Teachers' experiences with humane education and animals in the elementary classroom: implications for empathy development

Journal of Moral Education 39 (1):101-112 (2010)
Abstract
An increasing amount of research has emerged in recent years regarding the benefits that household pets have for individuals, much of which focuses on child?pet relationships. A number of studies have explored the role of pets in elementary classroom settings and what advantages their presence might have. Current curricula aimed at promoting humane education are also related to the use of animals as teaching tools in classrooms. This study examined teachers' attitudes and experiences regarding the use of pets in the classroom. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected from approximately 75 elementary classroom teachers, revealing the way in which animals were used in their teaching practices, as well as their views on some of the advantages of using pets in the classroom. The majority of teachers surveyed believed that the use of live pets in the classroom contributed positively to increased empathy, as well as socio?emotional development, in students, much of which is supported by current research. Implications for further research are considered
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