Why We Need Humane Education: Inappropriate Halloween Costume Round-Up

Image courtesy magnetbox via Creative Commons.
Yes, today is Halloween in the U.S. (Happy Halloween!) and most everyone has already chosen their costumes, but that doesn't mean we should wait until next year to talk about them.

Halloween costumes are a valuable mirror for our culture, and much of what that mirror reflects isn't really something to be proud of. It also provides us with a great opportunity to discuss issues of sexism, the sexualization of young girls, racism, heteronormativity, and other issues of exploitation, bias, and oppression. (Our friends at Teaching Tolerance have an activity for elementary-aged kids that asks them to think critically about what costumes say.)

I've come across several posts related to Halloween costumes and these issues, so below is a round-up of some of the most interesting ones:

F**k No Sexist Halloween Costumes has been compiling comparison photos of male and female versions of costumes. As you can imagine, most of the costumes for women have been "sexified" quite a bit. Yes, many women do want their femininity reflected in their costumes, but really? Sexy bacon? Slutty pilgrim? And just because you put a cape and something that looks vaguely like Darth Vader's chest panel on a very tight black dress does not make it a Darth Vader costume.

There's some argument that such "sexy" costumes are actually liberating for women and a way for them to take their power back. And that's great, if that's actually what's happening. But does it actually liberate, or does it feed the stereotypes of women as little more than objects? A complex issue that deserves exploration, especially with older students.

The Atlantic recently posted about the ethical and practical challenges of "killing sexy Halloween." As the blog's author, Eleanor Barkhorn, says, it's up to the young women to kill it, not the adults who are doing the hand-wringing. And according to author and adolescent authority Rosalind Wiseman, girls need to learn how they're being manipulated: "When Wiseman talks to girls about Halloween, she says she tries to get them to realize, 'I'm impressionable. I'm a 12-year-old girl. And you're deliberately marketing these things to me so I feel insecure and feel that I have to be this way in order to be a beautiful girl.' Harnessing adolescents' already-existing suspicion of adult authority figures is really the only way to kill sexy Halloween, according to Wiseman."

Over at Huffington Post, Jessica Samakow shares a slideshow comparing costumes for girls from decades past to today's "sexified" options. A little bit unfair comparison, but still a good springboard for discussion.

One of my favorite blogs for media literacy, sociology, and critical thinking, is Sociological Images (SI). They've compiled several of their past posts about Halloween costumes, organized by categories such as "gender" and "race and ethnicity." Good stuff.

Also from SI is this post on heteronormativity in Halloween costumes, including costumes that are meant to imply intercourse. As Lisa Wade, professor of sociology, says: "For people who aren’t heterosexual, these Halloween costumes are just one more example of how they aren’t recognized or validated by our society.  We are increasingly accepting of gay people, yet they remain marginal in our collective imagination."

 Native Appropriations blogger Adrienne K. offers a post about "Native American" costumes; her commentary on one description (*cough* lame and offensive justification *cough*) provided by a costume store is fabulous. At the end of the post, she links to several previous posts she has done on the topic of "Native" costumes.

Jenee Desmond-Harris over at The Root has a thoughtful commentary about racist costumes and the backlash against calling people out for their thoughtlessness. There's also a slideshow highlighting some of the racist costume choices offered.

And the one example of progress I saw was again from a Sociological Images post; they found that Party City offers a few guy-guy couples costumes (nothing for female couples). That may be more due to bromances than an actual acknowledgement of same-sex relationships, but it's a start.

The core issue here is that humane education could help many of these challenges disappear. Children raised to be compassionate and empathetic, to think critically and deeply about issues, and to be empowered to take positive action, wouldn't grow up to be older children and adults who make costume choices that are racist, sexist, or exploitative. They wouldn't grow up to create such costumes. They wouldn't grow up to defend such costume choices. The would grow up to help create a culture of which we could all be proud.

~ Marsha

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed.


You have read this article costumes / critical thinking / discrimination / Halloween / humane education / mindfulness / Racism / sexism / sexualization with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/why-we-need-humane-education.html. Thanks!

Artist Robert Shetterly Unveils Newest American Who Tells the Truth: Zoe Weil

On Saturday, October 27, artist Robert Shetterly unveiled the newest portrait in his "Americans Who Tell the Truth" series, featuring IHE president, Zoe Weil. Zoe also spoke about education in the U.S. and the need to embrace a larger purpose for schooling.

Like all the portraits in his series, a quote from the portrait’s subject is etched into the painting. Zoe's quote reads:

“Education is the root system underlying all other systems. Given the grave and potentially catastrophic problems we face, it is critical that we provide young people with the knowledge, tools, and motivation to address our pressing challenges in order to transform unsustainable and unjust systems into ones that are humane, healthy, and peaceful.”


Zoe says of the portrait, “This is the greatest honor I’ve ever received, and one that I hope to live up to. Rob’s inclusion of me in the series will help bring attention to the idea that education is the root of systemic change. Rob’s whole portrait series itself serves as a model for humane education.”

Robert Shetterly has been painting the Americans Who Tell the Truth portrait series since 2001. The paintings have been traveling since 2003 and are being used in classrooms around the country to provide students with the opportunity to better understand their heritage, embrace their roles as citizens in a democracy, and, ultimately, inspire their futures. The portrait subjects are people Shetterly believes are exemplary American citizens (both historical and contemporary) and include such Americans as Abraham Lincoln, Harriett Tubman, Rachel Carson, Terry Tempest Williams, and Martin Luther King Jr., all of whom have inspired courage to act for the common good.

Here are a couple more photos from the event:

IHE president, Zoe Weil, welcomes artist Robert Shetterly.














Artist Robert Shetterly talks about Zoe Weil, his newest
addition to his Americans Who Tell the Truth series, and
highlights other education changemakers he has painted.



















A Zoe and Robert hug!





















IHE president, Zoe Weil, talks about what we must
do to transform education and create a just
and humane world for all.























Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to the RSS feed.
You have read this article artists / changemakers / citizenship / education / education reform / humane education / portraits / Robert Shetterly / systemic change / zoe weil with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/artist-robert-shetterly-unveils-newest.html. Thanks!

Humane Issues in the News

Each week we round-up the news you need to know about humane issues, from human rights and environmental preservation, to animal protection, to media and culture, to activism, education, and changemaking.


