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The Vegan Grandmother’s Guide to Humane Education

Posted by at 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)


The Vegan Grandmother's Guide to Humane Education by Michelle RiveraWhenever I hear of an animal ordinance, statute, or law that gives protections or special considerations to animals, I always think of the activists who came before me in order to bring about that legislation. For example, I know that a law we have here in Florida prohibiting untethered dogs in the back of pick-up trucks only exists because some activists worked very hard to get the county commissioners to pass that legislation. I silently thank those committed souls and seek inspiration from them.

But it disappoints me terribly when these laws are ignored. I think of the unnamed people who worked with legislators, wrote letters, and made phone calls, only to have a law passed and never used. In fact, the example above is one such law. I see dogs in the back of pick-up trucks all the time and nary a ticket written. But what disturbs me most is the piece of legislation mandating humane education in the schools. It sits on the books collecting dust, as it were.

In my book, Canines in the Classroom, I discuss the many states that have passed laws mandating that humane education be taught in the classroom. In Florida, there is not only a state statute but also a county ordinance requiring that humane education be part of the school curriculum. But I know that it is not being taught in the schools, and even though I have ranted and raved to my county commissioners, the school board, and anyone else who would listen, this law sits quietly undisturbed, unused, and inactive.

So what can you do about this? Plenty! First, learn if humane education is on the books in your state. If it is not, you have your work cut out for you. If it is, you can jump right in.

Become a substitute teacher so that you can bring humane education lesson plans into the classroom. If you have a child or grandchild in school, think about becoming a school volunteer and offer to do some animal-friendly programs in the classroom. PETA’s “Share the World” lesson plan, with its fascinating video and follow-up materials, makes it very easy for everyone, even those who are shy about speaking in front of groups. Humane educators have an abundance of resources available through a variety of organizations, and if you express an interest in becoming a humane educator, you will have more than enough support. You may even want to go to your local animal shelter or humane society and offer to be a humane-education volunteer. One of my favorite things to do is assist after-school program directors in setting up animal clubs or, in the case of high schools, animal rights clubs.

And, as always, look for teachable moments when you are with your own kids or grandkids. Discuss animal stories that are on the news. The story about the chimpanzee who attacked a friend can help you educate your kids on how exotic “pets” are never a good idea. Stories such as these are abundant. If you see an injured bird or a stray dog and you help that animal, think about what you are teaching the kids in your life. These lessons will last a lifetime, and your good deed will be multiplied when that kid turns around and does the same thing someday, maybe in front of his or her own child.

Humane education is the closest thing we have to insurance for a brighter future for animals. Those who are taught to be kind to animals will grow up to be more compassionate and empathetic adults. And that’s what the world needs now.

How have you taught the children in your life to be kind to animals? Share your best experiences with us.

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8 Comments

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    Lindsey Smith says...

    March 20th, 2009, 12:44 pm

    Very nice article

    Stephanie says...

    March 20th, 2009, 7:21 pm

    You are exactly right! A better future for our animals definitely starts with our children. I am a part-time substitute teacher and I always try to talk to children about animals when I am in the classroom.

    Yvonne Thompson says...

    March 20th, 2009, 8:32 pm

    Hello, Michelle! Thank you for your comments. I, personally, feel that it is mainly through education that we can effect changes in the way we relate both to other animals, and to the planet which supports all of us. Those of us “adults” can pass laws, and attempt to have them enforced. That all helps. But until we can change the consciousness of the general public, it is still a struggle. Hopefully, upcoming generations will grow up with increased awareness of the connectedness of all life on the planet, and the necessity of saving the “web of life” which supports us all…..Yvonne

    Jamie Rivet says...

    March 21st, 2009, 1:02 am

    I was just thinking of this very topic recently. When I was a kid there were several times that I was mean to animals, and for no reason. Sadly, I am sure this is quite common, especially among young boys. Now I am vegan and active in animal rights, and the things I did haunt me regularly. I wonder: if I had been raised to value and appreciate all creatures, I probably would not have hurt any animals. It is not that my parents taught me to abuse animals, but there was no emphasis on being kind to them. And my parents were very normal; I don’t think many kids were taught to be kind to animals. Some kids may do it naturally, but they are very special. Unfortunately I wasn’t. I hope that in the future it becomes routine to educate children about non-violence to all creatures.

    Jennifer Marcus says...

    March 21st, 2009, 2:18 pm

    Hello Michelle, I loved your article and appreciate everything you do to help educate our children and try so desperately to keep our animals from harms way.

    Kay Heisler says...

    March 21st, 2009, 5:16 pm

    Hi Michelle,
    I think your article is wonderful. It is truly a shame that academic test taking skills have become THE MOST IMPORTANT focus in schools across the nation. In doing this, we have lost the important concept that it is our responsibility as educators to balance the academic focus with the social and emotional nurturing of our children.

    K. jPhillips says...

    March 22nd, 2009, 12:32 am

    I always enjoy reading your articles, Michelle, and the ideas you bring forth. You are absolutely right that humane education in the classroom is so important, now more than ever. Many children in today’s society are not taught these values at home by their parents.

    Study Arts in London says...

    July 22nd, 2009, 8:15 am

    I am very much appreciate on this article.

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