Humane Educators: In Depth

Many humane and environmental educators are former classroom teachers who decided they want to focus on a few specific issues to have the most impact.

Is humane education a "frill"?

Some critics argue that schools and other educational groups should focus on the basics: math and reading. Kids, they say, don't need "extras" like humane and environmental education.  Students benefit from "character building" humane and environmental lessons. Humane and environmental education are typically taught "across the curriculum" so that students learn lessons in math, reading, social studies, and language arts while learning about animals and nature. The lessons enhance abilities such as critical thinking and problem solving, as well as increasing empathy toward others, and school scores on standardized tests may be higher than in schools without the enrichment.  

Students also learn values. The importance of values and character education has been proven. To learn about studies of the impacts of humane and environmental education programs, visit the web site of the National Association of Humane and Environmental Education (NAHEE). NAHEE also provides teacher development programs and various educational materials & resources for children, teens, and adults.

But because not everyone recognizes the value of humane education, educators should be prepared to:

  • Lobby for state and federal funding of school programs in humane and environmental education
  • Work in nonformal settings such as community centers, museums, and nature centers, especially if schools do not welcome formal courses
  • Seek outside funding to support the costs of quality education programs.

Learn about professional humane educators who work in or with shelters.