Document Type

White Paper

Publication Date

1-2012

Abstract

Formal educators (those with formal education degrees versus informal educators who may work in shelters or nature centers) in the K-12 system are tasked with facilitating academic, character, and social and emotional learning in the classroom. As part of this learning, the teaching of critical thinking revolving around and reinforcement of “kindness . . . care and compassion towards” people, animals, and the environment and the interconnection among the three can work to prevent needless suffering and create community building attitudes (Selby, 1995, p. 7). Based upon knowledge of state mandates involving humane education, the Humane Literacy Coalition (HLC) was formed to study basic educator knowledge of humane education and their understanding of mandates concerning humane topics. HLC was also formed to review the creation and potential use of humane education benchmarks on the part of formal educators. HLC hypothesized that educators were not aware of humane education nor whether humane education was required in their state. HLC also wished to learn the opinion of educators, administrators, and policy makers concerning the creation of benchmarks that would help educators to infuse humane education into standards-based work. Based on these assumptions and questions, HLC developed a questionnaire that was disseminated both at national education conferences and online. Results showed that educators, administrators, and policy makers at both elementary and secondary levels believed that all areas of humane education were important and felt that humane values were likely to be infused into the standards-based curricula. Results also showed that educators had varied levels of understanding concerning humane education and little knowledge of state requirements. Additionally, results indicated that educators and policy makers supported the utilization of humane education benchmarks when preparing lessons if such benchmarks were available. A possible implication is that teacher preparation and in-service programs are not including the concepts of humane education, and that given benchmarks for humane education, formal educators would more often include all three components of humane education in their work.