"Working to reduce food waste & protect the environment" (via Washington Post) (10/29/12)

"Is it greener to shop online?" (commentary) (via Grist) (10/29/12)

"What color is your princess?" (commentary) (via NY Times) (10/28/12)

Students to visit Haiti for reforestation project they helped design (via Education Week) (10/25/12)

CDC says U.S. teen pregnancy rate drops to lowest recorded (via Education Week) (10/25/12)

"Championing life & liberty for animals" (via NPR) (10/25/12)

"Half of American teenagers volunteer, largely because their friends do" (Chronicle of Philanthropy) (via 10/24/12)

First U.S. tar sands project approved for Utah (via SF Chronicle) (10/24/12)

"In U.S. building industry, is it too easy to be green?" (via USA Today) (10/24/12)

Study shows even with equal college experience, women tend to earn less than men (via NPR) (10/24/12)

Global meat consumption drops slightly, while production rises (via Worldwatch Institute) (10/23/12)

For first time ever antibiotic-resistant bug detected in wild animals (via Mother Jones) (10/23/12)

Study shows Americans eating their weight in GMOs (via E Magazine) (10/22/12)

"America's Top Young Scientist" creates solar-powered jug that cleans water (Good News Network) (10/22/12)

"A simple fix for farming" (commentary) (via NY Times) (10/19/12)

"New evidence that racism isn't 'natural'" (via The Atlantic) (10/17/12)

Investigation shows children's jewelry still contains toxic cadmium (via AP) (10/14/12)


Keep up with more humane issues in the news via our Facebook or Twitter pages. 

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed.   
You have read this article animal protection / changemakers / education / energy policy / environmental protection / ethical consumerism / food choices / humane education / news media / public health / Racism / Social Justice / volunteering with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/humane-issues-in-news.html. Thanks!

Confronting White Privilege

Image courtesy of EliasSchewel via Creative Commons.
When I was in school, we never talked about race or privilege.

Even the fact that more than 20% of our fellow students were Latino didn't spark any conversation about such topics. When I was in college, I had the same experience. In fact, even though I grew more aware of discrimination and inequality as I got older, I think the first time it was addressed in a class was not until my studies in humane education -- after 2.5 bachelor's degrees and a graduate degree. Even after being a classroom teacher myself. Since I hadn't been taught to discuss or explore issues of race and privilege, it never occurred to me to do so in my first years as an educator.

Privilege is one of the elephants in the room that rarely gets more than cursory attention in our schools. But it is so integral to how our society views and treats certain populations, that it's essential to explore.

In a recent article in Teaching Tolerance magazine, professor Katy Stallwell addresses the importance of  "Confronting White Privilege." As she says:

"For teachers working within homogeneous groups privileged by race and class, providing a critical multicultural education is of tremendous importance. A robust, diverse democracy depends not on self-interested, uncritical kids, but on young people who are willing to step outside of their comfort zones. To do that, students must understand how race and class influence their lives and want to work to make the world a better place."

Stallwell shares two case studies from her research on bringing issues of privilege into homogeneous classrooms of privilege. Her examples show that even the best intentioned efforts can fall short.

At the end of one class on urban history, taught in a suburban school, students were left feeling confused and without a deeper understanding of the issues and solutions. As Stallwell says, "By the end of the semester, the majority of the students advocated charity over addressing root problems. While presenting the world as either 'inside' or 'outside' the bubble ('Us' and 'Them') may fit the way these students view the suburbs, it does little to challenge how such ideas can limit their critical thinking.

In another classroom, while students may have had a better understanding intellectually, many of them were left without a deeper sense of empathy and connection for those lacking privilege.

Read the complete article.

Despite the challenges of introducing these tough topics, it's vital that we do so. For some additional ideas, check out these resources for teaching about white privilege.

~ Marsha

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed.  
You have read this article classism / critical thinking / discrimination / equality / human rights / humane education / privilege / Racism / Social Justice / white privilege with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/confronting-white-privilege.html. Thanks!

The Persistence of Life

Image copyright Zoe Weil.
Growing up in Manhattan, I always marveled at the capacity of nonhuman life to thrive in the city. For example, there was a tree a few blocks from our apartment building that had grown from a dark pit underground, up through a tight sidewalk grating, into a fully leaved and impressive canopy.

Then there were the pigeons. Pigeons are otherwise known as rock doves, originally native to wild rocky cliff regions of Europe, Northern Africa, and Asia. I’ve seen them only a few times in the wild and never very many at one time. But they’re ubiquitous in big cities across the globe, where they’ve turned highrise window ledges into nesting sites. Some people don’t much like pigeons – calling them rats with wings (rats being another denizen of cities) - but I love them. I love their various coloring, the way their heads move as they walk, and their soothing coos.

When I was recently in New York City, performing my 1-woman show, I came upon a small puddle after a rain. Bathing in the puddle were sparrows and starlings (see photo). How sweet these little birds were, careful to avoid passersby, but quick to return to the puddle for their bath and then pick up the crumbs on the ground from people’s lunches and snacks.

Life is all around us, so pervasive and persistent. Grass seeds take root in specks of soil in cracks in the sidewalk. Winged maple leaves helicopter to the street and find themselves a sandy spot to grow; and come fall, you suddenly notice them because their autumn vermilion color stands out against the grey of the street. Those trees-to-be won’t grow beyond seedlings, of course, but they remain tenacious ‘til the end.

How amazing life is.

~ Zoe


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 TEDxConejo talk: "Solutionaries"
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"
My TEDxYouth@BFS "Educating for Freedom"

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed.  


You have read this article cities / life / nature / persistence / reverence / sense of wonder / urban wildlife / wildlife with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-persistence-of-life.html. Thanks!

Humane Educator's Toolbox: "Share Spray" Video

Here's a fun little video from our friends at New American Dream and The Sharing Solution, that's useful for sparking discussion about our current consumer and economic choices, and how relationships and an economy based largely on sharing might help transform the world. See "Share Spray" here (5 min):



After watching the video students could discuss the benefits and challenges of creating a sharing economy, and develop ideas for sharing solutions in their schools, neighborhoods, and communities.

You could also pair this video with IHE's free activities such as True Price and Is What's Good for the GDP Good for Me?.

~ Marsha

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed. 
You have read this article consumerism / ethical consumerism / humane education / Most Good Least Harm / sharing / sustainable economics / systemic change / videos with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/humane-educator-toolbox-spray-video.html. Thanks!

Rethinking Schools Seeking Articles About Sexism, Gender & Sexuality in Schools

Our friends at Rethinking Schools are seeking articles from educators and students that relate "to teaching and learning about sexism, gender, and sexuality in K-12 schools." The working title is Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality. They are especially interested in "articles about classroom teaching, curriculum, and youth activism—in and out of school."

According to their email: "We hope to address gender and sexuality across the curriculum so teachers and students of all disciplines are encouraged to contribute. Other topics may include education organizing/activism, policy matters, and stories that offer historical perspectives with a connection to the present." They're not interested in academic or scholarly articles; rather, they want to hear from students and educators about their experiences related to the topic.

