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Time To Rethink Dissection In Schools

Updated on September 25, 2014

Time To Rethink Dissection In Schools

Thousands of earthworms, clams, starfish, frogs, fetal pigs, mice, cats, mink, squid and perch are dissected each year in middle schools and high schools. This is the way it has been done since the 1920s and many believe this is the way it should continue to be done. Most of these specimens are grown in a laboratory, farm or breeding center specifically for the purpose of school dissection but some are collected from natural habitats.

The question is, should this practice continue or is it outdated and unnecessary?

Image source: Virtual Pig Dissection, an excellent alternative resource for student dissection.

This page was made for charity. All proceeds will be donated to The Wild Animal Sanctuary a 320 acre sanctuary where Large Carnivores - the species that face euthanization more than any other exotic animal - are protected or the rest of their lives. For more information on the captive wildlife crisis and why sanctuaries such as the Wild Animal Sanctuary are so important, please go here.

Why Dissect?

I teach high school biology and all students coming into the class assume we will be dissecting something. I have had my students in the past dissect clams, starfish, fish, earthworms, rats, fetal pigs and cow eyeballs.

Why did we dissect? Truthfully, we dissected not because it was a critical component of learning the material, because truthfully it is not, nor because it is a critical component of the state standards, because it is not, but because it was expected by students, parents, other teachers and administrators. Its always been done in biology class and therefore it shall continue to be done, everyone does it and you should too.

Intiially there is novelty and engagement as students have a preserved animal in front of them. Many would argue that it is an excellent hands on laboratory experience, but there are so many excellent hands on laboratory experiences available today, in all different aspects of the biological sciences, that this is a weak argument at best.

I have personally decided that these reasons are not good enough reasons for me to continue to dissect in the classroom, especially when viable alternatives exist and I have moved away from it. Many universities are moving away from dissection in the classroom as well.

Below are my concerns with dissection in the classroom.

Dissection Is A Weak Learning Tool

I have taken part in many dissections over the course of my teaching career and have observed many different reactions from students. The students are usually engaged at the start of the dissection as it is novel to have a preserved animal in front of them. Once this novelty wears off, they get tired of the experience, complain about the smell, and learn more from the pictures in the lab manual as they are clearer and easier to identify, than from the actual animal in front of them. During dissection, they search for individual internal structures that they are expected to find and memorize, this is the lowest level of learning on Bloom’s learning taxonomy.

Dissection is not an integral part of the biology learning essentials or the Colorado High School standards, the state in which I teach. It is also not in the index or glossary of the text we use in class. Dissection is just one tool that can be used to teach the concepts or anatomy and physiology, many other viable alternatives exist (see below) and can be used as effectively or more effectively than dissection.

Find Excellent Anatomy Resources Here


The Source of The Animals Used In Dissection Is Uncertain

We should be able to verify and communicate to the students we teach the origin of the animals used in class. Students always ask where the animals come from. The truth is, we don't really know, the sourcing is hidden. When you call and ask any of the many science supply distribution companies we usually order from, they don't fully know either. Cats are said to come from the humane society, but this is false. According to PETA many cats used for dissection are stolen or abandoned companion animals. Slaughterhouses and pet stores also sell animals and animal parts to biological supply houses. Even some pounds and animal shelters sell animals to biological supply companies, which in turn sell them to schools. Some animals, come from Mexico, raised entirely for the purpose of dissection. Cow parts and fetal pigs are thought to be a by-product of the slaughter industry.

Frogs are the most commonly dissected animal in schools. The World Conservation Union's 2004 report found that a third of all amphibians worldwide are threatened with extinction. At least six million frogs alone are captured in the wild and killed for dissection each year in the U.S. The large-scale removal of them from the wild exacerbates their already fragile populations. As frog populations continue to decline in the wild, insect populations continue to rise. This can lead to increased use of pesticides by farmers who once relied on frogs to help control insects naturally.

