Let’s Be the Best FOR the World, Not IN the World

I recently gave a keynote address at the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents conference on sustainability. There were 120 superintendents, principals and teachers at my talk, and I was so excited about the opportunity to speak to them. I speak often at teachers’ conferences, and because I usually have only about an hour to present, I share what I consider the quintessential humane education activity, True Price. True Price asks several questions about ubiquitous products, (e.g. food items, clothing and electronics, etc.):

1. Is this item a want or a need?
2. What are the effects of this item, both positive and negative, on you as a consumer, on other people, on animals, and on the environment?
3. What systems perpetuate this item?
4. What would be an alternative that does more good and less harm, and if no such alternatives exist, what systems would need to change to make alternatives commonplace?

The answers to these questions are complex and require the development of excellent research, investigation and critical and creative thinking capacities. During my presentations at teachers’ conferences, we simply scratch the surface, but do so in a way that engenders creative development of educational approaches for classrooms and schools. At the Manitoba conference, I put 20 items on the 20 tables in the room, and invited the audience members to analyze the item on their table, answering the questions above. The process evoked new thinking about how to integrate activities related to sustainability (the theme of the conference) into their schools and districts.

Almost every time I do this activity at U.S. teachers’ conferences, some audience members feel flummoxed by the challenge of bringing such an activity into their curricula. Forced to teach to seemingly endless standardized tests, many cannot see how such a multidisciplinary, critical and creative thinking activity could fit into the requirements they must fulfill, even though the exploration of these items and the process of answering these questions can fit beautifully and powerfully into language arts, science, math, health and social studies courses. Exploring such questions can also become an elective or add greater educational meaning and purpose to courses in economics, geography, psychology, environmental science, ethics and more.

In Manitoba, there were no such questions, no such quandaries. Prior to arriving at the conference, I had perused the ministry of education’s website, discovering this mission statement: “Our role is to ensure that all of Manitoba’s children and youth have access to engaging and high quality education that prepares them for lifelong learning and participation in a socially just, democratic and sustainable society.”

I was delighted to read this mission, and even more delighted when virtually everyone in the room knew that this was, indeed, their mission. Humane education, which explores the interconnected issues of human rights, environmental preservation and animal protection and seeks to prepare students to be solutionaries for a compassionate, just and peaceful world, fits right into Manitoba’s educational goals. True Price didn’t seem like a diversion from the core curriculum to these Canadians at all; rather, it seemed simply to be a new and exciting way to achieve their mission.

We need such a mission statement in the U.S. Currently, the U.S. Department of Education’s mission is this: “To promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.”

Is “global competitiveness” the best we can achieve? At the Manitoba Conference, author, teacher and U.S. educational leader, Stephanie Pace Marshall, pointed out during her plenary address that we need to be not the best in the world, but the best for the world. This is a profoundly important distinction. It’s time that the U.S., like Canada, embraces a big enough and an important enough educational mission for today’s world.


Zoe Weil is the president of the Institute for Humane Education, which offers the only graduate programs in comprehensive humane education, as well as online courses, workshops, and free resources. She is the author of Nautilus silver medal winner Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life; Above All, Be Kind; The Power and Promise of Humane Education; and Moonbeam gold medal winner Claude and Medea, about middle school students who become activists. She has given several acclaimed TEDx talks, including “The World Becomes What You Teach” and “Solutionaries” and blogs. Join her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @ZoeWeil.

Image courtesy of erasmusa via Creative Commons.


Tammy Baxter
Tammy B3 years ago


Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra3 years ago

Thank you Zoe, for Sharing this!

Fiona T.
Past Member 3 years ago

Everybody's got a part to play

Spirit Spider
Spirit Spider4 years ago

This I like very much 'be the best for the world' thank you :-)

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson4 years ago


Aaron B.
Aaron Bouchard4 years ago


Dave C.
David C4 years ago


Dorothy N.
Dorothy N4 years ago


This cheating was done to get Harper in, with the help of Republicans, using firms used by Bush to help cheat his way into the US white House, and also represents significant interference in the electoral process by a foreign (corporate-front-group) political party to affect/destroy that country's democracy.

If I can find this on the web, (it was sent to me personally) I'll post a link somewhere, but I'm not sure why it's so hard to link anything to Canada on Care2, even on the 'from the web' section - my most recent - and imperative - posting on Canada http://www.care2.com/news/member/128411456/3497535 which was in that section, when last checked, had no comments at all and I can only find it myself from the URL, not under Human Rights or anything else...

Dorothy N.
Dorothy N4 years ago


Adding significant weight to this evidence are internal emails between Elections Canada officials obtained by media under federal access to information laws. The emails reveal election officials were alerted to complaints by voters across the country of potentially fraudulent calls over the final days of the 2011 campaign, apparently coming from the CPC. Deeply concerned, the officials contacted CPC lawyer Arthur Hamilton to notify the party of these complaints.

Mr. Shrybman then moved to the testimony of RMG, a telemarketing firm that makes calls on behalf of the CPC. RMG Chief Operating Officer Andrew Langhorne admits calls made to CPC supporters included a statement that "Elections Canada has made a number of last changes to polling locations." This is problematic for two reasons: Elections Canada asked the parties not to advise voters of polling station changes and, despite RMG calling into five of the six ridings in these cases, only one polling station location had changed. So why did RMG make calls into ridings where there was no changes at all?

Annette Desgagne, an employee of RMG at the time of these calls, has given sworn testimony that, because of the way people responded to her "polling station change" scripts, she believes she misled voters. She was so alarmed that she reported her concerns to the RCMP.

Day 2 ended with the promise of more evidence to come from the applicants.

With hope and resolve,

Maude Barlow

If I can find th

Dorothy N.
Dorothy N4 years ago


Up first were the sordid events surrounding "Pierre Poutine," the infamous character widely reported to be the culprit behind voter suppression in the riding of Guelph, ON. Drawing on documents from Elections Canada's investigators, Mr. Shrybman led the court through the sophisticated lengths Pierre Poutine went to in an attempt to suppress the vote of thousands of unsuspecting people through fraudulent calls, and the covert measures he took to conceal his identity and cover his tracks.

In fact, these measures were so successful that it took the Postmedia News report that first broke the robocall scandal (almost a year later) for tens of thousands of Canadian voters – including the eight applicants – to put two and two together.

Turning to recently filed documents from Elections Canada investigators, Mr. Shrybman deftly connected the dots between the fraudulent activity in Guelph and evidence that the voter suppression campaign was far more widespread. The most powerful piece of that evidence reveals that Elections Canada is now actively investigating 1,400 complaints in 247 ridings across the country, including many of the six ridings in these legal cases. And one of those complaints comes from an affected voter in the Quebec riding of Rivière-du-Nord, who did not vote as a direct result of having received fraudulent calls. This was also true for Leanne Bielli, the ninth applicant, whose case was withdrawn.

Adding significant weight t