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Lessons For A Humane Holiday

Belittling the Bird

The Use of "Turkey" in Language
Our language says a lot about our society, how we perceive each other, and the world around us. Language can bridge gaps and language can demean others. The use of the word "turkey" is synonymous for failure and worthlessness. Examining the use of language as it pertains to animals will help your students reflect on cultural attitudes toward animals and how they can help change those attitudes through the simple use of alternative words.



Activities and Discussion Topics
  • Use of the word "turkey" in society is most certainly derogatory. Discuss why and in what ways it is demeaning to others as well as to turkeys. Discuss other words that we use in society that can be hurtful to groups of people. Afterwards, have students come up with ways to change their language to show respect for turkeys and other people.


  • To show students how language can bridge gaps and promote understanding, ask them to write a birds'-eye view of life as a turkey. Offer handouts and other teaching tools in which students can learn about turkeys, how they live, what they enjoy, etc. Seeing the world through the turkey's point of view should help students see these animals in a different light, thereby building an understanding and respect for these creatures


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