Down and dirty

June 2, 2008

I appreciate the interest of animal-rights activists in saving the lives of poor, oppressed frogs, so I can understand their advocacy of computer software that lets students do virtual dissections. But this is going a little far:

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.

If the teacher took the kids out to shoot cats and dogs, that would be desensitizing, but dissecting frogs? I confess to being one of the kids who was grossed out by the frog-dissection requirement. I would have welcomed the ability to do the whole thing by computer simulation. And that’s probably OK for most kids.

But what about the ones who are going to pursue careers in science and medicine? For them, I think the teacher gets it right who says nothing can duplicate the smell, feel and texture of cutting into a real frog.  “It’s not the same as the real thing,” Perillo said. “To actually cut through the tissue, see how the skin layers feel, the textures, the way the organs look inside the body, I think that can’t be duplicated. “Its like trying to become a gardener without touching the dirt.”

Put it this way: You want a first-time surgeon (they all have to have the first one sometime) operating on you who until then had only experienced dissecting a virtual cadaver?

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3 Responses to “Down and dirty”

  1. Doug Says:

    I think it does desensitize people. But, for the reasons you point out, I think some degree of desensitization is necessary. Now, if you get to the point where kids are wetting the bed, starting fires, and torturing animals, trouble is brewing.

  2. Harl Delos Says:

    I think you’ll find that wetting the bed is usually a physiological problem, rather than a psychological one. Many kids simply sleep too deep. And when I was a kid, I was supposed to start fires, immediately after carrying the trash out to the barrel.

    Part of becoming an adult is learning to do things that you previously were uncomfortable doing.

    Many kids are initially uncomfortable in a locker room, but it’s important that they learn where modesty is appropriate, and where it’s inappropriate; otherwise, they grow up to be flashers or window-peepers, etc.

    Many kids are initially uncomfortable sticking their fingers into ground meat, but that’s part of learning to make hamburger patties, meat loaf, etc.; otherwise, they grow up to be vegetarians, PeTA members or other social misfits.

    Many kids are initially uncomfortable driving a car, but that’s part of learning to survive in the modern world; otherwise, they grow up to become sprout-eating volvo-owning Democrats.

    Many kids are initially uncomfortable sharing their toys, but that’s part of learning how to be a taxpayer; otherwise, they grow up to be Republicans.

  3. gadfly Says:

    Having been “borned and raised”(as they say in West “By God” Virgina) not more than ten miles from the site of Wheeling Park HS, I can tell you that “back when”, all self-respecting high school biology teachers had students dissecting frogs.

    Somehow I missed out on the experience …probably because I wouldn’t touch a frog or toad because they caused warts, doncha’ know? However, the kids attending Triadelphia HS back then most probably were not as “chicken” as I was.

    Hmm …someone told me that frog legs taste like chicken.


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