Posts Tagged ‘Animals’

Do Kids Need A Classroom Pet (The Four-Legged Variety)?

September 19, 2012


Courtesy of

It is a tragic reality that many (most?) children sitting in the classrooms today have not had an opportunity to enjoy and look after a household pet. This is sad because owning a pet brings many benefits to a child – from enjoying the companionship of another living creature (many kids these days don’t have siblings either) to fostering organisation and responsibility.

Some schools have stepped into the breach by replacing the home pet with a classroom pet – most schools opt for a low maintenance species, such as guinea pigs or fish. However this raises a number of questions: Who feeds the pet, cleans the cage, takes it to the Vet? Today’s teachers are busy enough as it is to take on another ‘dependent’ in the classroom.

One solution may be to have dedicated budget and staff time for looking after the pet but most schools are already strapped for money and time. I feel strongly that given the wealth of benefits pets impart to people and especially children, the need for a pet in the classroom should be viewed the same way as a need for textbooks. And pets are more fun, too.

Click on the link to read Strategies for Improving Classroom Interactions

Click on the link to read Why Spelling is Important

Click on the link to read Tips for Engaging the Struggling Learner

Click on the link to read the Phonics debate.

Different Professions, Same Experiences

September 5, 2012

It’s interesting how teachers often complain as if their problems and challenges are completely unique.

Some point out that they take their work home unlike many other professions.

Others talk about the low wages and hostile work environment.

Many talk about the troubles they have from bullying parents.

In truth, there are a myriad of different professions that struggle with similar problems to that of a teacher. They may not be similar occupations on the surface, but they can have almost identical constraints.

I recently had the pleasure of reading Vadim Chelom’s brilliant new book, Vet Bites Dog. Vadim is a veterinarian and fellow blogger who has a keen interest in educational affairs. He used his expertise to design a program for teachers to help instruct children about dog safety practices. In Vet Bites Dog, a book about his experiences working at a not-for-profit animal clinic, Chelom writes the following:

I take another deep breath. 8PM is just around the corner. People often say that being a veterinarian must be hard because our patients can’t talk to us. The truth is, it’s not our patients which make our work a challenge. More often than not it’s the animal on the other end of the lead. Learning to treat pets is easy. Learning to ‘treat’ their owners is what takes years of practice, boundless patience and expert negotiation skills.

Sounds familiar to the plight of a teacher?

I think it’s important to realise that teaching has it’s unique issues and challenges, but essentially all job with deadlines, paperwork, bosses, expectations and key performance indicators are distinctly similar in many ways.

I urge you to grab a copy of Dr. Chelom’s book. It’s hilarious, revealing and brilliantly written. You may, like me, realise you have much more in common with a vet than had previously thought.

Click on the link to read If Teachers Were Paid More I Wouldn’t Have Become One

You Can Eat Dead Animals, You Just Can’t Surf on Them

July 20, 2012

What these teenagers did was insensitive and wrong, but I don’t understand why you would get fined for approaching a dead whale:

Teenagers who posted Facebook pictures of themselves playing on a 12-metre whale carcass at Warrnambool in Victoria have been threatened with a $32,000 fine.

The images were published in the local newspaper, The Standard, today.

Department of Sustainability and Environment spokeswoman Mandy Watson told The Standard interfering with a whale, dead or alive, could attract hefty penalties.

“It is also an offence to approach within 300 metres,” Ms Watson said.

The department has warned that anyone who approached or tampered with the carcass faced up to $32,000 and jail time.

Click here to read ‘Would You Let Your 5-Year-Old Swim With Sharks?’

Skills Your Child Should Know but Isn’t Taught at School

June 5, 2012

I am not a fan of specialised programs as they tend to clog the school day and leave too few hours for covering the curriculum. Programs such as “Stranger Danger” have been shown in studies to be ineffective and a cause of paranoia and anxiety among students rather than a useful resource for their protection.

An exception to this rule is training children to be safe around pets. As a father of a young girl who is absolutely petrified of dogs of all shapes and sizes, I am concerned that this fear will prevent her from enjoying animals. I am also aware that dog attacks happen on an all too regular basis, with many of these incidents involving children and proving deadly.

Adults may know that running away from an angry or vicious dog is a recipe for disaster, but do children know that? And if they do, do they have the tools to manage such a situation?

The answer to that question is invariably – no!

That’s why I am grateful to prominent veterinarian, author and blogger, Dr. Vadim Chelom, whose passio for this issue prompted him to release a program for teachers to integrate into their literacy/social studies curriculum free of charge. On his blog is a comprehensive lesson by lesson program which will enable teachers to educate their students about how to stay safe around pets.

