Publications: Other Outreach Materials

School Curriculum “Next of Kin” — A Compassionate Interdisciplinary Science Curriculum

April 1, 2012 • Posted in Other Outreach Materials

NEAVS and Friends of Washoe/Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute have developed a compassionate interdisciplinary science curriculum for grades 2-9 to introduce students to important science lessons and critical thinking about the use of animals in science.

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The “Next of Kin Compassionate Curriculum” helps students develop awareness, form attitudes, and take actions to solve problems faced by chimpanzees – our next of kin – and other animals who are endangered or living in captivity.

Rachel Fouts-Carrico, author of Next of Kin, a Compassionate Interdisciplinary Science Curriculum

The curriculum takes its name from the title of Roger Fouts’ and Stephen Tukel Mills’ 1997 best-seller, Next of Kin, in which Fouts describes his work with Washoe, the first chimpanzee to acquire the ability to use American Sign Language. Roger and Deborah Fouts co-founded the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute at Central Washington University.

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Next of Kin: What Chimpanzees Have Taught Me About Who We Are, the 1997 best-selling book featuring Washoe, the first chimpanzee to acquire the ability to use American Sign Language. 

The curriculum takes many of the book’s concepts – most importantly, compassion and respect for other individuals and species – and introduces them to students through a variety of interactive, thought-provoking lessons and activities. For example, students gain first-hand awareness of what it would be like to live in captivity when they are instructed: “Think what it would be like to be trapped in an elevator for two days with food and water – but no escape.” This helps them empathize with a chimpanzee forced to “live” in a 5×5x7′ cage.

The curriculum can be used by teachers as a supplement to other units or randomly. Curriculum activities provide the students opportunities to participate in research, decision-making and cooperative problem-solving.

Fouts-Carrico, the daughter of Roger and Deborah Fouts, spent two years developing the ethical science curriculum. She holds a master’s degree in administration in supervision and curriculum development.

Comments from teachers piloting the program on both the east and west coasts have been overwhelmingly positive, according to Fouts-Carrico.

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