The study of human-animal relations offers a clear and adaptable lens through which to address one of the most important elements of the New Zealand curriculum: the development of the values and attitudes that form young people into responsible and compassionate citizens.
Some of the crucial lessons for children are learnt via their relationships with animals, including:
- Finding out about the natural world
- Assuming responsibility for the well-being of another living being
- Grieving over the loss of a loved companion
The psychological and social links between empathy for animals and concern for the well-being of other humans are now very thoroughly documented. In this sense, animal studies are an appropriate and necessary component of an inclusive education.