The Bear That Went to School©

Something scary happened one morning in a small countryside schoolhouse. A young bear came out of the nearby forest and walked into one of the classrooms. The teacher and the children were frightened and tried to get out of his way.

“Don’t be afraid of me,” said the young bear. “I won’t hurt anyone.”

“Well,” said the teacher, Mrs. Green, “why are you not in the woods with your family?”

“Because,” said the bear, “I am soon going to be three years old, and all bears have to leave home and go out into the world by the age of three.”

“But why did you come to our school?” she asked.

“I need to learn more if I am going to be a good bear,” he replied.

“And what have you learned so far?” she questioned.

“Oh,” said the bear, “I have learned a lot about the woods and how to listen. You see, bears have good ears and are good listeners.”

“But this is a school for people, not animals,” said Mrs. Green.

The children began to join in. “Please, Mrs. Green, please let the bear come to school. He won’t cause any trouble.”

“You must understand, children,” she replied, “people follow rules. Bears are wild animals, and wild animals do not follow rules.”

The bear quickly replied, “I can learn to follow rules. Remember, bears are good listeners.”

The teacher thought for a moment. “Well,” she said, “I’ll let you stay for just one day. But remember, you must follow our rules.”

The class became excited. They all began to shout, “Thank you for letting the bear stay, Mrs. Green!”

Mrs. Green then turned to the bear and said, “You see how the children thanked me? We always say ‘thank you’ when people do nice things for us. That is one of our most important rules.”

“Gee,” said the bear, “if all the animals said things like that, we wouldn’t fight so much.”

“That’s right,” said Mrs. Green. “That’s why we have rules. Rules help us get along and be fair with each other. You see, when someone does not follow rules, trouble starts.”

The bear then asked, “How many rules are there, Mrs. Green?”

“Nobody knows,” she replied. “You just have to listen and learn as you go from place to place.”

“And what rules must I learn to stay here in school?” he asked.

“Well,” replied Mrs. Green, “we follow many rules here. But you only have to learn a few today. This is the first rule. You must sit at the back of the room, be very quiet, and just listen, because listening is what learning is all about.”

“Well, that’s easy,” said the bear. “I’m going to be the best listener in the class.”

He then hurried to the back of the room but suddenly stopped and shouted, “But what if I have a question to ask?”

Mrs. Green replied, “You must raise your hand until I speak to you. Then you can ask the question.”

“This is fun,” said the bear, and he quickly raised his hand.

“Do you have a question to ask already?” she asked.

“Yes,” replied the bear. “If I follow the rules today, can I come back to school tomorrow?”

All the children laughed, and so did Mrs. Green. And here is what happened thereafter: The bear came to school several times and learned a lot about rules. Then he went back in the woods. But not long after, he became famous by meeting the president of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt. It so happened the president was on a hunting trip with friends. Other members of the hunting party captured the young bear and brought him to the president as a prize to shoot. But the president refused to harm the defenseless bear. He told the men he followed a rule not to shoot an animal that could not defend itself.

Soon, newspapers and magazines across the country carried stories about president Teddy Roosevelt and his rule that saved the bear’s life. And from that time on, which was the year 1902, toy makers throughout the world started calling such stuffed animals “teddy bears.”

Rules are the tools we use in schools.

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