I have had more than several conversations with people of late who are interested in getting further involved with humane education. Some of you are quite serious about it, sitting a little straighter and getting a little louder as you state your goal, that, “Yes, I’m going to be a humane educator, and I’m already looking into how!” But others of you say it a little more hunched over-like, kind of looking into the horizon, head tilted and voice soft, as if it were a dream deferred: “Golly gee, it would be great to go into classrooms and teach kids about compassion…” Well, okay, maybe you don’t say “golly gee.” But aren’t you impressed with how astutely I notice posture?
Regardless of how serious you have been when you have proclaimed your desire to get ’em while they’re young, you can’t deny the power that comes with going into the classroom, and actually planting seeds in kids’ hearts and minds (and sometimes rooftop gardens) that will grow into the awareness that compassion is the way of the future, or there will be no future (Exit Debby Downer).
Well, golly gee, it turns out that humane education is not just for teachers anymore! In other words, if you’re reading this and you’re not a teacher — or even if you are — you, too, can save the world one tot at a time. Thanks to the heartfelt, heartwarming, and heart-attack-sparing people at HEART (that’s Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers), you have the opportunity to be trained to implement humane education in schools. Though these trainings have been happening, and will continue to happen, all over the country, the upcoming one will be in the City of Roses — Portland, Oregon. Regardless of whether you are in this Vegan Mecca of the United States or not, pay close attention, because the advocacy tool of your dreams is in your reach.
Entitled The Humane Education Project, this altruistic undertaking is a joint public service program of the Animal Law Committee of the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, along with HEART. Mariann is actually the former chair of the aforementioned committee, as is the wildly talented Meena Alagappan — who is also HEART’s Executive Director — and was featured a couple years ago on our little ol’ podcast.
The next training session for The Humane Education Project, which is totally free (save your cash for tofu!), was only going to be open to lawyers and law students. But in an effort to make more widely available the tremendous resources the program will offer, the organizers have recently broadened the scope of it, and it is now also being offered to “educators and concerned citizens.” That’s me! I’m the latter! I’m a concerned citizen! Are you? Areyouareyouareyou?
Here is some of the verbiage about the program’s intent (it is recommended that you read it out loud in a British accent, or, if you already have a British accent, go for a South Carolina one, just for shits and giggles):
The primary objective of the Humane Education Program is to cultivate compassion and empathy in young people toward animals and foster respect for the environment. This free training will be placing a special emphasis on issues connected to companion, farmed and wild animals, such as puppy mills, dog fighting, overpopulation, factory farms, global warming, habitat destruction and pollution. Participants will be provided with teaching skills, lesson plans and follow up guidance on implementing humane education into Portland schools. To register, contact Meena at alagappan.meena [at] gmail [dot] com or Dani at dani [at] teach humane [dot] org.
The truth is, we all have to care about humane education. If we care about fostering a compassionate, kind, and proactive next generation, the lessons learned in programs like these are absolutely essential — and they are lessons we can bring to others, thus significantly expanding our circles of possibility.
Several years ago, I was lucky enough to attend a Sowing Seeds workshop, which is a similar training program put on by the Institute for Humane Education. My career since then has evolved greatly, though always remained centered around animal rights. Without question, the tools I learned during that tremendously useful weekend have stayed with me, and I do indeed implement much of what I learned as I travel the country with Mariann giving talks on veganism and activism. So even if you are not yet sure if your future involves directly going into classrooms and teaching humane education, attend The Humane Education Project anyway. It’s free, and it might just change your life. Beyond that, it might — by way of your decision to attend — change the lives of a few kids. And it is those kids who might just change the world.
The next training session of The Humane Education Project will take place at Lewis & Clark Law School on October 6, 2012 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Be there or be in the dark forevermore. (Okay, slight exaggeration. But go!) Also be sure to read more about the humane education training (and other programs) that HEART offers, and sign up for their newsletter.
You’ve gotta have HEART!