Learning Like An Elephant

In Thailand, observant natives noted how elephants liked to scratch the ground with sticks. Someone came up with the brilliant and creative idea to exchange the stick for a paint brush and the ground with a canvas. Take a look at the result:

Over varying amounts of time, one trainer painstaking teaches an elephant to replicate a painting. Do you remember the simile about memory you learned in elementary school? Someone may be referred to as having a memory like an…elephant. That’s right! Just as elephants can be trained to remember the moves for circus acts, they can be taught to remember the strokes for picture compositions.

Elephants are color blind, so the trainer puts the appropriate brush with the desired color into its trunk. And it takes it from there.


Some paintings are even done while the elephants are listening to music.

Although each elephant learns to paint one picture, sometimes there is that one that seems to have an artistic streak, like Suda. She produces more than one picture and has even learned to sign her name.


Elephants have no idea what they are doing yet produce these works of art. If trainers can train dumb elephants to paint such absolutely beautiful pictures, can you imagine what we can teach our intelligent children to accomplish – if we only invested a similar amount of time and effort like these elephant trainers did?


There is one variable in the painting scene that goes unnoticed by the onlookers. Did you see that the trainers never left their elephant’s side? Not only do they provide the paint on brushes, but they also guide the elephant’s trunk by gently pulling its ear to determine the direction of the stroke.


Similarly, parents, you can observe your children’s strengths, use those gifts to propel them to success and remain by their sides as advocates in an educational system where only the strong survive.

Question: What one thing has this video inspired you to do to help your child succeed?

Florence is the mother of an amazing teenager; an educational consultant, author, speaker, speech-language pathologist, encourager and perpetual optimist. She shares tips, tools and resources with mothers (and other caregivers) of struggling and/or failing children. She is fiercely committed to helping them develop and enhance their children's foundational skills for learning, to grow them to success in school and life. A believer in the unique learning abilities of all children, she is an advocate for those who learn differently.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

9 thoughts on “Learning Like An Elephant

  1. Hi Flo – my kids are adults now, 29 & 26. For the most part, I mentored and guided them. My role as their parent was to teach them to become responsible, reliable, resourceful, and self-reliant. One lives in Ireland, the other in Colorado. I think I did OK 🙂

    Great video!!

    • Sophie, I was amazed at that too. If someone can take the time to teach an elephant to sign her name, why not our children? There are so many children who may be able to sign their names, but their penmanship is awful and they form the letters incorrectly.

  2. I never cease to be amazed at how intelligent and connected so many large animals are. And they thrive with the correct feedback and encouragement, just like humans. Great story!

  3. I really enjoyed the video. Elephants are amazing animals and they are so intelligent, research has shown that their brains function very similarly to humans’ and they have the ability to feel the same emotions as us. Please do not call them ‘dumb’ and say that they ‘have no idea what they are doing’ because that is quite untrue and they are extremely smart. 🙂