perhaps not. There was a time, long ago, when schools taught basic geography, and the sciences included a segment on the variety of life that exists on this planet. In addition to the general class studies, there were also the occasional assemblies, where a student required written parental approval, to watch a “movie” that depicted – life in the wild. Generally, these films were regarding animal behavior and culture that existed in other countries. One was given the opportunity to learn how a lion behaved in the wild. Every student was expected to attend, unless of course, there might have been a proclivity to avoid violence (thus the parental approval required). The violence was in the form of the given animal portrayed in a film, ability to catch and kill their lunch. Gruesome, but a life’s lesson. Few missed the assembly, or any classes for that matter, and came away knowing the difference between a domestic animal and a wild animal. Those students understood the difference between a horse and a zebra. The United States of America has a world-class educational system.
Fast forward several decades and one finds a curriculum in most schools that does not include history or geography, or culture, rather a combined overview entitled “Social Studies”. This mainly covers indigenous tribes that were murdered upon the arrival of Columbus, the rain forests and global warming, the isms (Sexism, Ageism), social justice, and economic justice and so on. There is little room in that curriculum to teach children about basics. Which, said basics, allow individuals to be able to tell the difference between a lion and a dog.
Call it old fashioned, call it “Conservative”, call it unnecessary - seriously, how many people will ever really need to know the difference between a lion and a dog? That’s the same argument used for decades when it came to learning – Algebra. Really, who uses this stuff in the “real world” - until.
One who is familiar with dogs might not expect the average person, not to appear shocked when they walk up to an adorable beagle, and the beagle bays! “I thought that was a beagle, but what kind of dog is that?!!! – One has to explain that the “bay” is the Beagle’s “voice”. That they do not “bark” like other dogs. That’s a detail, but at the least, they recognize that the Beagle is a dog. Perhaps that is why, for eons, Massachusetts has been known for having a grand educational system in comparison to the rest of the nation. When one looks at the stats from the State’s 4 year graduation rate, Massachusetts does fairly well, with only 50 or so districts showing a rate under 70% - out of approximately 320 someone districts. One might suggest that those statistics should look more like 98% of all districts – which, apparently is a statistic from the past, along with the ability to tell a lion from a dog.
That said watching late night NBC Network’s, Jay Leno and the segment entitled “Jay-Walking” one understands that perhaps this is the new norm. Although done in jest, the questions posed are easy enough for a child to know, however, the teachers, students, and others who participate, clearly have no clue. We, as a nation, celebrate the fact that we as a nation, know more about a given celebrity of the week, than about who the Vice President of the United might be(in the later case, immediately following the process of voting. Therefore, knowing the difference between a dog and a lion – well, how important is that in the grander scheme of things?
Read the comments section from the article: Norfolk 911 calls for 'baby lion' turn up a coiffed dog” - This really is a funny story – in a very sad way.