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The Curriculum


As we have seen, the ultimate objective for the widespread introduction of humane education is its specific inclusion in the National Curriculum.

The objective of education is not only to provide intellectual development, but also to promote moral/ethical and cultural development. For example, the objective set out in the UK Education Reform Act of 1988 is to:

"Promote spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and prepare them for adult life".

Humane education has an essential role to play in providing the moral education desirable in developing children into considerate, responsible adults. Although most governments would acknowledge the importance of a moral dimension to education, few put into practice any real mechanisms to ensure this is actually delivered. One of the most valuable tasks an animal protection organization can perform is to work towards establishing humane education as an integral part of the ongoing school curriculum, convincing governments, school authorities and teachers that humane education is vital to society.

Humane education as part of the curriculum would encompass lessons such as environmental awareness, citizen education and animal protection. An important part of the process of getting humane education formally built into the education system is the development of consolidated course materials covering all of these areas. Commitment to humane education is often a big strength within animal societies and there are excellent and plentiful materials already available in this area to be used as a basis for the animal protection course modules.

The education could readily be developed and presented in a way that enables the children to reach their own conclusions, rather than as indoctrination, offering different viewpoints and philosophies. As Konrad Lorenz, an eminent behaviorist pointed out a vital function of education is “the presentation, to maturing humans, of sufficiently abundant and varied material facts to make it possible for them to perceive all the values associated with the beautiful and the ugly, the good and the bad, the healthy and the sick".

As we have seen, until the aim is realized whereby humane education is given a place of its own in the National Curriculum, there is scope for its introduction through other subjects and cross-curricula themes. However, it should be stressed that humane education is an advanced, all-encompassing discipline (more so than environmental education), so appending it to these lessons is not desirable in the long-term. The best results in this field have been achieved through a dedicated place in the curriculum, with official support for teacher training development and course materials.

As Yehudi Menuhin said:

“Why is compassion not part of our established curriculum, an inherent part of our education? Compassion, awe, wonder, curiosity, exaltation, humility - these are the very foundation of any real civilization, no longer the prerogatives of any one church, but belonging to everyone, every child in every home, in every school".

Strategic advocacy is needed to achieve the inclusion of humane education in the curriculum. There is also more about this in the section on ‘Strategic Approaches’.

A useful resource is World Animal Protection’s Suggested Syllabus (which is for animal welfare education).

This includes: suggested animal protection issues to be covered; suggested educational resources covering for these; and suggestions for linking animal issues into other curriculum subjects.

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