So, a school in the West Midlands in England has ‘hired a dog as a teacher’. According to an article here in Kiwi Kids News and as reported on the UK’s BBC website, eight-year-old Border Collie Miss Minnie listens to children read and helps with other key skills.
…like what exactly? Running after a stick? How to bury bones in the school field? The best methods of chasing cats? Ways students can bark at passing cars or at their own reflections? And has anyone given any thought to allergies or, erm, a separate area for Miss Minnie to go to the bathroom – I’m not sure she’s allowed to use the staff toilet.
It might seem like a bit of a gimmick, a bit of a headline-grabbing act, but it’s not as daft an idea as you might think.
In my opinion, this school is onto something quite innovative. First of all, animals don’t need paying as much as trained teachers – a steady supply of appropriate food and plenty of exercise is perfectly fine. Secondly, there’s no need for parking spaces for teachers’ cars – all that land could be used for playground area. Thirdly, playtimes will be more fun. Imagine dragging your teacher away from the staffroom and a cup of coffee to play fetch with a tennis ball. And fourthly, stroking a dog is a bit more acceptable than tickling Mrs So-and-so under her chin…
What of the other possibilities? Monkeys to teach PE, penguins to supervise swimming lessons, students can gain important social skills by watching how meerkats look out for each other, sheepdogs’ herding instincts could be useful rounding up students after morning tea or lunch. And it’s often said that dolphins are just as intelligent as people. (Though setting them up in a classroom might be a little tricky…)
Anyway, back to Miss Minnie… She’s proving a hit in the classroom, apparently. I’m sure it’s down to her ability to teach her students in a caring and sensitive way, her careful planning for all in her class, the way she listens attentively and patiently to each of her children, the fact she doesn’t mind doing the same things enthusiastically over and over and over and over again…
And nothing what so ever to do with her cute looks, soft snuggly hair, winning smile and the fact she’s always happy to see each student in the morning.
Hmm… hang on… sound familiar?
[colored_box color=”green”]This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry amongst your students:[/colored_box] [colored_box color=”yellow”]Critical Thinking Challenges:
1. Is there really anything that students can benefit from in having a dog – or any other pet – in the classroom?
2. It’s often been said that humans take advantage of animals in all sorts of ways. What ways might those be, and are using animals ultimately for the good of humans?
[/colored_box] [colored_box color=”green”]Practical Tasks:
1. Animals do have abilities that humans don’t have. Choose an animal to research, find out what its particular skills are and report back on them. Then, and this is the fun part, think about how humans can learn from or use that particular skill to help them? (For example, how can humans use birds’ abilities to make nests?)
2. If your class had a class pet, what would it be and why? Prepare and deliver a speech to persuade your teacher or principal to allow your class to have its own animal.
[/colored_box] [colored_box color=”red”]Have Your Say: [socialpoll id=”[socialpoll id=”2265919″] [/colored_box]