In the United States the current purpose of schooling is expressed in the mission statement at the U.S. Department of Education website:
to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.
Is this mission sufficient and appropriate for students whose future is threatened by global problems they will be required to address? Might they be better served by a more meaningful and comprehensive mission that includes learning to solve the challenges we face?
- Climate change is not a future possibility; it is happening now, with catastrophic impacts on humans and nonhumans alike.
- Human population continues to grow, and of the nearly 8 billion people in the world, more than 700 million live in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 per day, and approximately 40 million are enslaved.
- While disenfranchised groups have gained critical legal rights and protections, racism, sexism, homophobia/transphobia, and other forms of oppression and prejudice persist not only in the hearts and minds of individuals but also within institutional structures.
- Animals, too, are facing horrific exploitation and cruelty. Tens of billions of land animals and trillions of sea animals suffer and die each year as part of an unsustainable and inhumane global food system.
- Meanwhile, misinformation, disinformation, and polarization impact our ability to accurately identify and collaboratively address these and other challenges.
Despite these grim realities, we’ve seen real progress and have ever-expanding opportunities to solve our problems. For example:
- People in countries around the globe are living longer and more materially secure lives.
- There is less violence toward people than ever before in recorded human history.
- Only in this century have we had the capacity to communicate and collaborate instantaneously with so many across the globe. Mobile phone access is enabling millions to connect with others worldwide and to access the growing body of knowledge humans are creating and disseminating.
- There are also exciting innovations occurring in green technology, architecture, construction, and production. Clean energy systems and regenerative farming practices are expanding; cultivated meat that does not require the slaughter of animals is becoming available; and people in every country are devising solutions to what have been seemingly intractable problems.
- Thanks in large part to positive changes within the education system, young people are growing consistently less racist, sexist, homophobic/transphobic, and more philanthropic and environmentally conscious.
It is possible to create a just, healthy, and humane world! To do so we must bring humane education into classrooms and communities everywhere.
Here’s a glimpse of what this looks like:
By educating young people to be solutionaries, we can:
- Develop sustainable and humane food, production, energy, and other systems.
- End poverty and ensure that everyone has equal rights as well as equal access and opportunity.
- Resolve conflicts without violence.
- Slow the rate of species extinction, treat animals with compassion, and restore ecosystems.
Humane education is the key to a better future.
What exactly is humane education? Click here to learn more.