They're offering two examples of articles that fit the criteria they're looking for: "It's OK to Be Neither" by Melissa Bollow Tempel and "When the Gender Boxes Don't Fit," by Ericka Sokolower-Shain, and their website includes writers guidelines.

Submissions should be sent electronically (Word.doc) by January 31, 2013 to jody@rethinkingschools.org. Submissions should be no more than 4,000 words, and they are "generally interested in articles that are substantially shorter."

Find out more.


Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed.  
 
You have read this article bias / curriculum / discrimination / education / essays / gender / humane education / Rethinking Schools / sexism / sexuality / Social Justice with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/rethinking-schools-seeking-articles.html. Thanks!

My Dogs Are in the 1 Percent

The other day, when my husband and I were in the woods with our dogs, and they were joyfully running and playing and sniffing and scratching, I commented that our dogs are definitely in the 1 percent. My husband was quick to point out that they were in the .01 percent. I said, “like Warren Buffett,” and he agreed. Our dogs’ lives are just so good, and they even have live-in, full-time, free health care because my husband is a veterinarian.

It was interesting to realize what constituted life in the 1 percent for a dog. It was pretty simple. Our dogs are in the 1 percent because they live in a beautiful place where they get to run freely and play to their hearts’ content, exploring woods and fields and swimming in ponds and the ocean. They are in the 1 percent because they’re rarely left alone and have someone to pet them, brush them, feed them, and play with them every day of their lives. They are in the 1 percent because they have adequate and nutritious food and good care when they’re ill. They are in the 1 percent because they are sheltered in a home, protected from the elements, and have a comfortable place to sleep and rest. They’re in the 1 percent because they have one another and are never lonely. And they are in the 1 percent because there are just so many dogs all over the world who are abandoned, caged, abused, neglected, hungry, lonely, scared, and homeless.

Dogs don’t have very extravagant wants. Some dogs other than ours might have fancier dog beds, collars, and leashes. They might have more expensive toys or elaborate dog houses, but they aren’t in a percentage more elite than my dogs, because dogs don’t care about such things. To be in the 1 percent, all a dog needs are what’s described above.

The concept of the 1 percent and the 99 percent, made so popular and powerful by the Occupy movement would, I believe, vanish, if the 99 percent all had their basic needs met. Would we really care that someone made millions each year as long as everyone had shelter, adequate food, clean water, economic opportunity, health care, access to their energy needs, and basic freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, and petition? As long as everyone was free from abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and oppression?

I look forward to the day when we don’t pay much attention to the 1 percent because we’ll all have our needs met and all be able to pursue our dreams and all be contributing to a healthy and just world. I look forward to the day when the 99% means just this.

~ Zoe


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 TEDxConejo talk: "Solutionaries"
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"
My TEDxYouth@BFS "Educating for Freedom"

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed. 
You have read this article 1 percent / 99 percent / dogs / equity / justice / Most Good Least Harm / needs / privilege / Social Justice with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/my-dogs-are-in-1-percent.html. Thanks!

What a Humane World Looks Like: Taking on the System(s)

Note: I'm out of town for a family emergency, so please enjoy this repost from 3/18/2010. ~ Marsha
 
I've been thinking a lot about systems lately. In the "green" world there is so much emphasis on our individual choices, and it's essential that we make choices that do the most good and the least harm for ourselves, other people, other animals and the earth. But, even if we were to become model choicemakers overnight, it wouldn't be enough, because there are so many systems in place that make it difficult or impossible to make truly humane choices. We may not support those systems, but we’re still complicit in them.

Here’s an example: How many of you have a cell phone? How many of you have kids who have video game consoles? How many of you have airbags in your cars?

Now, how many of you support civil war? How about slavery? Genocide? The destruction of the environment? The killing of gorillas?

Of course we don’t – none of us does. But, there’s an ore called coltan that is used to make electronic components in products like cell phones and air bags, and one of the places that coltan is mined is the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mining coltan has contributed to civil war and genocide there, to the use of slaves (including children), to environmental destruction, and, because the miners need something to eat, they hunt gorillas for food (not to mention destroy their habitat), so there’s the decimation of another species.

We don’t want to be a part of that death and destruction, but we are because we use these products. The systems in place often don’t allow for any better alternatives (other than not using these things at all).

Yesterday I had the Tab key on my laptop replaced. A couple weeks ago it just popped off in the course of normal use, and one of the little "teeth" on the back of the key-cover broke. I contacted the company from which I purchased my laptop (fortunately, it's still under warranty) and asked them to please send me a new Tab key. Nope. Can't do it. They have to replace the entire keyboard, they said (as well as send over a tech guy to do the work). I respectfully mentioned how wasteful and ecologically destructive it is to replace the entire keyboard, when I just needed a single key-cover replaced. Sorry, that's their policy.

So, the tech guy came over yesterday and replaced the entire keyboard. Fortunately, he told me he keeps the old keyboards and finds a use for them, so mine wouldn't be going into the landfill just yet. That was a relief, but still. All that waste because of the way the system is set up.

I have two sets of friends who have been trying to adopt children for more than a year now. The system is complicated, and though it's meant to benefit the children and ensure their safety, it often means those children are left in dire circumstances for much longer. My friends have had their hopes raised and then crushed many times, because -- after a ridiculously long process -- they were told they might be able to adopt children X and Y; but then, those children are given to someone else instead. Repeat. And, it's not like anyone is intentionally trying to prevent children from finding good homes -- just the opposite. But the way the system is set up impedes that process and discourages more people from adopting.

Look at all the systems we're surrounded by: education, immigration, criminal justice, child welfare, food, housing, transportation, political, media, and so on. There are so many systems that condone and perpetuate discrimination and violence and destruction and cruelty; when you look at all our different systems, you can see how challenging it is to be able to make good choices, even when you really want to.

That's why it's so important that we who passionately want to realize a compassionate, just, sustainable world don't stop at our own choices, but strive to transform these systems, as well. Look around your community. What systems need help? Brainstorm some ideas, find some like-minded folks, and start creating a positive transformation.

A lot of my humane education work has been focused on educating and empowering the individual, but I've decided I also want to do more work in my community for systemic change. I'll keep you posted.

~ Marsha

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed.
You have read this article activism / citizenship / courage / ethics / global challenges / humane education / Most Good Least Harm / systemic change with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/what-humane-world-looks-like-taking-on.html. Thanks!

