Finding Future Surgeons, Without All The Icky Stuff

[Canadian Press] That’s what animal rights activists in West Virginia had in mind when they donated Canadian interactive software that replicates a frog dissection to Wheeling Park High School.

Marilyn Grindley, a member of the Ohio County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said dissecting animals “desensitizes kids.”

“It tells them that we do not have any respect for any animal.”

She wants to end the practice.

The rest

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4 responses to “Finding Future Surgeons, Without All The Icky Stuff

  1. Michael Teper

    I don’t see the big problem with high school boards of education choosing not to conduct animal dissections. High school surgeons are “future surgeons” in the sense that third-graders are “future astronauts”. Probably less than 1% – 2% go on work in a field where dissection skills will be relevant – the rest will become CPAs, bricklayers, piano tuners, or whatever.

    Teaching dissection skills to the 98% of high school students who will have no use for it seems to be a waste of time and money, and it is pretty gross. I remember making a repulsive mess of a perfectly good formaldehyde-packed rabbit. Now I’m a tax attorney and much good the experience did me.

    DWE: And that’s the point. The experience did you a lot of good. You teach things to find out who is good at something, who is not, who likes it, who doesn’t. Find skills, find interest. Waiting until med school to find out if a guy will chuck his cookies at cutting through skin is a waste of time and money for the student and the state. With one rabbit, you found medicine wasn’t up your alley. You’re better off. So are we.

  2. DWE,
    I think it unlikely that someone who has little interest in medicine as a career will discover it from dissecting a frog. If it is important to have those who do have the interest find out if they can handle cutting up an animal, the option of using a real animal can be offered to select students (not just those with the interest in doing it but very good grades also, since medical school is very demanding academically).
    There’s still no need for most students to do the physical dissection.

    DWE: When frogs have more backbone than the science students, the country’s had it. Math requires times tables. Literature requires writing. Biology requires blood and guts. After the wimp’s done his Big Mac bovine lunch, tell him to hit the lab and finish his assignment.

  3. DWE,
    Why does biology require blood and guts? You are right that math requires times tables, because a student who cannot multiply has not learned the basic concepts of arithmetic. And while I am not sure that appreciating literature requires writing, good writing is a basic aim of literature classes. But what is it that biology classes are trying to teach that requires blood and guts? We did the dissections in my 10th grade biology class, but I remember that my teacher said that what he most wanted us to take away from his class was a sense of the basic similarities in all living things, as well as an improved vocabulary from learning to recognize the various Greek and Latin word roots used in science. Virtual dissections would have accomplished that as well.

    I’ve never been squeamish. I had no trouble cutting up an earthworm and a frog in that biology class. But my mother was a strong supporter of animals rights, and in 7th grade I had objected to dissecting a frog on ethical grounds. That was long before laws such as the ones 14 states now have to allow students to opt out of dissection labs. There’s nothing wimpy about telling a teacher you don’t want to do what every other student takes for granted because you think it is morally wrong. That takes guts – just a different kind from the dissection lab.

    DWE: We had it as “literature requires reading,” but we changed it to, “literature requires writing,” because we wanted to see who the first moron would be to try and call us out. That would be you. Studying literature requires writing because you have to write papers and exams in English lit class, not just read the book while taking a dump and then put it on the shelf (the book, not the dump).

    Sooner or later, biology requires cutting. Unfair, we know, but just the way it is.

  4. Most English lit classes do require writing, but it is not intrinsic to the study of literature. I had a literature class in grad school in which we discussed all the books orally rather than writing papers. (That was the only lit class I ever got a B in, because I’m better at writing than oral discussions.) As it happens, that was a Spanish lit class, not English lit, but I’m sure the same pedagogical method could be used in an English lit class.

    Sorry you think that makes me a moron.

    You say, “Sooner of later, biology requires cutting.” I would say, that would be later, for students who plan to actually pursue a career in biology, medicine, or a related field. You still haven’t explained why the educational objectives of high school biology require cutting animals.

    DWE: We explained it in the title of the original post. We’re going in circles now.

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