Kristen D. is a high school mathematics teacher who has a passion for animal welfare. She wrote me about her experience with putting the parrot posters in her classroom, and the ensuing discussion she and her students had regarding empathy and compassion for all:
After viewing the various posters, it occurred to me that it would be a great opportunity to reach out to our younger generation by posting one of them in my classroom. Mine is a high school mathematics classroom; however, I feel education is all-encompassing and does not have to be restricted to one’s discipline of study.
I originally decided upon the poster which shows the birds enjoying their freedom in the trees. But then it occurred to me that the point is to educate them on how humans can end up having a negative impact upon their lives and the point of the posters is to help reduce and eventually eliminate such impact.
So, I decided to balance that photo with the photo of the parrot inflicting harm to itself through self-mutiliation due to stress from the confines of a cage. This would provide an appropriate balance of “education” to the students to see the difference in the life of a bird that is left to live its life without the harmful intervention of cages by humans etc.
My thoughts then grew to include a poster board about our local humane society and how the students could help animals through adopting an animal, donating items or money to the Humane Society, reporting abuse/neglect of an animal and volunteering.
As I was getting the materials together, I was approached one morning by a student at my classroom door who stated that she herself had decided to organize a fundraiser for our local Humane Society and it was to start the next day.
This was the perfect timing to introduce your posters. It seems almost kismet that the two ideas should be occurring at the same time. To my knowledge, this is the first time that a fundraiser has ever been held for animals in any of our high schools.
So, your posters were a catalyst for discussion in my classroom about not only the ethical treatment of parrots, but in fact of all animals, and of people as well. Your posters greatly contributed to our discussion and eventual first place of raising the most money in the school in the first ever fundraiser for animals. Our class of 30 students raised $230 in 7 days and I greatly attribute this to your posters which, as I said, were the catalyst for the poster boards, which lead to discussion, which lead to a wonderful interest and desire in the students to help these animals and raise money.
You asked me what the students said, but it was more about how captivated they were, how they listened quite intently and how they responded with their donations. One of the main things I spoke about was abuse and neglect of the fragile and defenseless in our society and how we each have an obligation to help protect the vulnerable whether they be an animal, child or any person. When one is being abused and neglected, they are defenseless and need the help of others.
I know it reached them:
The next day, one student handed me a $20 bill and when I asked her how much change she would like back, she replied that she didn’t want any change back; that after thinking about what we discussed, she felt that the animals needed it more than her. I was–and still am–impressed and moved by her words and action. In fact, two students the first day donated $20 each, and the donations continued in the remaining days.
I am so very impressed with these students and inspired by their compassion and readiness to help these animals. Thank you for these posters as they were the perfect introduction and certainly made an impression on the students. The posters will be up in my room for now and always. I have seen students go up to them and read them on several occasions. I do believe that they have opened up new viewpoints and thoughts about birds in these young minds.
Posters used in the display: