Animal ethics to be included in school curriculum

Findings from a project on humane education by Griffith University calls for animal ethics issues to be included in primary and secondary school curriculum.

Dr Gail Tulloch from the Centre for Public Culture and Ideas said humane education aimed to create a compassionate, responsible and just society by stimulating people’s moral development.

“Humane education is a way of introducing children and youth to the potential of animals’ abilities to experience emotions and to their capabilities, as well as linking this understanding to social and environmental issues.”

Dr Tulloch headed the “Learning to Care: Education for Compassion” project which investigated the knowledge and attitudes held by Queensland teachers and students towards animal ethics issues. The project examined how much these issues were already in the primary and secondary school curricula.

Year 7 students and teachers and Year 10 students and secondary humanities and science teachers were included in the study.

“Teachers and students showed a strongly compassionate ethos in relation to animals generally,” Dr Tulloch said.

“However, there were strong inconsistencies and contradictions in attitudes, particularly when applied to specific uses of animals. For example, many believe that it is natural to eat animals, but don’t think whales should be hunted for food.”

Report recommendations include:

– Curriculum development for primary and secondary education to include animal ethics issues, to increase knowledge of animals’ capabilities and how they are treated.

– Guidelines to assist teachers in the development of a more consistent and compassionate ethos in different Australian cultural settings.

– Broaden the application of compassion to include all animals — research, farm and feral animals and fish – not just native wildlife and companion animals.

Dr Tulloch will present a paper – Sentience and Affective Education at the symposium Humane Education: a compassionate ethic for animals on Friday, October 5 and Saturday, October 6 at the Eco Centre, Griffith University.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Arts & Education Communications Officer Deborah Marshall 07 3735 5245, 0408 727 734