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Animal Empathy Courses: Mandatory in Schools?

Updated on October 22, 2015

Empathy can best be defined as understanding and entering into another's feelings….. Ideally, that would include all living creatures, not just humans. People who don’t experience a sense of empathy are much more likely to commit crimes and acts of abuse, cruelty, or neglect of others. If everyone developed the capacity for empathy towards other creatures, the occurrence of animal neglect and abuse would dramatically be reduced if not completely eliminated. What is it in our power to effectively change our level of empathy towards other living things?

Why is it critical to have empathy for the non-human world?

One would hope that all humans are born with a sense of empathy. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Empathy frequently is a learned state that has to be taught. While one could argue that empathy towards fellow humans is a predilection of the species, animal empathy is frequently something acquired only thru education. If a child lives with no animals, this is not something that they have to consider on a routine basis. Religious training can help, but a more effective means would be to have animal empathy training courses.

Animal empathy courses can be a very powerful way to encourage and promote empathy in young children. The coursework could introduce and re-enforce the notion that all animals have feelings and should be treated in a manner that heeds and respects that concept. Most religions embrace the philosophy that you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Animal empathy courses can help extend this philosophy to include all animals.

Making animal empathy courses mandatory in school is a good theoretical concept but is highly impractical. The limited number of hours in a school day makes this almost impossible. Students are already required to take so many classes such as language arts, math, and science that are designed to help prepare them for success later on in life. Additionally, the cost of such a requirement in this day and age of ever-shrinking educational budgets is prohibitive.

Long before children are old enough for school their parents should have at least exposed them to the concept of empathy. Throughout elementary school and before, the parents should be instilling the value of empathy in their children. Schools are a place of education, but they are not solely responsible for every quality and life skill a well-balanced and emotionally healthy adult should have.

Animal empathy courses should be made available to school kids wherever possible, but it should not be required. Anyone who is pursuing an education or training in an animal related field should be required to take an animal empathy course. Most of the people pursuing these careers already have empathy for animals and care enough to make a career of them.

I hope this hub has been helpful. Now I would really appreciate a moment of your time -- please post a comment that answers the question, what is the single most important benefit that children get from learning empathy for animals? If you do not feel there is a benefit, I would love to hear your comments supporting that view as well.


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    • wychic profile image

      Rebecca Mikulin 8 years ago from Sheridan, Wyoming

      Hey, you never know, all of use Browns had to come from somewhere ;).

      Yeah, I got a dog recently that certainly wasn't the prettyish one either, she had a pretty rough life to start with, had a crooked leg, tapeworms, discolorations in her coat, she was severely underweight and had never had any kind of socialization. It is truly amazing what the last three months of non-stop love have done for her. I'm good friends with one of the shelter staff members who came over for Thanksgiving, and she couldn't even recognize this dog anymore, no way this roly-poly, playful and outgoing critter could be the same one! :P

    • Richieb799 profile image

      Richieb799 8 years ago from Cardiff, Wales UK

      hey, nice hub, its true because animals can't talk back to defend themselves! I own a leopard gecko, she wasnt the prettyish one in the shop and she even had a discount because of lol.. but someone had to love her :D

      Notice your surname, Im Richard Brown, maybe we are long long cousins or something :P x