Everyone Can Do One Thing

In our graduate programs at the Institute for Humane Education, our graduate students watch quite a lot of videos. The films cover human rights, environmental preservation, animal protection, and cultural issues, and many – if not most – are difficult to sit through because they depict the grave problems we face in the world and the injustices that still need to be overcome. In order to teach about pressing global challenges and cruelties, we must understand them. In order to prepare youth to be conscientious choicemakers and engaged changemakers, we need to teach them about the challenges humans confront and the looming catastrophes we will face if we don’t act wisely. We cannot do this if we aren’t fully informed ourselves.

Yet, how can we remain hopeful, enthusiastic, positive, and optimistic if we continually expose ourselves to atrocities? This is one of the great paradoxes of being a humane educator. Currently, the new film series Half the Sky, based on the book of the same title by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, has been airing on PBS. It’s an extremely difficult film to watch. Chronicling the plight of brutalized and exploited girls and women in the world, there is little left unsaid or unseen. It is easy to watch this film and sink into despair and despondency. And for some of our humane education students this is a real danger.

And yet, as Somaly Mam, a child prostitute turned activist to stop sex trafficking and help girls who have been sold into prostitution, said in the film, “Everyone can do one thing.” If ever there was a person who could have fallen into permanent despair, here she is. Yet Somaly Mam is a paragon of determined energy, hopefulness, and action, beaming as she carries on work that exposes her to the most extreme cruelty and brutality perpetrated on children.

Everyone can do one thing. The trick is to discover what one thing one ought to do. We each have our specific concerns, our own special talents, the skills we’ve cultivated, and the things that bring us joy when we do them. Finding our “one thing” is a process of melding our concerns, talents, and passions, and discovering that sweet spot where they come together. When we do this, exposing ourselves to cruelties and atrocities is bearable, because we know we are making a difference. We are, through our actions, confirming Joan Baez' great realization: “Action is the antidote to despair.”

It’s crucial that we expose ourselves to the brutalities in the world and not turn away. It’s critical to see with our eyes what others have to endure with their bodies. It’s important, because if we don’t know, we can’t act. But just as important is that we find our one thing to do, so that our witnessing leads to positive change and leaves us empowered and joyful, not depressed and impotent. For humane educators, we bring our knowledge to others, preparing our students to be problem-solvers for a better world. There’s little as heartening as this.

~ Zoe


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 TEDxConejo talk: "Solutionaries"
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"
My TEDxYouth@BFS "Educating for Freedom"

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed. 

You have read this article activism / animal protection / changemakers / citizenship / environmental protection / global challenges / human rights / human trafficking / humane education / Social Justice / solutionaries / systemic change with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/everyone-can-do-one-thing.html. Thanks!

Education for Freedom

I’m thrilled to share my newest TEDx talk, Educating for Freedom http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2t4uSi1OwQ0&list=SPSatVjzQd2dQlWio9r-VVae4PMtz4nyaW&index=1&feature=plpp_video, just uploaded this week. Enjoy! I would be so grateful for any comments you might have which you can share on YouTube, and if you like the talk, please share it widely through your social media. Thanks so much!

~ Zoe


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 TEDxConejo talk: "Solutionaries"
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"

My TEDxYouth@BFS "Educating for Freedom"


You have read this article academic achievement / consumerism / education / environmental education / environmental protection / humane education / media literacy / natural world / nature / sense of wonder / sustainability education with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/education-for-freedom.html. Thanks!

Are You Turning People Off with the Images You Use?

As humane educators and concerned citizens, we want to make sure that we're being as effective as possible, which is why it's important that we pay attention to any research that can help us improve our methods.

A recent post by Liz Banse on the Climate Access blog explores the importance of considering any images we use when engaging with the public.

Base offers the example of climate change. The polar bear has been a major icon for bringing attention to global warming issues, but research indicates that climate activists should change their tactics:

"Iconic climate change visuals like stranded polar bears are ineffective for two reasons, explains climate image researcher Dr. Kate Manzo of the University of Auckland. The images 'make (climate change) seem far away in time and space, and are paradoxical in the way they heighten people's sense of the issue's importance while simultaneously making them feel less able to do anything about it.'"

And there's the addition that some people (especially those living close to them), consider polar bears a danger.

Banse adds, "The wrong choice of a picture can turn someone off just as much, if not more, than the wrong choice of words. The most aesthetic picture is not always the most effective, just as the most intelligent-sounding word is not always the most effective."

She shares several tidbits from current research, including:
  • The fact that we engage immediately with faces (those making direct eye contact), especially baby faces.
  • Photos of distressing situations often cause us to pull back and focus on "self-preserving behavior," especially if the viewer feels there's nothing they can do to help.
  • Showing a single victim that people can identify with works better than showing a crowd of victims.
Banse offers two of her own guidelines for considering what images to use:

1. Find ways to connect locally, so that problems don't seem "too far away."
2. Always pair "problem" images with images that are "positive, hopeful solutions-oriented images."

Read the complete post.

I saw several of these best practices in action when I attended a humane education workshop last weekend. The workshop facilitators were sharing how they teach about humane issues with elementary school students. When talking about animal cruelty, for example, they showed an age-appropriate photo of one abused dog, who was making eye contact with the viewer, and told her story. At the end of the story they showed an "after" picture of the dog to highlight her happy ending and talked about what we all can do to help more dogs have happy endings.

Research like Banse highlighted in her post reveals just how thoughtful we need to be in creating presentations, lesson plans, and other tools, and even in considering what we share on our social media sites. We need to think carefully about what words and images are going to inspire positive action, and avoid words and images that may have the opposite effect.

~ Marsha

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed. 
You have read this article activism / citizenship / climate change / effectiveness / global issues / global warming / humane education / images / motivation / social psychology with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/are-you-turning-people-off-with-images.html. Thanks!

10 Reasons to Take Your Students Outside (& the Research to Back It Up)

A lot of teachers want to offer their students experiences in the natural world, but because of strictures on curriculum, the prevalence of standardized tests, and other challenges, encounters with nature can fall into the category of "nice but not necessary."

But we know from a plethora of research that we humans desperately need that connection to nature to be healthier and happier. Tamra Willis from the Children & Nature Network (C&NN) recently shared "10 Reasons to Take Your Students Outside," which offers 10 great reasons to regularly engage students with the natural world, and includes links to research to back up each statement -- something specific you can bring to your administrator as evidence for why your students spending so much time outside is not only nice, but vital to their well-being and academic performance. The 10 reasons:

  1. Nature is everywhere!
  2. School grounds and nearby nature provide a low- to no-cost setting for effective teaching.
  3. Nature enhances academic achievement.
  4. Nature-based activities improve student behavior.
  5. Students are motivated to learn when content is connected to nature.
  6. Outdoor learning promotes communication.
  7. Students improve cooperation skills when they spend time outside.
  8. Nature helps students focus, including ADHD students.
  9. Students are healthier and happier when they spend time outside.
  10. School grounds and nearby nature provide a wonderful setting for curricular integration.
Read the complete post.

