Against a student’s slate of classes that includes Hamlet’s potential suicide, the Holocaust, entropy, La Biographie de Robespierre, and the rules of trapezoids, humane education allows students to connect with the world that the archetypal graduation speakers say they “will inherit.”Read the complete essay.
President Barack Obama promised five million new green-collar jobs would rise out of this challenged economy, where survival seems to depend upon sustainable practices. The unlikely “Blue Green Alliance” between United Steelworkers and The Sierra Club underscores this. According to Executive Director Dave Foster, “It’s not a question of jobs or the environment. It’s both or neither.” When problems are conceived in absolute terms, critical thinking skills give way to bipartisan ruts. Humane education involves the sort of integrated thinking that promotes such “win-win” alliances and allow the most good and cause the least harm.
A lesson on urban transportation, for instance, considers not only the health of the local environment, but also that of the people who are commuting. It considers the quality of life for those who live near streets with high traffic volumes and whether urban planners could introduce healthier modes of transit. It takes the immediate problem of the danger a child might have in crossing the street and asks this student to re-vision — literally, drawn on paper — a viable, safer model. This one lesson, then, can enlighten the student about a wardrobe of green collar options: urban planning, environmental justice, alternative energies, public transportation advocacy, or architecture. No matter how beautiful The Great Gatsby is, it can’t do this.
For a humane world,
Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDx talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"
Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to the RSS feed.