Students want to know that the animals they are dissecting lived a happy life and died naturally. This is not the case of any of the animals they are asked to dissect, they know it and it makes them uncomfortable.

Photo taken from : a site for students made my students to speak out about animal dissection.

Student Quote

“I don’t like animals to die just so we can dissect them, especially when there are alternatives that are just as educational. Also, I don’t like that it is bad for the environment.”


Questionable Chemicals Used In Preserving Dissection Animals

Dissection exposes children to unnecessary health hazards. Formaldehyde, a substance still commonly used to preserve animals for dissection, is classified as a known human carcinogen. Along with being linked with an increased risk for cancer of the throat, lungs, and nasal passages, formaldehyde can trigger allergies and often causes headaches and irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory system-even at very low levels.

As awareness of the problems associated with formaldehyde rise, many companies have switched to different chemicals used in the preservation of dissection specimens. In many cases, it is impossible to figure out what exactly these chemicals are as the manufacturers do not list them, nor do they state them in their catalogs or on their internet sites. Many say 100% formaldehyde free but that does not necessarily mean that they are formalin free. Formalin, is formaldehyde dissolved in methanol. Formalin is not less toxic than formaldehyde; it is considered a hazardous substance and classified as a potential carcinogen.

Most classrooms are not designed with ventilation systems equipped to handle high concentrations of a toxic chemical such as formaldehyde or formalin.

The Cost Of Dissection Is High, The Cost of Disposal Is High

Dissection animals are expensive. Students pay a lab fee at the start of the year for various laboratory materials to be used throughout the year. Animal dissection takes up most of these fees. Spending the vast majority of our fees on one unit of study (anatomy) that is not part of the essential learnings, is objectionable. Many organizations now offer free loan programs through which teachers and students can borrow non-animal alternatives at no charge. Using these alternatives would free up much of the student fees to be used for other valuable learning objectives, labs and activities.

In the past, to dispose of the animals, we simply put them in the garbage can. This does not follow current policies of the local disposal services. It is not appropriate for animal carcasses to be disposed of in landfills. This year new disposal methods have been implemented within our school district. These new methods are costly and involve numerous steps on the part of the teacher to fulfill.

All Life Deserves Respect

Dissection teaches students how to mutilate and dismember animals instead of teaching a respect for life. Every living thing from the tiniest insect to the mighty elephant has its part, its role in the very life and fabric of the planet. Frogs are in decline worldwide, is it right to dissect one without regard for species depletion? Is it morally ok to raise an animal just so it can be cut up by a high school student then tossed in the trash? I personally believe we should be shifting our teaching toward an appreciation of natural life-cycles and the beauty and connectivity of all living creatures. Studies suggest that exposing young people to animal dissection as “science” can foster a callousness toward animals and nature and even dissuade some from pursuing careers in science. It is possible that through dissection students may emerge with an attitude that some creatures have little, to no value. They are disposable. This is the very last thing I wish to teach my students.

What Do You Think?

Should Schools Continue To Dissect?

Yes, its a great activity and learning opportunity

Yes, its a great activity and learning opportunity

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    • anonymous 3 years ago

      There may be quite a few cons to dissecting in Biology class, but I believe that it is something that ever student should have gone through. The alternatives may be a much more humane way to do it, but there is still nothing like handling a real life animal and physically studying it. Again dissecting may have quite a few cons, but the only chance most students may ever have to dissect a living species will probably be in biology class!?

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      I think schools should have a choice if they would like to dissect in classes or not. Many kids like the experience but on the other hand many don't. I believe dissection is a great learning tool but there are other related learning options. Dissection is a hands on activity that should still be continued in our classroom.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      yeah!! part of experience..

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      yeah!! part of experience..