If you need some ideas for what to do outside, check out this C&NN post that offers ideas for nature-centric projects, and browse our free downloadable activities for suggestions.

~ Marsha

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed. 

You have read this article academic achievement / education / environmental education / environmental protection / humane education / natural world / nature / sense of wonder / sustainability education with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/10-reasons-to-take-your-students.html. Thanks!

What a Humane World Looks Like: Releasing the Things that No Longer Serve You

This post is by contributing blogger Lynne Westmoreland, long-time music instructor and a humane educator. Lynne is a graduate of our M.Ed. program, and is the instructor for our online course, A Better World, A Meaningful Life, which is designed for people who want to put their vision for a better world & a more joyful, examined life into practice


There is an exercise in A Better World, A Meaningful Life, the online course that I teach for the Institute for Humane Education, that asks us to give up something and replace it with something new. I like to change the language on this assignment to "release something that no longer serves you and add something more positive and life affirming in its place."

We are sold the message of scarcity every day in our culture. We are told that there is not enough time, money, looks, job security, natural resources, humane connection, love, etc. We are constantly bombarded by messages that we are also not good enough, beautiful enough, smart/wealthy/successful/thin enough, and that we must surrender our own knowledge and intuition to “experts” who know better than we. Marketing plays to our insecurity and would have us believe that we must not just hold on tightly to everything that we have but constantly add to it too. This leads to our constant grasping after more every day.

But when we don't empty out space in our literal and virtual closets, when we don't open up time that has been spent in trivial pursuits that could be spent much more productively (in the sense of fulfilling, healing, nurturing, helping), and when we don't let go of beliefs and opinions that are no longer serving us and others, there is no room for the spaciousness that allows other, more useful and satisfying things to grow.

In Buddhist practice the idea of enlightenment, nirvana, or pure consciousness has at its center the achievement of emptiness. While this sounds like a negative concept from our Western cultural perspectives and constructs, it actually means not assigning importance to material possessions, ideas that we hold dear, the stories we tell ourselves about what is happening to us and its meaning, and even the pursuit of enlightenment or some perfect meditative state. By becoming empty (of expectations and outcomes) we can then invite in whatever appears with joy, openness, and curiosity.

In Native American sweat lodge practice, there is a similar goal to achieving emptiness. By physically sweating out our bodies’ toxins and thereby cleansing ourselves, we are also aiming to release toxic emotions, opinions, judgments (of self and others), and destructive thought patterns and behaviors.

So while I don't like the idea of giving something up (most of us don't), I really like the practice of releasing those things that are either unimportant or toxic to us at this point in our lives and replacing those items with things that will truly enhance our lives physically, mentally, and psychologically. Remember that releasing some things in order to invite in others does not have to only apply to physical and material things. It can also represent behaviors, attitudes, perspectives, decisions, saying yes when we mean no, and a whole host of modes of thinking and being in the world. It is so much fun to use our imagination to begin creating a new life for ourselves today. Think outside your comfortable boxes and see what else is out there that your allowing more space for might invite in.

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed. 


You have read this article consumerism / intentions / letting go / mindfulness / Most Good Least Harm / perceptions / scarcity / simplicity with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/what-humane-world-looks-like-releasing.html. Thanks!

Restoring Our Faith in Humanity

There were many comments about my recent essay at Care2.com, “We can (and should) care about both people and animals.” Sadly, many of them were deeply misanthropic. I can understand how some people come to hate other humans. Given the cruelty and destruction humans too often perpetrate, it is easy to fall prey to misanthropy. This is especially true for activists who daily face atrocities in an effort to make a difference.

It is difficult to maintain one’s hope in humanity if one is constantly addressing the repercussions of the worst in humans. So for those of you who need a boost and who would like your faith in humanity restored, enjoy these photos.

And here's a video version:




~ Zoe


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 TEDxConejo talk: "Solutionaries"
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"


Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to the RSS feed.  
You have read this article altruism / compassion / empathy / faith / heroism / kindness / misanthropy / modeling your message / Most Good Least Harm with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/restoring-our-faith-in-humanity.html. Thanks!

Humane Educator's Toolbox: Animal Sentience Mosaic

Image screenshot Sentience Mosaic.
Recently a group of scientists released the "Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness," which declares:

"Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness."

In other words: Many species of nonhuman animals are conscious.

As we spend more time observing nonhuman animals, and opening our minds and hearts, our knowledge about their emotions and intelligence is growing significantly. And as we learn more, we tend to care more.

Our friends at the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) have created a resource (h/t to Marc Bekoff) to help further our understanding of animals and to help support educators and others in exploring issues of animal sentience. As Marc Bekoff says, "The science of animal sentience is poorly understood and utilized, yet it underpins all the work that affects animals and is a growing international concern across many disciplines and sectors."

The Sentience Mosaic includes a variety of articles and videos dedicated to the science of animal sentience, as well as interviews and commentary by those working in this field. Articles can be filtered by topic (such as altruism, consciousness, play), by global issue (such as agriculture, sustainability, or human-animal conflict), and by year. Right now the collection of resources is small, but the site has the potential to become an invaluable resource for activists, educators, scientists, and anyone for whom animal sentience is relevant.

The site also offers a discussion forum, and events and debates related to animal sentience.

I highly recommend adding it to your toolkit.

~ Marsha

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed.




You have read this article animal companions / animal consciousness / animal protection / animal sentience / animal welfare / farmed animals / humane education / laboratory animals / nonhuman animals / science / teaching tools / wildlife with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/humane-educator-toolbox-animal.html. Thanks!

We Can (and Should) Care About Both People and Animals

Image courtesy of AlicePopkorn via Creative Commons.
For my blog post today, I’m sharing a recent essay I wrote for Care2.com, an online community for people passionate about creating a better world. Here’s an excerpt from "We Can (and Should) Care About Both People and Animals":
"In a recent interview in The Sun magazine, Joel Salatin, who is the owner of Polyface Farm and was featured in the film Food, Inc., and in Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, makes a number of comments about animals that bear deconstruction, primarily because they’ve become a straw man that undermines the goal of doing the most good and least harm to all people, animals and the environment.

Salatin is a farmer who raises animals for food. When asked whether animals should give up their lives simply for our pleasure, he replies: 'Why think animals are more special than carrots?' He goes on to say that he hopes that anyone who cares for animals 'would not spend more on his or her dog or cat than on making sure hungry children in Africa got fed,' stating that Americans spend more on vet care than Africans spend on health care. He actually calls this a litmus test of our priorities.

