Humane Education
by Diana George

(tenth article)

I recently returned from a week long national animal rights conference in California. I met many people from around the country and around the world. There were people filled with anger and there were people filled with compassion. All want to make a difference and see a change in the way humans treat and think of animals ~ from companion animals to farmed animals to wild animals.

I felt great discomfort, disbelief and sadness for those filled with anger. I was inspired and uplifted by those filled with compassion. Three of those compassionate and inspiring people gave a workshop on humane education. Without placing judgment and in a non-threatening way humane education comes from a place of compassion. Humane educators encourage critical thinking, so that each and every one of us can decide for ourselves and make conscious choices based on knowledge, research and what we believe is the right thing to do. Our choices do matter.

In our last article we touched on the subject of humane education. Humane education was recognized in America as early as 1933 when the National PTA Congress issued the following statement:

“Children trained to extend justice, kindness, and mercy to animals become more just, kind, and considerate in their relations with each other. Character training along these lines will result in men and women of broader sympathies, more humane, more law-abiding – in every respect more valuable citizens. Humane education is teaching in the schools and colleges of the nations the principles of justice, goodwill, and humanity toward all life. The cultivation of the spirit of kindness to animals is but the starting point towards that larger humanity which includes one’s fellow of every race and clime. A generation of people trained in these principles will solve their international difficulties as neighbors and not as enemies.”

Humane education has evolved over the years to a place of teaching critical thinking and inspiring compassion and respect for all ~ not just for our family and friends but for all humans; not just for our companion animals but for all non-human animals; not just for our own homes and land but the Earth itself.

According to the International Institute for Humane Education there are 4 important elements of humane education:

1. Provide accurate and clear information ~ humane education takes a look at information that is not readily available on television or in mainstream publications.

2. Encourage the 3 C’s: Compassion, Creativity and Critical thinking ~ humane educators foster curiosity, compassion and creativity, as well as teach critical thinking skills so that students will do their own research and explore the truth for themselves.

3. Instill the 3 R’s: Reverence, Respect and Responsibility ~ humane educators inspire reverence and respect through classroom and outdoor activities.Students then learn responsibility when they turn their reverence and respect into action.

4. Provide sustainable, humane and life affirming choices ~ by offering positive, healthy and sustainable options to students through activities and demonstration, they learn that their personal choices really do matter.

If we hope to induce favorable changes in the world, could there be any better way than by our own example and by educating ourselves and our children through humane education? By fostering compassion and respect for all living beings we can be the change we wish to see in the world.

It is up to us as concerned individuals, parents and educators to see that humane education is considered and included as an integral part of our children’s education. If you are interested in supporting a humane education program please contact me.

Diana is a co-founder of Rays of Hope and can be contacted

Back to Voice for the Animals list