My earlier blog was essentially on pets and the market (purchases). This one is on pets and the classroom. The idea struck me when I came across an interesting online article, today about 'classroom pets'. So you could call it part 2 of my 'pet series'! After all pets are important components of our lives (that is, of those who have them and also of those who really wish to have them).
The article was about how having animals in primary school classes was a good idea to teach children about potent values of empathy, compassion and responsibility.
I agree with this. Having animals like guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters and even rats, mice, fish, etc is a fun way to instil these requisite values. But it's not just about having them as ornaments, but as living creatures to be cared for. The article rightly points out that teaching kids the sense of responsibility(for pets in the classroom) would come by showing them how to keep the pets clean, their cages clean, being sensitive to their likes and dislikes, making sure that somebody takes care of them when school is not in session, maintaining records, etc. The teacher himself has to lead by example, by doing all this and making the students do the same under his supervision.
This apart, there are other precautions and concerns to be kept in mind while keeping pets in the classroom.
First, based on the classroom environment, a suitable pet(s) must be selected. Following this, there is a need for the teacher, the school authorities and the class representatives to understand the habits, behaviour and the needs of the animal and should always have ready resources to tend to them.
Other factors also need to be taken into account like taking care of the parents' attitudes (some parents are not comfortable with the idea of having their children studying with animals, no matter how small, in the vicinity).Also, if adequate caution is not taken, it may lead to utter chaos. For instance, as having a rat let loose and uncontrolleable in the class would. Next, there are the 'allergic' factors. A child may be allergic to a particular animal or vice-versa, the pet animal could be allergic to some climatic conditions or some food. So, these need to be looked into, as well.
There's loads that could be learnt and that too in an enjoyeable way by keeping pets in the class.After all, it would be too theoretical and boring to keep reading about moral values through textbooks. Through practical exposure with pets, the 'emotional' knowledge gets in better. But one can only make the most out of it, if the rules are followed. Or else, the consequences would be unfavourable for both the children and the animals.
In that case, it would be better not to have the pets in the class at all. Morality could still be taught through the animals to the children by say, taking them out for a weekly excursion to a farmhouse, where they could devote an entire day to playing and taking care of the farm animals. And needless to say, under expert adult supervision!