Why this need to disparage caring for pets? After all, there are many other things we spend money on."

Read the complete essay.


~ Zoe

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 TEDxConejo talk: "Solutionaries"
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"


Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to the RSS feed.   
You have read this article animal cruelty / carnism / compassion / consumerism / critical thinking / ethics / farmed animals / food choices / joel salatin / nonhuman animals / speciesism / straw man argument / veganism with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/we-can-and-should-care-about-both.html. Thanks!

3 Resources for Finding (Somewhat) Ethical Halloween Treats

There may be a recession on, but this year people in the U.S. will spend more than $2 billion just on Halloween candy. And that's a whole lot of opportunity to buy chocolate and other goodies that reflect our values of doing the most good and least harm.

Unfortunately there's no one-stop resource for finding Halloween candy and other treats that don't cause harm to people, animals, and the earth. Our best bet for meeting that goal is to make treats ourselves, using ingredients that reflect our values.

Since the DIY option doesn't work in many situations, here are 3 resources that can help you get a lead on finding (somewhat) ethical Halloween treats:
  1. The best source is from the Food Empower Project. They maintain a list of companies that offer both vegan and fair trade chocolate.
  2. A couple years ago VegNews created a comprehensive list of vegan Halloween candy. The list doesn't address companies' practices or issues of fair trade or environmental stewardship, but it's a good resource when your options are limited to more mainstream brands.
  3. If you want to give out something instead of candy, Green Halloween offers several suggestions for treats and treasures, though you'll need to run them through your own ethical filter to decide which ones would work for your family.
~ Marsha

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed.
You have read this article candy / chocolate / ethical consumerism / ethics / fair trade / Halloween / holidays / Most Good Least Harm / Social Justice / vegan with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/3-resources-for-finding-somewhat.html. Thanks!

Teaching Young Students About Rights, Roleplay, and Racism by Exploring Redlining

Image courtesy of theilr via Creative Commons.
One of my favorite books about education is Black Ants and Buddhists, by teacher Mary Cowey. In the book, Cowhey shares some of her experiences teaching 1st and 2nd graders about social justice issues. One of the reasons I'm so in love with this book is because Cowhey doesn't shy away from addressing challenging issues (in age-appropriate ways) with her young students. In fact, she embraces the curiosity and hunger her students have to connect their learning with real life issues.

In the newest issue of Rethinking Schools Magazine, I saw another great example of young students grappling with big ideas. In the article "Why is This the Only Place in Portland I See Black People?" teacher Katharine Johnson outlines her experience wrapping up a unit on Civil Rights by exploring the redlining that occurred in the school's very neighborhood.

Johnson leads her students through this challenging topic -- that's still relevant today -- by asking them to roleplay African American homeowners, African American renters, white homeowners, white real estate agents, white bankers, and a white mayor. Students were so empassioned by what they learned (which included thinking critically about the various roles and why someone, for example, might choose to discriminate against someone else), that they wanted to turn the roleplay into a play. Which they did. And then performed for their families and the principal.

Johnson says: "We generated a series of scenes that showed the dilemma faced by African Americans in redlined Portland and gave voice to justice by acting out how they might have protested. The class agreed to open with an African American family discussing their desire to move and fears of being denied. Subsequent scenes included that family attempting to get help from bankers, realtors, and government officials. The students decided on a sit-in as the action the people would take when no one would help."

How did it end? The children decided that justice should prevail. As Johnson says: "The class decided to end the play with victory. The justice fighters are successful in changing the mind of the mayor first, and then the bankers and realtors. The final scene is a housewarming party at the African American family's new house. And everyone is invited."

Read the complete article.

Of course we must be very careful not to traumatize or disempower students by exposing them to too much too soon. But successful examples like Johnson's experience show just how resilient and insightful students can be with challenging topics when guided by a compassionate and caring teacher.

~ Marsha

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed.

You have read this article civil rights / curriculum / discrimination / education / gentrification / history / housing / human rights / humane education / lesson plans / Racism / redlining / Social Justice with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/teaching-young-students-about-rights.html. Thanks!

Humane Issues in the News

Each week we round-up the news you need to know about humane issues, from human rights and environmental preservation, to animal protection, to media and culture, to activism, education, and changemaking.


Low-income students given drugs to help boost school performance (via NY Times) (10/9/12)

Pakistani teen activist shot for working to educate girls (via CBS News) (10/9/12)

"The cancer lobby" (commentary) (via NY Times) (10/6/12)

Will larger carnivores be moving in next door? (via National Geographic) (10/5/12)

Study says free birth control leads to fewer unwanted pregnancies, abortions (via Seattle Times) (10/4/12)

"Americans show support for clean energy in polls" (via Christian Science Monitor) (10/4/12)

Researchers discover structure in bird brains similar to mammals' (via Treehugger) (10/3/12)

Costa Rica poised to ban sport hunting (via Reuters) (10/3/12)


Keep up with more humane issues in the news via our Facebook or Twitter pages. 
You have read this article activists / animal intelligence / clean energy / education / ethics / family planning / humane education / hunting / lobbying / news media / Social Justice / wildlife with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/humane-issues-in-news_9.html. Thanks!

One Small Step: Do Something Scary

“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” (Christopher Robin to Pooh) ~ A.A. Milne


I'm a believer in pushing fear boundaries. As someone who has spent much of my life making decisions based on fear, it's an important strategy for helping me become the person I strive to be. I've done a ropes course, despite my fear of heights. I've pushed myself to speak in public about humane education issues, even though doing so stresses me out for weeks ahead of time. I've spoken up during scary confrontations with others. I've reached out for help. And almost every time, despite the terror and discomfort involved, I've been glad I did it. It has helped me grow, and learn to stretch myself even more.

So I invite you to choose a day -- maybe today! -- and challenge yourself to do something positive that scares you. If you're a teacher, maybe today you teach without the text book; or give your students control of their learning; or discuss that controversial issue in class; or talk about humane education with a co-worker or administrator. If you're an activist, maybe you write that letter to your legislative official; or start that project that's been lurking in the back of your mind, but has felt too scary to begin; or strive to practice compassion in the face of the world's horrors. And if you're a concerned citizen, perhaps today is the day you bike to work; or join that community group; or talk to your neighbor about what vitalizes and concerns you.

Today’s a great day to push yourself to do something you've wanted to do to challenge the status quo and build on your passion to create a better you and a better world.

After you've done that scary thing, ask yourself: How did it feel? What did you learn?

