By Shirley Zavala and Jose Mendoza
As we all know once you reach senior year, you have the option to choose your own science class; whether that be AP Chemistry, Robotics or Anatomy is up to you. But most students who want to get into the medical field require biology and anatomy. Anatomy is defined as the study of body parts visible to the naked eye, such as the heart and bones. Which means students study bodies of animals in depth to understand how they function. This also means they have to cut up and open up the bodies of animals like rabbits, frogs, cats, etc. We set out to find out what people think about using dissecting animals for the purpose of learning.
We first asked biology students what their favorite part about biology was or what they were excited about. Sophomore student Andres Villalobos said that his class he was very close to dissecting a frog in Biology class. He told us he was excited to cut into the frog and so we asked if he felt bad about it in any way. He said, “I don’t wanna say that I feel good about cutting a frog or I feel bad about cutting a frog, honestly I just don’t feel anything when it comes to cutting up animals for scientific reasons”.
While other students expressed their concerns about having to cut through and animal in Biology class. One sophomore student Edrei said, “They experienced that already so I feel like they could just tell you”. What Andrei means by this is that other people in the medical field who have already dissected specimens for scientific research can just tell others about the functions in the body.
But this might not be ideal for students since they will miss out on a significant learning opportunity. We asked a senior in anatomy class on his thoughts around dissections as a whole and he said: “I like it because it gives you hands-on experience, you get to see what’s inside, you get to see all the organs, muscles, the skeleton”.
Then we asked on what the benefits or if negatives there is to anatomy class regarding the use of animals. He said, “There are benefits and then there are downsides, on one hand, you’re killing animals just for these kids in class, but on the other hand, there’s that hands-on experience I was talking about…It all just depends on what you care more about, the ethics or the experience.”
And this is a key point in the discussion on the morality of animal dissections. Does the value of what the students learn to outweigh the cost of it? Should animals be treated better, and allowed to live? We asked the biology/anatomy teacher at APB, Ms. Ohara on her thoughts.
“They learn about the structures of the human body and the functions associated with each of the structures,” says Ms. Ohara. “Everything from the reproductive system to the muscles and in general how the body maintain homeostasis”
“There are some drawbacks, and it makes some students uncomfortable, I agree with that, but I also think like I am a science teacher, I think like things should be hands-on and so I always encourage that in science”
There are clearly benefits to performing dissection in anatomy and biology; no doubt about it. Those who go on to study medicine will need that experience when working with live human beings. In the end, dissections have been commonplace in science classrooms for several decades now, and their value when it comes to helping students learn cannot be understated.