I have no doubt that this program has the potential to save lives. I certainly encourage parents to share the information with their children and for teachers to find time in a crowded curriculum to at least dedicating a lesson to this very important issue.

What to do When Threatened by an Angry Dog according to Dr. Chelom:

  • Lie down face on the ground.
  • Pull your legs up to your stomach.
  • Bring your hands close to the body to cover your face with your arms and your chest with your elbows.
  • Don’t move and don’t shout.
  • Lie still until the dog is gone.

Disrespected Teens Become Angry Adults

November 3, 2011

Whilst it may not come as a surprise to learn that British society casts negative views about the way children behave, the level of disrespect and animosity doesn’t bode well for the future.  To liken children as ‘feral animals’ may well be an accurate description for many, but I can’t help thinking whether such criticisms results in a stronger us vs them mentality.

Almost half of Britons think children are violent and starting to behave like animals, a Barnardo’s survey suggests.

The children’s charity says the research suggests society holds a negative view towards children despite the majority being well behaved.

Of the more than 2,000 people questioned by ICM Research, 44% said young people were becoming feral.

Barnado’s chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said it was “depressing” so many were ready to give up on children.

The survey revealed that:

  • 49% agreed children are beginning to behave like animals
  • Almost 47% thought youngsters were angry, violent and abusive
  • One in four said those who behaved badly were beyond help by the age of 10
  • Whilst 36% thought children who get into trouble need help, 38% disagreed

Writing off our young is not a good move.  We just can’t stand by and blindly judge.  We must do what we can to ensure that the next generation of adults feel empowered to make a positive contribution to society.

However uneasy people are feeling about the state of children in today’s world, it is up to us to straighten things out.  As it is, I am unhappy by the way my generation virtually ignores the contributions and sacrifices made by our elders.  I hate to think how badly the younger generations will treat us.

Teacher Assistants Now Come in Human and Dog Variety

March 1, 2011

I love this story!  Like yesterdays post, education is at it’s best when interesting and unorthodox ideas are devised to help improve the standard of learning and teaching.  To get kids to read to dogs is just zany enough of an idea to work.  Who needs teachers when you can employ dogs to do the same job?

A “LISTENING” dog has become Staffordshire’s latest teaching assistant – so he can help children improve their reading skills.

Primary school-age pupils will be reading stories to Danny the greyhound to build their confidence and overcome their fears of reading aloud.

Staffordshire County Council is only the second local authority in England to trial the idea and was due to be enlisting the help of its new four-legged recruit today.

The mild-mannered pooch was going to be working with about 30 youngsters at a library in Tamworth.

If successful, the project could be rolled out to other libraries this autumn to benefit schoolchildren across the county.

Danny and his owner, Tony Nevett, are part of the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ) programme, which has already proved a huge hit in the U.S.

Tony said: “He loves being read to and loves people.

“He will just be laying there on the floor while children are reading to him.

“Some children even show him the pictures in the books. Danny doesn’t judge them and he doesn’t criticise.

“For children who don’t like standing up in class, it can be a real help.

“We’ve had some fantastic results.”

Therapy dogs are already used to help people recover from illnesses or to befriend the elderly, which is where the idea to use them to aid literacy skills came from.

“It’s called animal-assisted therapy,” said 50-year-old Tony, who is based in Northamptonshire and has a degree in this line of therapy.

“When people stroke a dog, it’s been proven to lower their blood pressure.

“One of the reasons we use a greyhound is their temperament. They don’t bark.

“They are also the only type of dog with one coat of hair, so they are less likely to trigger allergies.”

The listening dog sessions can work in a variety of ways.

Sixteen-month-old Danny might listen to a child read on a one-to-one basis, or work with youngsters in small groups.

Pupils with special needs, such as autism, can draw particular benefits from working with Danny, although Tony is quick to point out that any child can enjoy working with a dog.

The books can tie in with the reading schemes they are using at school.

Staffordshire is following the lead of Kent County Council, which piloted the READ programme last year.

The approach in Staffordshire is especially innovative, because it involves running the sessions in a library.

Councillor Pat Corfield, cabinet member for culture, communities and customers, said: “This may seem like a shaggy dog story, but it has a serious purpose.

“The idea is that children will lose their fear of reading aloud, because the dog is a non-judgmental, friendly audience.”

Despite only being a young dog himself, Danny already has a wealth of experience working with children.

He has a sideline as a ‘Blue Cross’ dog, where he goes into schools to help teach pupils about responsible pet ownership.

There’s an old joke often attributed to teachers that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.  Seems that joke can be altered from peanuts to shank bones now.

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