Then plan to do it again.

~ Marsha

 Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed.
You have read this article boundaries / citizenship / courage / fear / mindfulness / Most Good Least Harm / personal transformation with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/one-small-step-do-something-scary.html. Thanks!

Math + Pet Overpopulation = Great Activity for Young Students

Image copyright Institute for Humane Education.
At our student residency this summer, IHE M.Ed. student, Cassandra Scheffman, led a terrific activity for young children that combines basic math skills with an exploration of pet overpopulation. The activity can also be adapted to any situation where someone or something is being "squeezed out."

Eventually this activity will be available for free download on our website, but for now here's the step-by-step.

Materials:
  • 1 pair of dice
  • A white board to draw on and markers, or cut outs of puppies and kittens, and tape
  • A picture book about spaying/neutering animal companions, such as It's Raining Cats and Cats by Jeanne Prevost
Procedure:

1. Let students know you're going to talk about dogs & cats. Ask students to raise their hand if they know someone who has a dog or cat, or have ever met one, or have one themselves.

2. Ask a few students to briefly share something about a dog or cat they know.

3. Ask students to raise their hand if they've ever seen or touched a puppy or kitten. Ask: "What's a puppy or kitten like?" Ask: "Have you ever played with a puppy or kitten? It's a lot of fun, isn't it?"

4. Let students know that they're going to play a game, pretending they're cats and dogs, and puppies and kittens. Ask students to stand up.

5. Count off 12 students (or have a student do so) and ask them to move to one side of the room. Ask those left to find a partner. Let the partners know that they're going to move to the other side of the room and create a home by holding hands together and putting their arms up (to make a peak for a roof). Note: If you have fewer students, you can move 6 students to the side of the room and have the remaining find partners -- and then you would use 1 die for the activity.

6. Ask the 12 students to get in a straight line. Ask the student at the front of the line to decide whether s/he is a dog or cat. Say she chose dog. Tell her that she is a mama dog, and ask her to roll a pair of dice to see how many puppies she has. After she rolls the dice, ask her to add the two numbers together. (Or you could have students in the line all do it together.) The total number is the number of puppies she has.

Note: To make this more complex, you could, for example, have 3 dice and have students practice adding two numbers and then dividing by the third.

7. Now the mama and puppies have to try to find a home (inside the arms of the pairs of students acting as homes). Let them know that not everyone will fit. (You can also designate a limit to the number of animals that will "fit" inside a home, so that there are more left homeless.)

8. Have students look and see how many puppies/dogs are left over (didn't find a home). Draw a picture on the board representing each dog/puppy who didn't find a home (or tape up the cut outs).

9. Repeat items 6-8 several times, alternating between dogs/puppies and cats/kittens, each time drawing (or posting) a picture to represent the number of animals left over. You may also wish to have students switch around, so that those making the homes have a chance to be kittens/puppies (and rest their arms), etc. Depend on the space and age of students, you may want to encourage students to get down on all fours and act-out being puppies/kitties trying to find a home.

10. Once you've repeated the exercise several times, ask students to come back together and count (or add in groups) all the puppies/dogs and kittens/cats who didn't find a home.

11. Ask students to brainstorm ideas for "What can we do for the puppies and kittens who didn't find a home?"

As students share their ideas, acknowledge their ideas, and also talk about why some of those ideas might seem helpful at first, but aren't the best choice to help dogs and cats. For example, if students suggest taking them to an animal shelter, you can mention how quickly shelters get full, how not everyone can find a home, and how expensive it can be for the shelter to keep them (and that not all shelters are nice places). If students suggest letting them live outside, you can mention: "Sometimes we might think that they could live outside, because they're animals. Any idea why it might not work to leave them outside?" (no food, bigger animals could hurt or eat them, no shelter, they could get hit by a car, etc.) "They rely on us to take care of and protect them, don't they?"

12. Tell students that there's one especially helpful thing that we can do. An animal doctor (veterinarian) can help us. Read them a book such as It's Raining Cats and Cats by Jeanne Prevost (or tell a similar story you know of).

You can leave them with this saying to help them remember (and have them repeat it): "Doggies & kitties can be cute and pretty. But spay & neuter all doggies & kitties."

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed.
You have read this article animal companions / curriculum / humane education / lesson plans / math / pet overpopulation / responsibility / spay/neuter with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/math-pet-overpopulation-great-activity.html. Thanks!

Art and Humane Education

Image copyright David Revoy.
The arts are a powerful way to educate. In a previous post, I wrote about educating through drama and comedy. Today I want to say a few words about the visual arts.

IHE board member, Robert Shetterly, is perhaps the best contemporary example of an artist educating through this paintings. His Americans Who Tell the Truth portrait series  offers stunning portraits of historic and current Americans who have worked to make a difference, right wrongs, and “tell the truth.”

Rob travels the U.S. bringing his paintings to schools and teaching about changemakers through their stories and through a quote from the subject that he etches into each portrait. These stories and the power of these portraits offer profound opportunities to learn about pressing issues and how to create positive change.

Donna Simons, a painter in New York, has recently been showing her powerful art that calls upon us to consider what we are consuming when we eat animals. Sue Coe’s work also explores our relationship with animals, compelling viewers to consider how we treat nonhuman animals through disturbing and thought-provoking images.

I recently came across this work by French illustrator David Revoy, bringing a social justice message home to the viewer in a way far more powerfully and quickly than an essay on inequality.

There are so many ways to utilize art in the service of changemaking, and so many ways for art educators to become humane educators, inviting their students to create such art as well.

~ Zoe

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 TEDxConejo talk: "Solutionaries"
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"


Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to the RSS feed. 
You have read this article animal protection / art / artists / changemakers / David Revoy / Donna Simons / humane education / Robert Shetterly / Social Justice / Sue Coe with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/art-and-humane-education.html. Thanks!

Student Activity: Making Toys for Rescued Chimps

Image screenshot from HEART.
We love highlighting the great things humane educators are doing. Recently we saw a blog post by our allies at HEART that describes a project they've engaged students in, to help them learn about the plight of chimpanzees, while also giving students an opportunity to help rescued chimps who live at the Save the Chimps sanctuary.

Students created and decorated balls made of paper mâché to turn them into "chimpiñatas," which hold special treats for the chimps.

Read the complete post.


Save the Chimps has created a how-to video for making the chimpiñatas:




This is a fun activity that many students would enjoy.

~ Marsha

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed.
You have read this article animal protection / art projects / chimpanzees / citizenship / compassion / crafts / humane education with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/student-activity-making-toys-for.html. Thanks!

