Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Infusing Standard Curricula with Humane Education

Excerpt From: “The Power and Promise of Humane Education” by Zoe Weil
Shared for the purposes of educational research. Annotated with links to online lesson plans. More Humane EDU resources at: and

Infusing Standard Curricula with Humane Education

·      Choose literature that explores humane themes (that is, themes like “compassion,” “courage,” “kindness,” “integrity,” “honesty,” “perseverance).
·      Provide writing assignments that ask students to explore how individuals can live with respect for other people. Animals, and the Earth.
·      Analyze and compare written materials for bias, distortions, assumptions, and stereotypes.
·      Offer themes such as “justice,” “compassion,” “kindness,” or “integrity” for writing assignments.
·      Ask students to respond in writing and orally to questions offering moral dilemmas and to suggest solutions to ethical quagmires.
·      Have students write about the humane education activities described in …
Social Justice and Language Arts article:

·      Study movements for social change and their effects on society, government, and culture, such as the civil rights movement, the suffragist movement, or the current movements to end human slaver and protect animals.
·      Analyze themes of justice, fairness, rights, and responsibilities as they pertain to human cultures, animals, and the environment.
·      Explore global issues such as the population explosion, the destruction of resources and wealth, sustainable living, and poverty.
·      Examine prejudices such as racism, sexism, heterosexism, specie-ism, classism, and jingoism.
·      Plan class/student visualizations to build empathy and appreciation for others.
·      Show social change videos and analyze their messages and content…
·      Analyze advertising for cultural messages…
·      Use the Choices, True Price, Greatest Impact, Behind the Scenes, and Which to Pick? Activities… to analyze and assess the effects of personal choices on oneself and others.
·      Offer the activity “What Is a Humane Life?” for students to explore positive social impacts of behavior.
·      Use activities such as Cast Your Vote and Executive Commission to promote citizenship. and
·      Compare historical accounts of human slavery to current practices of animal slavery (see Kevin Bale’s “Disposable People”).
·      Watch films that explore a range of historical atrocities (e.g. the Holocaust, genocide in Rwanda) and discuss how these atrocities could have been prevented.
·      Read historical accounts of different cultures and compare the philosophies and ideologies of different societies to answer the question, “How can people live sustainably and peace-ably?”
Numerous Social Justice Lesson Plans are cataloged at:

·      Analyze the effects of, and explore solutions t, various ecological threats (e.g. global warming, resource depletion, growing ozone holes, pollution).
·      Teach principles of ecology through analyzing lifestyle choices in relation to sustainability.
·      Study life through nonviolent ethology (the study of animal behavior) rather than dissection of purposefully killed animals, and use computer programs, models, and photographs to learn anatomy.
·      Study the chemistry of pollution and assess clean-up needs, including measurement of water and air pollution in the neighborhood of your school.
·      Read texts that explore animal behavior (through nonviolent ethological methods), such as those of Jane Goodall or Dr. Mark Beckoff.
·      Create an organic school garden and composting system.
·      Use web-of-life activities that demonstrate the impact on the entire web of seemingly individual stresses.
·      Analyze the effects of personal product, food, and transportation choices on water, air, land, and resources through activities such as True Price and Behind the Scenes. and
·      Analyze the impact of trash, using the Trash Investigators activity.
·      After completing a Council of All Beings, ask students to do a report on the being of whom they spoke.

·      Use the “ecological footprint” assessment to analyze human impact on the environment (see Mathis Wackernagel and Wiliam Ree’s “Our Ecological Footprint”). Ecological Footprint Quiz
·      Conduct math problems based on real-world data as opposed to fabricated data, for example by calculating the population growth of humans.
·      Calculate energy and/or water use in school or home at determine ways to decrease energy use.
·      Study issues of population by learning key topics such as exponential version geometric growth (see People and the Planet, edited by Pamela Wasserman).
·      Analyze population issues in relation to dogs and cats who are not spayed/neutered.
·      Do the math behind the production of things (see the activity Behind the Scenes).
·      Do a cost/benefit analysis of the choices offered in the activities Choice Cards or Which to Pick? and
Note: Also see Radical Math for many lesson plans:

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