Humane Educator's Toolbox: Frequently Asked Questions

Several times a year I give an interactive presentation about factory farmed animals to adults. During the Q & A phase, here come those common questions that shadow humane educators everywhere, like a pesky little brother -- you love him, but you're tired of him being around all the time and wish he'd go play with someone else for awhile...or at least come up with more original questions. "What about plants? Plants have feelings too!" "Why should we care about animals when there are so many humans in need?" "But animals are here for us to use."

It’s essential for humane educators to be prepared to respond well to any number and type of questions and comments from students, parents, administrators, teachers and others regarding humane education issues. Fortunately (or not, depending on how you want to look at it), people ask many of the same questions about these issues, so it's easier to think about and practice compassionate, thoughtful responses (or questions you'd ask in return) -- ones that don't tell the person what to think or how to act, but which inspire critical thinking and encourage positive choices. Sometimes, the questions people ask -- or the comments they make -- can be really surprising and disconcerting; practicing active listening, addressing their core needs, remaining calm, and responding compassionately can really help you become more prepared, even for those tricky situations.

As part of his Master's degree requirements, one of our graduates has done a lot of work to help ease your way into responding to frequently asked questions and comments regarding humane education issues. IHE graduate Bob Schwalb, who is now a full-time humane educator in Chicago, developed an FAQs booklet, (PDF format) which offers possible responses to a variety of questions and comments in order to stimulate critical thinking and allow the questioner to make his/her own choices. Check it out, and add it to your humane toolbox.

~ Marsha

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