Lee Anne Chapman is a 2014 IHE graduate certificate grad. She says, “An optimistic activist, vegan for over 20 years, I have a passion for learning better ways of doing things and personal development.”
Lee Anne and her family live in a co-housing community beside the woods in Brighton, South East England, UK. Lee Anne works part-time for a social enterprise supporting adults with mental health problems and/or learning difficulties.
Not everyone knows immediately how they want to manifest humane education. We asked Lee Anne to share her story and struggles, to inspire others.
IHE: What led you to the path of humane education?
LC: I’ve never been one to take the easy path! My expectations are far too high for that. I’ve always expected animals to be treated well, people to treat each other well, to have meaningful work and a nourishing place to live, amongst other things. Of course having such values in a messed-up world can feel like swimming against the tide.
Wanting change and seeking “better” is what led me to the path of humane education.
I remember at school in the late 70’s a visiting theatre group who informed us about nuclear war. This seemed a real threat at the time, and I couldn’t comprehend why such a destructive substance would be used.
At 16 I made the connection between animal exploitation and my food and went vegetarian at a time when no-one I knew was. Years later I became involved in direct action against various unjust systems, became vegan, protested (and partied), rescued animals from suffering, and learnt a bit about lots of issues. Amazing times but led to burn-out and dissatisfaction with single issues, and eventually to a desire to work at the roots to create change.
I set up a vegan families group with an educational element when my daughter was younger and later became a school speaker for Animal Aid.
Whilst on a social enterprise course for women I had a vague idea for running a workshop based on “respect for all species education.” I Googled it to see what came up and up came humane education!
Stumbling across the Institute for Humane Education felt like coming home. I couldn’t believe I’d found such an inspiring and like-minded community. I suddenly had a name for what I’d always believed in. I decided to do the online A Better World, A Meaningful Life course and then the graduate program.
IHE: Sometimes it can be challenging to narrow down how we want to manifest humane education. Share a bit about your journey and what has led you to your current plans.
LC: Despite my passion for humane education, I’ve found it excruciatingly difficult to decide what to hone in on and how. I’ve felt that I should educate children, because this is so important, but I know this isn’t the best fit for me right now. I’ve thought of countless changemaking projects and workshops, but none I could realistically see myself doing, to begin with.
So, I’ve decided to start with what I’ve got: a talent for writing (so I’m told) and an ability to influence others. One of my humane education teachers observed that change seems to happen through me rather than by me, and I have to agree, in the main.
IHE: Share how you’re currently manifesting humane education/changemaking.
LC: I manifest humane education by practising (ongoing) non-judgement and compassion; introducing others to humane education concepts and principles; pointing out connections in my day-to-day dealings with friends, colleagues, people at the bus stop — just about anyone who is receptive. I do seem to influence others, because I notice openness, non-defensiveness, and changes in behaviour; and it’s a two-way process. I think I relate to people in a very human and compassionate way, which is helpful in my current work supporting vulnerable adults and helping them to create positive change for themselves.
The field of humane education is unknown where I live, and I have yet to begin my own “official” humane education work. However, everyone I speak to is very curious and enthusiastic about humane education and my vocational plans. I’m hopeful that this response is a good indicator of the impact my work will have.
IHE: What are your plans for your humane education work?
LC: I’ve started working on ideas and content for writing blog posts and building a website.
I come across a lot of people who really care about things, but who are understandably disillusioned about effecting positive change. I can relate to this feeling and would like to inspire those people in particular with new perspectives and vision, because I believe one of our biggest obstacles to change is the false belief that we have no power.
My general aims are: to introduce humane/solutionary education to my area/country (no pressure!); focus on/share examples of progressive choices and solutions; and to influence social justice for animals, in particular.
IHE: What would you say to others interested in IHE’s graduate programs?
LC: The graduate programs are an outstanding learning experience and the faculty and teachers are exceptionally inspiring. IHE’s graduate program will make you a better human being and better equipped to create positive change. I learnt to feel compassion for my own species as well as compassion for all non-human animals.