Humane Educator's Toolbox:Casual Homophobia Counter

Image screenshot nohomophobes.com.
Most of the time we don't mean to harm others with what we say. But there's no doubt that our choice of language, whether conscious or not, can promote and condone violence toward and exploitation of people, animals, and the earth.

One example of that is through the casual use of homophobic words. Especially when GLSEN's 2011 "National School Climate Survey," shows that "8 out of 10 LGBT students experience harassment," our society's use of such words helps engender an atmosphere of hostility and intolerance toward people who are gay, and an ambivalence toward harassment and violence.

Through Marc at the Oscio blog I discovered a real-time counter that tracks the use of just four homophobic words and phrases on Twitter: "faggot," "dyke," "no homo," and "so gay," and also posts the tweets themselves. When I visited the site yesterday, mid-afternoon Pacific Time, the counter had tracked more than 16,000 uses of the word "faggot" -- almost 100 of those appearing in just the 15 minutes or so I had the site open to write this blog post. That's just on Twitter. For just yesterday.

The site is part of a larger campaign to bring awareness to the frequency of casually homophobic language.

NoHomophobes.com is a great tool for humane educators to use with older students and adults (the tweets are included in their entirety, profanity and all). We know how powerful visuals can be, and just watching the counters tick and the tweets speed by is pretty horrifying. This is a great conversation starter about the power of words and the harm of casual discrimination.


~ Marsha

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed.
You have read this article critical thinking / discrimination / empathy / homophobia / human rights / humane education / integrity / power of language / responsibility / Social Justice / teaching tools with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/humane-educator-toolboxcasual.html. Thanks!

Get the Facts Right, Even When It Hurts

Image courtesy of dreamsjung via Creative Commons.
For my blog post today, I’m sharing a recent essay I wrote for Care2.com, an online community for people passionate about creating a better world. Here’s an excerpt from "Get the Facts Right Even When It Hurts":
"I’ve been pondering the more than 400 comments from my last post at Care2.com: “Since other animals are predators, why shouldn’t we eat animals.” Some were supportive; some provided constructive feedback; some were nasty. Many went back and forth with increasing vitriol between those commenting. It was at times disappointing and discouraging, but mostly, it was very disturbing.

Too often commenters bandied about “facts” that weren’t facts at all. For example, some supporting the overall thesis of my essay said that humans are herbivores. Others arguing against the thesis of my essay said that humans require meat. Neither claim is true. Some said that science reveals that plants can suffer and feel just like animals, but there is no science to support such a claim. These false “facts” were flung about, and then argued about, with everyone able to find a website or article to support their view, but actual truth was in short supply. And truth is precious.

I’m worried about our culture’s relationship with truth. I’m concerned that we’re not educating our children to parse the messages they receive and determine what is true and what is not. When anything can be written and spread on the Internet, then anyone can argue that they hold the truth because they read it on a website. Without the ability to distinguish opinion from fact, and without the capacity to evaluate information critically, we will be at the mercy of whomever does the best job at marketing and at saying what the majority wishes to hear."
Read the complete essay.


~ Zoe

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 TEDxConejo talk: "Solutionaries"
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"


Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to the RSS feed.   

You have read this article accurate information / critical thinking / facts / humane education / humility / truth with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/get-facts-right-even-when-it-hurts.html. Thanks!

What Education Issues Are on State Ballots for 2012?

The U.S. national election is just over a month away. Of course a lot of attention is focused on the presidential race, but there are a host of issues on state ballots across the country -- including several focused on education.

Andrew Ujifusa has kindly outlined the notable education-related ballot measures and legislative referendums in a recent article on EdNewsColorado, as well as provided an overview of some of the highlights.

A lot of the initiatives are focused on money issues, but here are a few exceptions:
  • both Georgia and Washington will be voting on whether or not to allow the establishment of charter schools;
  • Idaho has 3 propositions that affect teachers, including one focused on restricting collective bargaining rights and one that would uphold "pay for performance" based in part on test scores;
  • Oklahoma's initiative "asks voters whether the state should be prohibited from granting 'preferential treatment to or discriminating against' individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, ethnicity, or national origin for public employment or public education."
  • Maryland is voting on whether to "allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at community colleges, subject to certain preconditions. Such immigrants would have to register for the Selective Service System and show intent to apply for permanent residency in order to qualify."
Find out more.

~ Marsha

Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed.
You have read this article ballot measures / education / education reform / elections / legislation / politics with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/what-education-issues-are-on-state.html. Thanks!

Humane Issues in the News

Each week we round-up the news you need to know about humane issues, from human rights and environmental preservation, to animal protection, to media and culture, to activism, education, and changemaking.


In 5 U.S. states, hunting of wolves is coming back (via Mother Jones) (10/1/12)

"How the mafia is destroying the rainforests" (via New Scientist) (10/1/12)

"Misconduct widespread in retracted science papers, study finds" (via NY Times) (10/1/12)

Elephants die by thousands for religious symbols (via National Geographic) (October 2012)

"Child farm labor in Oregon and the U.S.: big dangers, little change" (via The Oregonian) (9/28/12)

"Forward to Nature: The new nature movement isn't about going back to nature but forward to a nature-rich civilization" (commentary) (via Children & Nature Network) (9/28/12)

Students use GIS tools to help address real-world issues (via Smart Blogs) (9/27/12)

Project helps prisoners & planet (via NY Times) (9/27/12)

Activists awarded "alternative Nobels" (via Common Dreams) (9/27/12)

Report says "agriculture causes 80% of tropical deforestation" (via Mongabay) (9/27/12)

New study estimates 100 million dead, trillions lost by 2030 due to climate change (via Common Dreams) (9/26/12)

"Why we should teach empathy to improve education (and test scores)" (commentary) (via Forbes) (9/26/12)

Study shows students of color disproportionately and more harshly punished (via Chicago Tribune) (9/26/12)

"Slavery still exists": a photo essay (via The Atlantic) (9/26/12)

"Peruvian innovators try to save disappearing glaciers" (via PRI) (9/26/12)

Study says "dust bunnies" are full of toxins (via Treehugger) (9/26/12)

Amazon launches "eco-friendly" shopping site (via Treehugger) (9/26/12)

Haiti bans plastic bags, foam containers (via Miami Herald) (9/24/12)

Cincinnati program helps support students from "cradle-to-career" (via MSNBC) (9/23/12)


Keep up with more humane issues in the news via our Facebook or Twitter pages. 
You have read this article activism / animal cruelty / climate change / deforestation / discrimination / education / environmental protection / ethics / human rights / humane education / nature / news media / organized crime / Social Justice with the title October 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://actuosa-participatio.blogspot.com/2012/10/humane-issues-in-news_2.html. Thanks!