After returning from Rural Health & Safety Day held earlier this month, I cannot get humane education out of my mind.  This event was held at Alparon Park in Troy, PA and hosted 800 fifth grade students from 11 school districts. This event focuses on saving lives by teaching safety on a variety of topics from dog bite prevention to addiction.   After participating in this event for the last four years, a common theme presents itself: teachers appreciate the focus on safety as it is not always something that is touched upon in class. 

Why not?                                             

While I understand the implications that the stronghold of No Child Left Behind has inflicted, it causes me to wonder if many important facets of necessary skills and humanity are left behind.   Empathy, critical thinking, and problem solving are necessary for success after schooling and essential for a sustainable world. 

Reading, writing, and arithmetic are the foundations, of course, but how can we make it relevant to students’ lives while incorporating deeper rooted cognition as well as social emotional learning?  With the trend to educate the whole child as well as the anti-bullying movement, there is a need for a type of schooling that builds critical thinking skills and prosocial behaviors.   Humane education serves as a strategy for large-scale change in the quality of people’s and animal’s lives by teaching empathy and compassion while recognizing the interconnectedness we have with the environment. 

Humane education can be incorporated into any subject within the classroom for very little cost.   From writing letters to legislators in English class, to exploring the spread of a zoonotic disease in science, humane education can be used to teach the fundamental skills while transforming children into people who can solve some of the world’s largest concerns. 

The Institute for Humane Education believes that humane education is the key to ensuring that through our daily choices, work and acts of citizenship; we make choices that do the most good and least harm for ourselves, other people, animals, and the earth.

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