The World Becomes What We Teach


Have you ever heard of the term “humane education?” If you have, you’ve likely heard of Zoe Weil. Zoe is an inspirational and influential humane educator. She is the cofounder and president of the Institute for Humane Education, and the author of seven books. Zoe has also spoken at six TEDx events. In addition, she has created graduate programs and workshops for the Institute for Humane Education.

Humane education creates a more just and peaceful world by providing students with the knowledge and skills to make decisions that, according to the Institute for Humane Education, “do the most good and least harm for ourselves, other people, animals, and the earth.”

Zoe first became involved in humane education when she taught a week-long course for middle school students. After observing her students transform into activists and changemakers, she decided, “I can do this as my life’s work.” Zoe is passionate about humane education, and committed to her mission and work. She hopes that in the future, humane education will be synonymous with education. She is working hard to make that ideal a reality. Zoe believes that it is possible to create a just, peaceful and healthy world. She says, “There is a clear path toward creating a that world, and that path lies in education. If we can transform our education system in wise and meaningful ways, this may be our greatest hope.”

When asked why she believes it is important to maintain hope, Zoe replied, “Hope is an emotion, and when we have hope, we have greater motivation to keep working to make things better because we believe it’s possible. We’re happier when we’re hopeful. But hope is not a prerequisite for creating a better world, or working on behalf of a better world. And there are certainly times when I am not hopeful. And that doesn’t change how I act. One does not need hope in order to be a force for change and good.” She adds, “Hope is wonderful. It’s important, but it’s not essential. So if someone does not feel a lot of hope, that doesn’t matter. They still have to look in the mirror everyday and feel good about themselves.”

The World Becomes What We Teach is Zoe’s latest and newly published book. The book provides educators, formal and informal, with tools and resources to bring humane education to the classroom and beyond and educate a generation of solutionaries. Zoe notes that not only educators will benefit from reading the book, but also citizens and parents.

The book advocates that we adopt a more meaningful purpose for schooling, and suggests that we need to make education real-world and solutionary focused. Zoe says, “We need to provide training and professional development for teachers so they can teach in these new ways.” The World Becomes What We Teach promotes the idea that a better, more just, and humane world is possible. You can order the book online through Amazon or the Institute for Humane Education online store.

Are you interested in learning more about humane education? Zoe recommends reading her latest book, The World Becomes What We Teach. She also suggests visiting the Institute for Humane Education website and the resource center within. Another of Zoe’s recommendations is to watch her TEDx Talks and participate in an online humane education course.

Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots is currently offering the kind of professional development for teachers that Zoe speaks of! Roots & Shoots’ 3rd annual FREE online course for educators begins June 27. The course, Growing Compassionate Leaders, teaches participants how to mentor young people to identify and implement a local service-learning campaign. Click here to read “5 Things You Should Know About The Roots & Shoots Online Course” and click here to register.


About Author

Abby is a member of the Roots & Shoots U.S. National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC). She is passionate about causes such as literacy, fracking, roadside litter, menstrual hygiene, lyme disease awareness, and wildlife conservation. Her biggest achievement yet has been donating over 1,300 books to organizations serving youth in MA & RI. If she isn’t dancing en pointé at the studio, Abby can be seen exploring state/national parks, creating art, or reading a good book.