The dissection of animals in schools has been going on for far too long, especially since there are many great alternatives. According to the Humane Society, there are approximately 12 million vertebrate and invertebrate creatures dissected each year in schools. I’m going to tell you about some of these new methods, but first I’m going to say a bit about the first time I personally encountered dissection.
I took biology in the tenth grade. The syllabus our teacher gave us the first day had the dates of the dissections we were going to do on it. There were two seperate days, one for the worm and another for the frog. When the time came for the worm, I let the professor know that I was not going to participate, so I pretty much just sat in the group and watched my fellow students tear apart a worm. Unfortunatley, this was when I really realized that people geniunely don’t think of these beings as living, breathing creatures. One of my lab partners decided to chop up the worm and feed it to the class fish, toss around its organs and play with the body. That was disgusting enough, but it couldn’t live up to what was done to the frog.
To my dismay, I was in the same lab group the second time around, although I still didn’t have to participate. Not only did they tear apart its body, they carried the frog’s skin around for the rest of the day throwing it at people. They continued to feed parts of the frog to the fish (why the teacher didn’t stop this I don’t know – obviously he either wasn’t very observant or just didn’t give a damn). I also stopped eating meat in the tenth grade. I’m sure it was probably one of the subconscious reasons I went vegetarian.
Anyway, I’m sure most of us have such stories we can share. But, like I said before, there are alternatives. One of the most obvious in this digital age we live in is virtual dissection. No mess, no cruel children, but a great look at the biology of various animals. Since most non-vegans fail to recognize that animals other than cute, fuzzy dogs and cats are important, the animals always dissected are ugly, slimy little creatures, such as squid (as I also saw in my marine biology class). With virtual dissection, students could explore the insides of all animals, even humans, without getting their hands dirty. In the long run it would prove to be cheaper, as there is no longer the cost of shipping the animals to the school.
There is also the more traditional graphics. Even though it’s not as hands on as virtual dissection, it still does the trick.
A step above pictorial graphics are models. Companies can produce scale models of animals out of plastic, complete with sections that can be taken apart for further inspection. This would be great for use in schools, since it still gives the hands-on experience.
I’m personally a fan of computer programs used in place of dissections. I also think students would embrace the change to clean, digital dissections. The American Anti-Vivisection Society has put together an very extensive list of specific alternatives. Click here to view it.