Title of Presentation

Special Session: Graduate Student Paper Prize Recipient: Towards multi-species subjectivity in language arts education

Presenter Information

John Drew, Western UniversityFollow

Sub-theme

Research and Theory

Keywords

Interspecies empathy, animals and education, animals in literature

Start Date

12-10-2018 8:30 AM

End Date

12-10-2018 9:00 AM

Abstract

Given the increasing urbanization of most countries in the global north, alongside the industrialization of animal agriculture, most children do not have material relations with farmed animals. Because of the power of interactivity for learning and its potential for fostering understanding and empathy, this geographic separation poses a challenge for humane educators, and is compounded by cultural processes of division and obfuscation. Moreover, as Helena Pedersen (2010a, 2010b) argues, Western curriculum is guided by ideological values deeply invested in separating nature from culture perpetuating an educational “silencing” of animals. Indeed, traditionally, educators have used animal representation as proxy for anthropocentric concerns (e.g. Animal Farm, The Life of Pi) which further perpetuate the nature-culture divide and suggest that animals are valued only in the instrumental service they offer us, a message, critical animal scholars argue, is also embedded across the hidden curriculum in schools (Pedersen 2010, Rowe and Rocha, 2015). Accordingly, in this paper, I suggest that English and Language Arts curricula offer teachers, schools, and curriculum planners a unique and timely opportunity to encourage young people to engage and empathize more deeply with animals by incorporating texts that respectfully and critically represent animal lives and experiences, as well as our diverse multispecies entanglements. I argue that selection and careful pedagogical attention to these texts provide opportunities to interrupt the ideological narratives underpinning the Western anthropocentric educational project and open pathways for greater interspecies empathy.

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Oct 12th, 8:30 AM Oct 12th, 9:00 AM

Special Session: Graduate Student Paper Prize Recipient: Towards multi-species subjectivity in language arts education

Given the increasing urbanization of most countries in the global north, alongside the industrialization of animal agriculture, most children do not have material relations with farmed animals. Because of the power of interactivity for learning and its potential for fostering understanding and empathy, this geographic separation poses a challenge for humane educators, and is compounded by cultural processes of division and obfuscation. Moreover, as Helena Pedersen (2010a, 2010b) argues, Western curriculum is guided by ideological values deeply invested in separating nature from culture perpetuating an educational “silencing” of animals. Indeed, traditionally, educators have used animal representation as proxy for anthropocentric concerns (e.g. Animal Farm, The Life of Pi) which further perpetuate the nature-culture divide and suggest that animals are valued only in the instrumental service they offer us, a message, critical animal scholars argue, is also embedded across the hidden curriculum in schools (Pedersen 2010, Rowe and Rocha, 2015). Accordingly, in this paper, I suggest that English and Language Arts curricula offer teachers, schools, and curriculum planners a unique and timely opportunity to encourage young people to engage and empathize more deeply with animals by incorporating texts that respectfully and critically represent animal lives and experiences, as well as our diverse multispecies entanglements. I argue that selection and careful pedagogical attention to these texts provide opportunities to interrupt the ideological narratives underpinning the Western anthropocentric educational project and open pathways for greater interspecies empathy.