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I have been teaching high school biology and anatomy for many years. I have never seen the reaction that you are making in your article. Dissection is a great learning tool that spurs the interest of the young mind. I would hate to think that I was being treated by a doctor that feels the same way you do about dissection. I love animals as much as you do,but I also see the need for thieir use in learning and research. It sounds like you have been reading some PITA pamplets.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I think disseection is really a great activity because I truly love seeing blood and killing animals

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      cool man

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I teach at the college level. I use a bit of everything in my classroom. We do dissect some specimens and we also view live animals. I think one thing that you do not point out in your argument is the universal good that comes from hands-on experience and understanding of material. Simply looking at something in a book will never fully take the place of actually seeing how organs are placed and connected. I think that dissection isnât necessary for non-science majors but for those of us who are going into science based careers doing dissection is very important.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      I don't want to be operated on by a doctor that has never dissected anything and has only looked at internal organs in text books. Real dissection is a necessary precusor for many of the biological sciences.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      Yes iam going to do it. Because it,s good to learn

    • Mighty-Monkey-Man 5 years ago

      I thought that you presented your point very well, however, I don't think you should have cited PETA. This is an extremist group, that does very little to accurately educate. Great lens though. Maybe everyone shouldn't dissect though. I think it's very important for many fields, namely biology fields, but maybe it is too valuable a resource to be wasted on all public school students. However I will vote yes since you didn't leave me a better option :)

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      Yes they should be continued because it a wonderful experience and so what if they die your eating animals every day, so why should it even be abolished when you are giving your child a great opportunity to try something new

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      It's better than cutting up a human to learn. When I have surgery, I want a Dr. that has experience and has learned through hands-on procedures such as fetal pig dissection. Maybe you should be concerned with more serious problems such as abortion, or keeping steroids out of T-ball.

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      I disagree with you. I can memorize all the charts and pictures that I want but it still helps me very little when it comes time to do the actual dissection. It helps me immensely if I can touch, move, cut, and observe the organ or blood vessel in question. Pictures are one-dimensional and do little to help you prepare for the real thing.

      You ended by saying that dissection can "foster a callousness toward animals and nature and even dissuade some from pursuing careers in science."

      To that I say, well let them leave! If they happen to do a dissection and find that it's not for them then by all means, don't try to further convince them to pursue a medical or biological career. You neglected to mention how many people decided to go into science because of dissection and I find this to be a flaw in your final argument. I personally loved the hands-on aspect of dissection and as a result of that (as well as other factors) I did decide to pursue a career as a biologist. I actually wish that we could do more lab projects like it in college but so far the only one we've done is a fetal pig.

      Don't get me wrong, I love animals. I want to help them as well as people and I in no way believe that having done dissections in the past has caused me to become less appreciative of them. It is quite the opposite. I believe that I respect them more after learning how they work and how little I actually know about them. I look at a cat and marvel at how high it can jump and wonder how it can achieve this. This I think is the real purpose of dissection. You gain an appreciation for how the body works that you cannot get through textbooks and memorization. A textbook is just a textbook and a test is just a test. You gain no respect for the actual creature if you only ever look at pictures and drawn diagrams.

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      i think that dissecting animals is not only educational but a fun for teens to do.

    • Emily Tack 7 years ago from USA

      I wish we had three choices here, as I also have mixed feeling about dissection. I did not like it, in school. However, I loved all aspects of science, and still do. To think of being operated on, by a surgeon who had never actually cut into any type of flesh before - is horrifying. Yet, i do not care for the idea of animals being sacrificed for dissection. This one, is a tough one, admittedly. I must say that I would have opted for: I am really undecided.

    • lgendrot 7 years ago

      I just dissected a rat in my biology lab the other day, I found it to be a very rewarding experience. I don't think, however, that it should necessarily by mandatory learning material, perhaps the students can front the bill of the dissection if they plan on doing it. For people like me, who actually care enough to want to dissect the animal for the learning not just the novelty of it, it's quite a rewarding experience and I appreciate the opportunity.

