STUDIES + RESEARCH
HE + SEL Research Continues to Evolve
To summarize, the evolving research is indicating that humane education and social-emotional learning supports provide students with skills that both promote well-being and protect against negative outcomes. Although HE and SEL is not a one-size-fits-all approach, it’s an effective strategy regardless of school location and socioeconomic status. Students and teachers report the benefits of HE and SEL, and teachers affect outcomes. There are also both economic and long-term benefits of HE and SEL programming.
Trends in HE + SEL Research: What Are the Outcomes?
Internationally, one of the most pressing issues for early childhood educators is challenging behavior in young children, defined as disruptive, aggressive, and violent behavior that inflicts mental or physical harm to others. Addressing this concern requires teachers and families to support the young child’s budding sense of empathy, which is a major goal of humane education programs. Although most people assume that humane education focuses exclusively on the responsible care of animals, contemporary concepts of humane education are far more expansive and extend to compassion for all living things as well as to guardianship of the earth.
Reference: Jalongo M.R. (2014) Humane Education and the Development of Empathy in Early Childhood: Definitions, Rationale, and Outcomes. In: Renck Jalongo M. (eds) Teaching Compassion: Humane Education in Early Childhood. Educating the Young Child (Advances in Theory and Research, Implications for Practice), vol 8. Springer, Dordrecht
This study examined the effects of the presence of a dog in the classroom on field independence, social competence, empathy with animals and social-emotional atmosphere. The participants were 46 first-graders (43 of them immigrants) of two school classes (control and experimental). In the experimental group, a dog was present in the classroom for three months. Multivariate analyses revealed significant enhancement of field independence and empathy with animals in the experimental group in comparison to the control group (no dog). Thus, the presence of the dog fostered the development of autonomous functioning and a better segregation of self/non-self, which is the foundation of sensitivity towards the needs and moods of other people. Moreover, according to the views of the teachers, the children in the experimental group exhibited higher social integration, and there were fewer aggressive children, compared with the children in the control group. In sum, the results indicate that a dog can be an important factor in the social and cognitive development of children.