Every time we teach children about a humane issue, we hope that they will be moved to share what they have learned with friends and family. After all, the point of humane education is not for the new knowledge to stay stuck inside one classroom, to be forgotten by the next period. We want kids to be moved to act to make the world a better place for all life.
But not all students are comfortable speaking out about the things they care about. That’s why we love building educational campaigns into our programs. It gets students sharing what they have learned, and serves as good practice so that they can keep spreading the word on any given issue.
A great way to do this is to ask older students to educate their younger schoolmates about humane issues. Have you been talking about pollution with 5th graders? Have them visit the classrooms of 3rd graders to talk about the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling. When students become teachers, they have to get to know the material much more fully so that they can effectively educate others. The students can practice in advance in groups and learn how to distill the most important points to convey the necessary facts. They also learn how to put together a call to action (for example: never litter and always recycle), and work on their public speaking.
Younger students tend to look up to the older kids in their school, making the older students the perfect teachers to inspire young students about humane issues. It also helps the younger kids become more comfortable in their school by meeting and speaking with older students who now become humane role models.
Here at HEART, many of our projects are centered around educating others. Last year at P.S. 36 in NYC, the kids did a unit on contemporary forms of child slavery. Each student researched a different way that children are forced into labor (factories in South Asia and other regions, restavec practices in Haiti, domestic slavery in many parts of the world including the US, child soldiers, cocoa harvesting in West Africa, etc.) and created a poster to educate their classmates about the prevalence of child slavery today. Many of our programs also end in assemblies in front of the entire school so students can present what they have learned to a large audience.
There are so many creative projects that can be done to have kids become the humane educator. Here are just a few ideas:
- Reading and discussing humane books with younger kids
- Traveling from classroom to classroom to educate the younger students on an issue
- Pair up an older student with groups of younger kids to create a humane art project
- Create educational posters to hang up in the hallways
- Ask the students to present to the entire school during an assembly
- Students can gather signatures for a petition and in the process, educate others about the issue
Every single one of us has the power to become a humane educator. Our students, the ones who are learning about humane issues, are the perfect candidates to help teach the younger generations ways to be a better global citizen.