    • burgessvillian 7 years ago

      I have mixed feelings. Some students in jr. and sr. high might not be interested and that should be their choice, but a great deal of info can come from it. I wouldn't want a surgeon who learned by virtual graphics only.

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      Schools should give those students who are interested in pursuing a career in the biological sciences an opportunity to decide for themselves.

      The posed question does NOT infer HIGH school. University is school and dissections are essential in the pursuit of the biological sciences.

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      Yes. Enough of these Left Wing zealots trying to remake our educational system in their image.

    No way, There are so many other options now available.

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      • anonymous 3 years ago

        I think raising an animal just so it can grow then be killed to be dissected is wrong. I understand that dissecting an animal can let students learn how the body of different animals work. The fact that our way of learning is by dissecting an animal that should be respected no matter what is sad. All animals should die naturaly, (except for specific scenorios like Rabies, or seriousness ilness). We should try to be perserving species, not killing them. Even though I don't like rats that much or mice, i would rather have them die naturally then be killed by people and shipped to schools.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        Teaching kids to mutilate animals and have them killed just for the purpose of "learning" is absurd. With all the new technology, we should be focused on actually learning the material instead of wasting time on dissecting animals. I also feel that our health is more important than dissecting animals and that we shouldn't expose ourselves to chemicals like that. Especially as teens, when we are growing and developing the most.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        I think dissection is an experience everyone should have but than again some people don't like the idea of killing a living thing just to cut it open and get rid of also contains harmful chemicals that students shouldn't be purposely exposed to when there are other, safer options available to learn about anatomy. It also costs a lot of money that could be put towards other things especially in districts that are doing budget cuts.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        With all the new and advanced technology that we have available to us now, I do not think we should still be dissecting animals. Dissecting does make many people uncomfortable and a lot of people that don't want to touch the animal miss out on the learning part anyway because they are not participating.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        I've never really enjoyed dissections and i agree with all these statements. Dissection was probably an important aspect of learning in the past but now there are so many more opinions that are better and don't threaten lives of innosent animals. If a species are in danger like the frogs why would we be killing thousands a year for schools when we can go on a virtual dissection on the enternet and not kill any. We can save the frogs! (:

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        I think that disection should not be apart of the basic biology and science classes. Not only did this article show how dissection is not only costly but also many kids do not want to be involved in cutting up these animals. For the regular class I think that there is many other good oppertunities to learn about the animal. Maybe dissection could be helpful in advance or special classes where you go deeper into the subject, but for just learning the different parts of the animal and the bascis I don't believe it is necessary to disect an animal.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        I've never liked having to dissect animals in school and this article gives me a few more reasons to stand by my opinion. I totally agree with this article because of the dangers and hazards it brings to light. When I was dissecting animals in my 7th grade biology class I knew that the animals were expensive and I could tell by the stench in the room that the animals were soaked in a numerous list of toxic chemicals. My teacher didn't pay much attention to it, even though kids were coughing (including me) because of the chemicals. I also agree with the reality that these helpless animals are raised for slaughter. No animal should be brought up just to have a middle school or high school kid cut you up and then toss you in the garbage. Honestly I think schools would benefit if there were no more dissections but instead having a real life replica made of plastic or rubber that displays the parts of a animals body in front of the students. That way no animals would be slaughtered and none of the students would be exposed to the toxic chemicals.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        I believe that dissection practices in middle and high school is a waste of the student's, and teacher's, time and money. It's also a brutal and inhumane waste of the lives of these poor animals. I can see how dissection would be important at a college levels, for students who are sure what they want to do. For example, if a college student wants to become a surgeon or veterinarian, then it makes sense that they take part in dissection, as they need it for the field they want to join. But as far as middle and high school students, who have no idea what they want to do most of the time, it's really just a complete waste of time and effort on the student's part. They don't learn any more cutting into and innocent animal than they would from a diagram in a textbook.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        I think dissection is an impact with positives and negatives involved. Itâs a negative impact for students who are weak around harming animals. Harming animals is wrong in my opinion but dissection is also a great opportunity to learn and have that kind of real life experience, but if there are other alternatives that have the same impact and experience as dissecting, then I donât think dissection is a necessary thing that has to be done in a Biology class.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        It's PETA not PITA

