Humane Education involves imparting facts, as well as sensitizing students and educators to the various social philosophies, attitudes and behaviors humans exhibit towards the other animals which share our planet. Humane Education aims to help students understand the ethical dilemmas generated by different philosophies. Programs strive to help students make informed judgments and take compassionate action. Humane Education also encourages critical thinking and problem solving as a necessary means of dealing effectively with the issues raised.
Instruction aims to influence students on cognitive, affective and behavioral levels- that is knowledge, feelings and actions. Topics in humane education typically include companion animals, "wild" or free-roaming animals, animals used in education or research and their alternatives, animals raised on farms, nutrition and a healthy, compassionate lifestyle.
The importance of human empathy and responsibility in improving the quality of life we share with each other and all living beings is stressed by educators, child-advocates and animal-advocates alike. Respect for animals and the environment are important educational objectives. Also important is inclusion of animal welfare/rights and environmental philosophies as part of schooling in our pluralistic, democratic society.
Humane Education materials can readily be blended with reading, writing, science, music and art programs. Humane Education does not have to be taught as a separate subject in an already busy school day. Numerous resource organizations can provide reasonable priced materials suitable for use in primary and secondary schools. Information about local veterinary options including low-cost and/or free spay, neuter and inoculation programs for cats and dogs will help turn the rhetoric of classroom lessons into meaningful realities.
Two Humane Science Project Manuals have been designed to support educators in developing science units which reflect a humane ethic:
Humane science lessons and projects meet at least one of the following objectives:
- Promote greater understanding of other species.
- Encourage more humane treatment of animals.
- Encourage a greater respect for the intrinsic value and worth of animals.
- Illustrate the relationship between human well-being, environmentalism and the interests of animals.
- Create models of non-intrusive, productive animal research through natural (non-manipulative) observations.
- Foster the study of threatened or endangered species in non-laboratory settings.
- Document research that advances human health without harming animals.
If animals are studied, it should be through naturalistic observations only.
- No animal should be procured specifically for this project. The location(s) of the animals(s) both before and after the project must be documented.
- Invasive, manipulative, or intrusive studies may not be conducted.
- The animals' fundamental biological and social needs must not be disturbed in any way. For example, a project which denies food to an animal is not acceptable. However, one in which an animal is offered a choice of species-appropriate foods would be acceptable.
- Projects involving classroom pets are not acceptable.
If alternatives are employed:
- Models, computers, and other technology may bed used to simulate animals or relationships between animals and the environment,
- Epidemiological or human case studies may be used.