Faculty Publications

Guardians Of The Earth: Teaching Children To Care For All Living Things

Document Type



Attitudes toward animals, Biodiversity, Biophilia, Environmental education, Humane education

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Teaching Compassion: Humane Education in Early Childhood

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Across cultures, people show affinity to nature, but today’s children have little contact to develop a strong bond. Children’s ways of knowing differ from the abstract, logical ways of adults, focusing instead on sensory and emotional perceptions. Children need to develop a love for nature through unstructured access to natural areas before learning about endangered species. Many factors affect human attitudes toward organisms: media portrayal, physical and behavioral attributes, genetic closeness to humans, cultural and religious factors, and perceived danger. Learning about local fauna and flora can influence preferences from charismatic species to appreciating more modest local organisms. Familiar animals are generally valued with education affecting these attitudes. Humane education programs of several approaches (curriculum-blended, literature-focused, and animal project-based) abound, but their efficacy has not been well documented in the literature. A recent humane education program by the authors is discussed along with examples of animal poetry that the author developed for use with first and second grade students.


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

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DOI of published version