The Shrine Vailankanni Global School’s wonderful new initiative teaches empathy and compassion to children…with the help of a few furry friends!
If these kids had tails, I am certain we would find them wagging away! “We didn’t know dogs were so friendly!” exclaimed 6-year old Sajan in delight after the ‘Compassion Circle’s first outing to meet a group of affable young retrievers. “Luca told me he wanted my juice.” giggled Sangamitra (8) struggling to keep her juice box away from a greedy golden.
The ‘Compassion Circle’ is an after-school initiative started by the Shrine Vailankanni Global School in T.Nagar. Inspired by the need to teach compassion and kindness to animals at the Circle’s bi-monthly gatherings, kids of all ages are encouraged to interact with dogs under the supervision of teachers and volunteers.
“We believe that the future of the world is in our classrooms.” says Chief Education Officer Manasa Pillai. “And what better way to sow the seeds of empathy and responsibility?” smiles the educationist responsible for the Circle’s inception.
“I was appalled to see some children shooing some dogs away from the school gate for no reason whatsoever.” she recounts. “On closer inspection I found a lot of kids had very wrong misconceptions about dogs and cats, even believing them to be dangerous. Sadly not all children these days have the privilege of growing up with a pet and perhaps this makes them nervous around animals. But see, even if someone professes to be indifferent to animals, their needs are similar to humans’ needs. It becomes necessary to develop that empathy among today’s generation.”
Pillai devised a simple yet ingenious way to introduce her children to animals. “I believe that we are the only school in Chennai today with this programme.” she adds asking me to observe the sheer joy the interaction brought the school children.
“In the future we will add trips to the Blue Cross and farms to slowly introduce our kids to other facets of their lives. At present we arranged these interactions with retrievers belonging to friends so we know of their friendly temperament and the kids are all thrilled!”
At only a year old, the visionaries behind the new Cambridge-board school believe in innovative teaching “Children are the future. Unless all living beings are treated well and given the space to co-exist with humans we will soon have a world devoid of both animals and kindness.”...