Category Archives: Blog

Alberta’s New Curriculum – an opportunity for leadership in humane values

The current review of provincial curriculum – being conducted by Alberta Education in partnership with the Alberta Teachers’ Association – provides a unique opportunity to incorporate positive, effective changes in our schools to help students’ character development through humane education. Indeed, we can become the first province to explicitly include humane education in the provincial curriculum.

We define humane education as teaching that inspires kindness to animals, people and the environment – or more simply put, character education with a wagging tail. Including animals (in stories or science – not necessarily physically present in a classroom) provides an opportunity to look beyond ourselves, to discover our place in the natural world. A growing body of research shows that encouraging kindness to animals transfers to human-directed empathy, and humane education can decrease the likelihood of future aggression in children showing antisocial behaviours.

Historically, Alberta has shown leadership in this area. Louise McKLouise McKinney 1917inney, one of the Famous Five who brought women the right to vote and went on to become the first woman elected to public office in the British Commonwealth, advocated for humane education as a means of violence prevention. In 1904 she led the charge for women of Alberta to push for the creation of humane societies, humane education and to show their support by practical example.

Grant MacEwan, educator, author and politician, also modelled the importance of responsible stewardship and humane animal treatment. While serving as Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta in the late 1960s, he wrote the well-known MacEwan’s Creed which affirms the need for sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation in a manner reflecting the culture of First Nations communities.

Alberta’s current Programs of Study include many references to values inherent in humane education, scattered throughout various subject areas and grade levels. We now have an opportunity to holistically and explicitly recognize the importance of humane education in this province.

Humane education is embedded in education criteria in jurisdictions outside of Canada. At least nine American states explicitly require teaching kindness to animals or humane education, including New York, Washington and Maine. No Canadian province has yet to take this small step toward a more humane future. Once again, it falls to Alberta to take the lead.

Let’s use this opportunity to take a step toward a more humane curriculum – for the sake of our youth and our future.

Zoonotic diseases in the Classroom

This week is Animal Health Week (October 2-8) and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association is focusing on the importance of ‘One Health,’ meaning that the health of humans, animals and ecosystems is interconnected. With this theme in mind, guest blogger and 4th year animal science student Kelsey Neill discusses zoonotic diseases, classroom animals and what…Continue Reading

Responding to Disaster: The Fort McMurray Fire

A disaster can happen when we least expect it. But when people step up, get involved and work together, difficult situations can be overcome and the Fort McMurray fire is a great example of this. From the start, the fires moved quickly, intensely and unpredictably. People were forced to evacuate with little warning – this…Continue Reading

Announcing the 2015 Humane Awards Recipients!

The Alberta SPCA’s Humane Awards recognize Alberta teachers and students who inspire others to show compassion for animals, people and the environment through example and leadership. We are pleased to announce this year’s Humane Award Recipients! For incorporating humane education principles that foster empathy and respect for all living, the 2015 Humane Teacher Award recipient…Continue Reading

Three ways to Inspire Ethical Citizenship

In Alberta’s Ministerial Order on student learning the government identified fundamental learning goals for students to ensure a prosperous and positive future for Alberta. We must aim to inspire all students to reach their full potential through the three Es’: “engaged thinkers and ethical citizens with an entrepreneurial spirit.” The second of the e’s –…Continue Reading

Announcing the Alberta SPCA humane awards for teachers and students

The Alberta SPCA’s education department is happy to announce our humane awards – open to all Alberta teachers and students who inspire others to show compassion for animals, people and the environment. Teachers who incorporate humane education principles that foster empathy and respect for all living things are eligible for the Alberta SPCA Humane Teacher…Continue Reading

Marks of Kindness

Students and teachers across the province have done some wonderful things to make a difference for animals, people and the environment! This short video highlights just some of the things they were up to this past school year. Enjoy! For more examples of students making a difference, visit our Kindness Map!Continue Reading

Grants for Greening Your School

Spring is a great time to start thinking about engaging your school community in finding ways to make your school a greener place – both inside and out. There are many benefits to greening schools, including energy and waste reduction, air quality improvement and even increases in academic performance. Adding green spaces outdoors provides authentic…Continue Reading

Blog posts represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Alberta SPCA.