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Lessons in Humanity

The common instructive method of helping children arrive at their own set
of moral values was originally called “values clarification” back in the 1960’
s and ‘70’s.  This approach to ethical self-discovery was replaced in the
1980’s with Character Education, the teaching of virtue-based lessons.

The Principles of Character Education
    •        Responsibility
    •        Respect
    •        Fairness
    •        Integrity
    •        Honesty
    •        Compassion
    •        Difference between right and wrong

Even though Character Education preceded formal Humane Education
lessons in the classroom, the desire to instill humanity in children as a core
value of our society has been around since the 1880’s.  Humane
Education was incorporated into the Character Education doctrine
because Character and Humane Education teaches many of the same
virtuous lessons.  

The Principles of Humane Education
    •        Responsibility
    •        Respect
    •        Fairness
    •        Integrity
    •        Honesty
    •        Compassion
    •        Difference between right and wrong

Humane Education adds:
    •        Compassion and respect for all living beings
    •        Animal welfare
    •        Compassion and respect for the environment

Humane Education focuses on a universal respect for all forms of life
including humans and animals as well as the environment as a whole.  

The Combined Philosophy

Educators know that animals can engage children and capture their
attention.   They also know that animals help to make learning fun.  
Introducing abstract concepts like respect, responsibility and compassion
was found to be easier through the use of Humane Education and animal-
based lessons.  Many character and humane moral values like kindness,
compassion, respect and responsibility are effectively taught with animal-
based lessons because animals can open the minds and hearts of children
to what humanity looks like, feels like and truly is.  The marriage to group
the two educational programs, Character and Humane Education, together
was thought to be a very positive step to teaching humanity to children as
a combined philosophy.

The Value & Benefits of Pet Related Humane Education Lessons

Children learn from various sources the valuable lessons they need to
grow into wonderful caring and altruistic adults.  Parents, teachers, and
other mentors in their life, who encourage Humane Education into daily
teachings, help kids learn what they need to enrich their life skills.  The
development of socially moral values on the appropriate treatment of
animals has been found to be a positive first step parents and educators
can take to further enhance a child's understanding of humanity and the
healthy treatment of others.

Children who interact with pets often learn responsibility, empathy and
compassion.  They also learn social skills like learning to share time, space
and family member’s affection.  These types of skills can boost a child’s
level of self-confidence and encourages children to be empathic and
humanitarian towards adults and peers as well.  Knowing how to share and
how to be kind to others helps kids adapt easier to school and society in

Young children who learn empathy and respect for another living being
can look forward to growing up with an instinctive desire to nurture others.  
This character trait has been shown to carry over into their peer relations,
family dynamics, school classrooms and social environs.  

Children who are taught how to care for a pet learn responsibility,
commitment, love and respect.  When a child understands how to love an
animal values like nurturing, empathy and unconditional love also become
tools for their future.

Parts of this article were taken from:
Our Pets as Teachers
How our pets can help us raise responsible pet owners
The Responsible Pet Owner column, Pug Talk Magazine, September/October 2009

Resource for Character & Humane Education Laws: Humane Education Advocates Reaching
Teachers (Heart) http://teachhumane.org

Resource for Character & Humane Education history and program content: Humane Society
University, Online Course, The Character Connection http://www.humanesocietyu.org
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