Saturday, May 14, 2005

Class Dissects Live Dog

Via Pharygula (who defends it), a teacher dissects a live dog in biology class. (Link changed)

Pharygula's argument was that the dog was to be euthanized anyway, it was sedated, and he experienced a strong sense of the wonder of science the first time he saw the working organs of a mammal. I would agree that all his points are legitimate but based on my experiences, this probably turned more students off science than it helped.

Unless this class was made of hand-picked AP students, I doubt if many got anything positive out of the experience. Judging on the students I've seen, most have more intense emotional reactions to dogs and cats than they do humans (I've seen girls look at battle field photographs from WWI and say, "Look at all the dead horses.")

There's not enough information given to say for sure but I would imagine this nudged students towards positions of "science-is-gross" and "scientists-just-hurt-animals-and-waste-tax-money." Distrust and disconnection from scientists could lead towards anything from acceptance of creationism to believing medical claims in spam.

I would not be against this if the teacher offered it as an after-school project but, unless the students in this school are completely different from kids in Ohio, I think this was a mistake.

Update: Okay, it was a substitute teacher who selected 16- and 17-year old girls to go on a field trip with him? Why am I now thinking there was more on his mind than just science?

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