A recent study by Lakehead University researcher Jan Oakley highlights the need for clear dissection opt-out policies for secondary school students in Ontario. Students are often pressured into participation in dissection despite the availability of humane alternatives. Humane alternatives have been demonstrated to be as good as, or even superior to, traditional pedagogies using animals.
Here is an abstract of the paper:
This paper highlights the voices and experiences of individuals who objected to animal dissection in their high school science and biology classes. The data were collected via online surveys (n = 311), and 8 of these participants took part in more in-depth telephone interviews. Participants were former students from Ontario, Canada, who discussed their experiences with animal dissection in general, and objection to dissection in particular, if applicable. The findings reveal that students who expressed objection to dissection experienced a range of teacher responses, including pressure to participate, the request to join another group of students and watch, the choice to use a dissection alternative, warnings of compromised grades, and other responses. The study points to the importance of choice policies to ensure that dissection alternatives are available in classrooms. In this way, students can select among different options of how they would like to learn, and teachers can be prepared to accommodate those who choose not to dissect.
Citation: Oakley, J. (2013). “I Didn’t Feel Right About Animal Dissection:” Dissection Objectors Share Their Science Class Experiences. Society & Animals, 21, 360-378
The goal presented here is choice — students can decide whether they choose to dissect or not. I would suggest that some more basic questions need to be addressed. For example, what is this obsession with the organs of a frog? These students don’t even know where their own liver etc is. Why is it considered so important in 2014 to be able to identify a frog’s liver? These creatures have suffered extreme abuse. Is cruelty to animals to be considered a choice?
This is a very relevant point indeed!
If “choice policies” is to be the route, then it should be an informed choice. For example, before students make their decision, they should be informed about the extreme suffering of creatures raised in biological supplies facilities, and the negative environmental effects of taking these creatures from the wild. If fetal pigs are used, students should be informed as to how the sale of these fetal pigs contributes financially to agribusiness and its barbaric operations.
I suggest that QAD make a questionnaire to give high school students in this area and ask them questions about their experiences with dissections. I would include a section where students are asked if they know various facts about where the lab creatures come from, and if this would influence their choice.