13 November 2022
LET’S TRY TO BE KIND
Encouraging each of us to celebrate World Kindness Day, Born Free’s Head of Education Laura Gosset considers how compassion is at the heart of our charity.
I think Mahatma Gandhi said it best: “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Kindness, described as ‘the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate’, helps us build bonds and improve personal wellbeing. In order to learn and build kindness, it can be helpful to understand how others might be feeling. Today, World Kindness Day, I wanted to consider how empathy and compassion can be key to the development of kind behaviours.
Of course, these attributes can be learnt and nurtured. But, while children and young people are encouraged to act kindly and show compassion towards other people, school curriculums often do not leave room for an in-depth exploration of the importance of empathy and compassion towards animals. Which is why it is so essential we encourage this in our school outreach.
Born Free’s Pole Pole workshop, Should Animals Have The Same Rights As Humans?, offers the opportunity for KS2 and KS3 pupils to explore the real-life story of Pole Pole the young elephant – whose untimely death in London Zoo led to the start of our charity, in 1984. In the workshop, pupils discuss whether Pole Pole should be sent to live at the zoo, or remain with, or return to, her family in the wild in Kenya.
Working in groups as different ‘stakeholders’ involved in the situation, pupils share their thoughts and opinions, before voting as a class. Finally, the workshop reveals Pole Pole’s real story and we reflect on the emotional impact her story has on us all and what we can try to learn from what happened to her.
As you can imagine, the true, tragic tale of Pole Pole’s short, unhappy life initiates important discussions around the ethics of holding wild animals in captivity and to build empathy for individual animals.
A few things students take away from our workshop include*:
• Elephants have emotions
• Pole Pole could have had a better life
• That both sides of the ‘argument’ matter
• Animals should have as many rights as humans
• Elephants are extremely intelligent
• It’s very sad when animals die.
While children and young people are encouraged to act kindly and show compassion towards other people, school curriculums often do not leave room for an in-depth exploration of the importance of empathy and compassion towards animals. Which is why it is so essential we encourage this in our school outreach.
Partnering with Volunteers for Future – an organisation committed to delivering quality conservation education to primary and secondary school children – Born Free’s education team delivers free workshops and assemblies to help primary and secondary school pupils understand why we should respect the needs of individual animals, the threats facing wildlife, how rainforests and wildlife depend on each other, and more.
So, this World Kindness Day, why not book a workshop or encourage your children’s teachers to reach out? We are here to help and look forward to hearing from you!
*KS2 student feedback gathered 02.11.22