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Science & Tech

Dreams of Africa

Dr. Jane Goodall

Lesson time 16:54 min

Learn how Dr. Jane's childhood aspirations took her from England's seaside to the forests of Africa.

Dr. Jane Goodall
Teaches Conservation
Dr. Jane Goodall shares her insights into animal intelligence, conservation, and activism.
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A lot of people ask me, how did it all begin for you? How did you become a scientist? Did you want to become a scientist? And the thing is that my first scientific experiment, my first interaction with animals-- apparently, I don't remember it, but it began when I was 18 months old. My mother came into my room, and she found that I had taken a whole handful of wriggling earthworms to bed with me, and, of course, with the earth as well. And I was so lucky in my mother, because she supported my love, my fascination for animals. So instead of getting mad at me-- ugh, throw those dirty things out-- she very quietly said, "Jane, they need the earth, or they'll die," and we took them back into the garden. But what she said to me, she said, you know, you were looking so intently at those earthworms, and still, you were wondering, how do they move without legs? And the second experience I had with observing animals that I remember really, really clearly was when I was four and 1/2 years old, a little animal-loving girl growing up in London. There aren't so many animals there. There's sparrows and pigeons and dogs and cats. But when I was four and 1/2, my mother took me for a holiday in the country on a farm, a proper farm, a farm where animals roam around in the fields, and hens peck around in the farm yard, not these terrible intensive farms that we get for animals today. And I was given a job to help collect the hens' eggs. So the hens were supposed to lay their eggs in little wooden henhouses, and around the edge were boxes, where they were supposed to lay their eggs. So they would go into the henhouse, go into this little nesting box, and I would go around on the outside and lift up the lid, and if there was an egg, pop it in my basket. Well, I don't remember this, but apparently, I was asking everybody, but here's the egg. I couldn't see a hole on the hen, where that egg would come out, and I was asking everybody, where does the egg come out of the hen? And nobody told me to my satisfaction. So what I remember vividly is seeing this hen. She was brown, and she was going into one of these henhouses. And I must've thought, well, she's going to lay an egg, so I crawled in after her. Hm, big mistake. She flew out, squawking, I suppose with fear. And again, in my little four and 1/2 year old mind, I must have thought, no hen will lay an egg here. It's a frightening place. And by now, of course, I'm on the path to discovery, and I'm not going to give up. So I went into an empty henhouse and hid in the corner and waited and waited and waited, which was fine for me. But my poor family didn't know where I was. They were searching. It was getting late. I was apparently gone four hours. And finally, my poor mother sees this little girl rushing towards the house, and instead of getting mad at me-- how dare you go off without telling us? ...

Take action

There is still a window of time. Nature can win if we give her a chance. In her first ever online class, Dr. Jane Goodall teaches how you can conserve the environment. She also shares her research on the behavioral patterns of chimpanzees and what they taught her about conservation. You'll learn how to act locally and protect the planet.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I was really inspired to participate in my community's conservation efforts.

A lighted thought human being that alighted her mind to harmony with her heart. Truly passionate and inspiring classes to get you going. Wonderful!

Dr. Jane Goodall has always been inspiring to me and hearing her speak first hand was a wonderful way to spend the evenings! I would like to learn more about the roots and shoots program and see if I can implement it locally here in my kids school.

This class has broadened my knowledge on how we as humans are failing our planet. However, it has also provided ways I can adapt and improve on to help restore and preserve. It has fueled my desire to do better. To be better. Thank you Dr Goodall for paving the way, it's now up to us to continue what you started.



This is my first MasterClass and I am so happy. My favorite lesson from Dr. Goodall so far: "What my mother said to me is what I say to young people all around the world. If there is something you really want you’re going to have to (1) work really hard, (2) take advantage of opportunity, and (3) above all never give up." I recently turned 20 and I've been feeling overwhelmed about the climate crisis and feel as if the world is on my shoulders. I changed career paths to take action for the earth, but now that courses are online due to the pandemic I have been feeling hopeless. Dr. Jane Goodall's class is just what I needed to revive my passion and drive.

Kara P.

What an inspiring beginning to this course! Dr. Jane is so humble, grateful, and honest about her journey towards living her dream in Africa. Hearing her talk about her mother's parenting and her experiences with animals as a child, I think about the importance of play and inquiry-based learning in young children. As a teacher of children aged 3-8, I encourage wondering, questioning, and exploring, and am learning to save the telling and explaining for after that exciting experience of discovery, like Dr. Jane's mother did. Her message is also a reminder to get our kids outside as often as possible and to get back to celebrating and enjoying nature however we can. Developing an appreciation for nature will give us the motivation to do more to protect it. I'm looking forward to learning from Dr. Jane what I can do to contribute to conservation of our environment and species.

A fellow student

This was a wonderful start to the course. There is an entitled air about the way that I live my life today, and I can forget how women were not always given as many opportunities as they are now. I am working on these detrimental beliefs, and her story is a good reminder that I still need to actively work for things in my life. Her Mother was very nurturing and supportive of her questioning nature, and I am so grateful for that. Imagine if he mother had been someone different? We may never have been given the opportunity to learn from her today. Jane Goodall worked for what she wanted. She looked at all changes/obstacles/occurrences in her life as opportunities and did not shy away from the difficulties they might present. This is an inspirational start to the course, and I am very excited to continue.

Bernardo F.

Wonderful history. I think one of the most important values is mentioned at the beginning: not disencouraging children, especially when they are doing the right thing. If we cut off their curiosity, their creativity, it all falls down. And thanks to these parents that helped their children is that we have people like Jane.

Grace K.

Hearing Dr. Jane talk about not limiting herself and not quitting on her dreams because she was a woman reminded me of the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt "Well behaved women rarely make history." Also, I think that hearing about Dr. Janes struggles to get to Africa is especially important to today's youth, because so many of them want everything they want to be handed to them on a silver platter, they want everything to be fair, but everything was not always "fair" for Jane, and look how much she grew and learned from it! I think she seems so genuinely and honestly invested in the well being of our planet, which is so refreshing in today's society where people are often doing and talking about these things for personal gain. I can't wait to watch more of her lessons!

Kim M.

I find it amazing how her mother let her curiosity and excitement as a child build her foundation for being a scientist. Not all parents would do the same. What an incredible story and upbringing!!

Antonia T.

I'm a bit shocked that somebody like Jane speaks of Africa like it was a country, and not a continent. Never understood why people treat Africa that way. I love animals too, but I never understood the people who put animals above human beings. I'm a bit skeptical about this masterclass but I hope it's interesting and inspiring.

A fellow student

I am captivated by Ms. Goodall. She has been my hero since I was a child and hearing her speak of her humble beginning and how her adventures began was just an amazing experience.

Mia M.

Personally Im pretty you but steamer for my age and in all honesty, I found this fascinating.I have always been amazed by Jane's working this game me a lot of insight and understanding of her time in Africa.

A fellow student

It's amazing to learn the beginning of Jane's story. The fact that she did not go to college and had to work as a waitress to save money for her initial opportunity to go to Africa was surprising and inspiring. I admire her for being so interested in the subject of Africa to do research and educate herself enough to impress a man like Leakey. Her passion and hard work were clear for him to see and resulted in her first opportunity to go on assignment to study chimpanzees.