Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Sum of the Parts is GREATER than the Whole



You cannot understand the whole aside from its parts, by JB

Recently for one of my classes at UCF I had to read an article about the feelings related to Animal Assisted Therapy using farms and farm animals. The feelings were focused around the farmers and the therapists, not the patients, and the paper went on to describe gender differences, and educational differences in men and women and how that correlated with different feelings towards these new programs.

The program was called “green care.” I thought it was fitting to be required to read this article this week considering one of my latest discussions with my Independent Study Professor. This discussion centered around what I would call, an Ethical Education, something like the “green care” for patients who need therapy.



In school, students typically wear goggles, in which only focus on one area of study… biology, chemistry, sociology, anthropology etc. We are told at orientation to claim a major, and dedicate ourselves to it, even though in the first two years of study, you typically don’t touch any of your required courses. Claiming your major, is like claiming your identity on campus… are you a Micro and Molecular Biology major? Or are you Interdisciplinary Studies?


We walk the line of the program we are labeled a part of, judging and only seeking information from professionals in our same field, respecting only those who are on the same path as us. Now, this has been one of my biggest concerns about education in this nation, and one I feel passionate enough about to discuss.


In the “green care” model the patients are encouraged and sometimes required to involve themselves in all the aspects of owning and operating a farm. Technical information about chemicals, and fertilizers, feed ratios, birthing processes of animals, a well rounded education, and understanding that farming isn’t just physical.


This is how I believe the education system should be. Take for instance dog care and professionals in dog care. It is very rare that you will come across a trainer, who has an understanding of general psychology, animal ethics, animal law, animal nutrition, and the evolution of social behavior. Herein lies the problem with education as I see it, it has one single focus, one path, without any cross disciplinary studies being involved in the exploration of subject matter… I mean, what can a biologist learn from a philosopher?


It is not until we understand that all problems we have are universal ones, whether this be dog behavior, or global warming, and that true comprehensive understanding comes from well rounded education and exploration, not microscopic specifics.

Some would say that being a master of a specific is to be a professional, but I believe we have to understand each part of a system like dog wellness to gain the whole picture of dog welfare.

Without an understanding of the psychological/biological critical development periods, the influence of social pack behavior, nutritional and structural health, and general welfare and enrichment, we are left with pieces of a complex system, that all need to be in sync in order to call ourselves dog care professionals or educators.

We can master clickers and agility, schutzhund and nose work, but if we cannot, at the very least experience all other disciplines, and parts of dog ownership, care, and professionalism, we are shorting ourselves, our dogs, and our clientele.

1 comment:

Denise Zaldivar with IES said...

Wow, super interesting. I never thought of education like this. There is indeed, no crossing paths with other disciplines, and that IS, in fact, not too beneficial to any of us, is it?! Not so!...Thank you for opening my mind on this!! Denise