Peace Day education conference, a win-win for students and animals
“I don’t like those mean people killing elephants for their ivory tusks.”
This comment I received a few months ago in a note from a first grader in California reminded me how easy it is to marginalize “those mean people”, yet how vital it is, if we hope to change them, that we find ways to respect and engage people whose positions or behaviors we don’t understand or like very much.
This theme was echoed in keynote addresses by Jane Goodall and Arun Ghandi, grandson of Mahatma Ghandi, at the conference, Educating for a Just, Peaceful and Sustainable World, which was convened as part of UN Peace Day Celebrations in NYC last week and attended by some 500 educators, students and thought leaders in humane education.
Marc Bekoff, who joined me to co-present one of the conference workshops, wrote in The Animal Manifesto: “I want to appeal to people who don’t agree with me, rather than preach to the converted, because that is where real change occurs.”
In my world, as director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s international Animal Action Education program, which engages educators and students in more than 20 countries, peace means promoting common values towards animals and our shared environment while respecting differences in attitudes and beliefs from person to person, community to community and culture to culture.
This applies to educators, students and parents too. Forget about what we want to say. What do they need to hear? What benefits does IFAW’s Animal Action Education program bring in terms of the interests, point of view and priorities of the education professionals we most want to reach?
Too busy to teach anything other than reading, writing and arithmetic?
I understand. We’ve got what you need.
Focused on grade point averages and achievement test scores
Okay, we can help.
Looking for global perspectives, arts integration, bully prevention?
We have that too.
Our newest educational program, Cats, Dogs and Us, offers it all: lessons, text, video and student activities that:
- link closely to core curricula outcomes in language arts, science, social studies and other subjects;
- build empathy, respect, and critical thinking;
- incorporate proven approaches that support high academic achievement, less youth violence and more engaged students.
It’s a win-win program for students and animals. Spread the word.