        and there are so many alternatives you don't even need to research on animals any more.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        I am in high school currently and I am strongly against animal dissection. I honestly think it is just a waste of time, money, and the life of another being. I know of no one who in high school is absolutely positive that they will become a surgeon either working with animals or humans. Seriosly, we are high school students and it is not like any one of my classmates is going to become a vet anytime soon. You have to go to a certain medical school to learn about this particular career path. So, when someone says that they don't want to have surgery done by a surgeon who has never actually dissected an animal, that is just the stupidist comment I have ever heard. What difference does it make whether or not a person dissected an animal during their high school years? It makes absolutely no difference. Even if a person chooses to dissect an animal or human, they should at least be taught a lesson on the importance of life and know where the body came from and hopefully they will use a body that died of natural causes. We have no right to take the life away from another just for our own convenience.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        Cheb, you are sick in the head!! And how about use child killers, murders, animal killers etc. for some good old hands on training?!

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        It is a bad idea. we are dissecting now and I am having serveral reactions to the chemicals used to perserve the cats. I seem to be the only one out of 15. Even though I am sensitive to chemicals, there is no other option in my school.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        I think that it is wrong and that there are alternatives to hacking up an animal for science.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        It is good to see others standing up for what is right. I am a biology and marine biology hs teacher that does not do any dissections. Biology is the study of life not death!

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        no they should not/ it is wrong in a multiple number of ways

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        Thanks God that there is at least one enlightened person that can see that this is midevil to dissect. No one would agree to disect a puppy, who are pigs different???

        Furthermore, the US is the only country in the world that dissects in every anatomy or biology course and I do not see that they are in any way better at school or medical fields

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        NO, are you trying to teach students to mutilate animals, i watch a lot f tv shows abput killers dissection othr people and learned the skills frim a 7th grade and H.S sciene class i know this is prbably NOT true only used for TV purposes but still were teaching children to dissect nimals who knows they might go hime and kill andimals so they can practice and get a good grade in science class!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        No in science we are to dissect earthworms next week many of my classmates say there going to skip school reading this stronly makes me not want to participate in this activity even if the cost is failing scienceand for the fact it utterly disgusts me to even think of this in my class we have 3 vegetarians non of which are even interested in ooking at the photos so id have to say NO to dissection! it is bad for the enviorment and students have no interst in it!!!!

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        I think the way they treat animals in this process is just as bad as in a slaughterhouse, if not worse. I could understand dissecting if it involved frogs or any animals that had lived a nice, long life not in a cage, or was "kidnapped", but not when the conditions are like this.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        NO WAY!!!im using this site as help to my essay im writing ;)

      • oldmedic 5 years ago

        I think that dissection should only be performed at medical or vet schools. Otherwise it is useless.

      • SteveKaye 5 years ago

        This is the main reason I did NOT take biology in high school. I think cutting up animals is disgusting.

      • theholidayplace 5 years ago

        Never did ant school and don't think i missed anything

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        In response to truth101: when animals are eaten, at leats they are nutricious for our body. In dissection we are using the animals for like an hour and then just throwing them out. Also in 2004 1/3 of all amphibian species were on the verge of extinction!

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        Dissection is a cruel an unnecesary procedure. This needs to be stopped for good!!!

      • anonymous 5 years ago


      • anonymous 5 years ago

        hell no

      • Rose Jones 5 years ago

        There are other options and very little to be gained.

      • Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

        I think method is outdated for most of students. Only certain areas (surgery for example) need this kind of practice.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        It's really gross. As a vegitarian, I know that I don't even have animals die for my dinner - let alone so young kids can butcher them and tease others with thier tounges and brains. With websites like these, people can get the knowledge without the repeated death. I truly agree with "Common Sense", but if issues like these are tackled, then people can worry about these more important topics.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        I'm 12 years old. In 2 days, my science will be dissecting sheep eyeballs. I am getting ready to present my position to my teacher after class. I will honestly cut class (i never never do so so far in my life) if i have to dissect a sheep eyeball.

        Maybe a few animals of each spices had to die at the beginning. But now that we know how they work, be can make viral dissections and model ones. I think that in medical school, it ok to dissect people who have chosen to give their body to science, but otherwise, no.

        It's gross and disrespectful and wrong.

      • NorDac LM 5 years ago

        For your basic student I think it is unnecessary. There are however some field where this sort of hands on work is useful, for those dissection should be available

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        absolutely not. There is no reason for us to continue to murder animals for our own personal knowledge that is just as obtainable through books and online dissections. It is bad for the environment, the animals, and makes the population that much more comfortable with the idea of murdering animals for personal gain.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        There is no need to dissect an animal, its life should be priceless and the student`s health, too. I don`t want to expose my body to a carcinogen.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        As a teacher, I agree with you 100%! Students learn little that is related to curriculum. Students are exposed to carcinogens once, but the teacher is exposed to carcinogens OVER and OVER again. Dissection is not an important life skill. Those that do go on into medicine, where the skills are obviously more important, will learn them at a much higher level than anything they'd ever get in high school. It is far better to foster a respect for life alive in its natural habitat than dead in a lab pan.

      • Linda Pogue 6 years ago from Missouri

        With all the interactive videos and learning programs available now, dissections are totally unnecessary.

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        I think school dissections are cruel to animals. I am dissecting a mink in my Anatomy class as we speak and i have gotten the symptoms that formaldehyde cause. Dissections are not safe and are unnecessary.

      • The Goblins Den 6 years ago

        Nah, I don't see any need for dissection. When I was in school, the students who weren't grossed out by it quickly became bored with it. One idiot even ringed out a frog like it was a wash cloth to get laughs. Not respectful, to say the least.

      • I001l01I02l 6 years ago

        no. students can not focus on learning the parts of an animal while dissecting. girls normally gross out and boys would sooner or later play with the body of the dead animal (the frog, for example). just this year we had dissected a frog, and we didn't even label the parts correctly in our hand out. some of us hadn't labeled anything at all. another thing is the chemicals that are used are harmful. besides, it kills a life worth freedom and respect, and it's high time humans stop thinking our fellow creatures are inferior. so 300cheers for students who don't want to dissect, and may teachers and administrators implement better ways of learning.

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        no way. it's stupid, harmful and and totaly barbaric. we don't need to kill things to learn about body function. NO, never in 10000000 years is it OK.

      • Josiemarie718 7 years ago

        I dissected a fetal pig in 2009 and was not too happy about the experience or the outcome. The experience was almost like a waste of my time. The smell was something i would rather not smell. I could of spent an hour learning about the circulatory and respiratory tracks simply by using reading applications and even computer applications. If I could have been absent that day I would of taken the opportunity to do so. I work in the Student Government in my school. I'm going to see if it is possible to remove this non necessary expense off our academic fees and use it for something much more modern and interesting. Dissecting was BORING!

      • anonymous 7 years ago

        no i šould much ratherenjoŧ frogs and truttles in there natual space ši8ld and free.. i šill admit as achild i had apet truttle mickie šho i retured to šiderness river, he had a nick or chip out of his shell near his tail . ten ŧears later i found mjckie at the rivers edge,lt šas a šonderful feeling i refused to dissect lab

      • hamsterguy 7 years ago

        I didn't know dissecting is so common in the States. It makes me kinda sad. I live in Slovenia, Europe and we have never dissected anything. I think that is completely unneccessary especially in middle schools and high schools.

        So, I vote for NO.

      • anonymous 7 years ago

        Seems like there's not a good reason to dissect actual specimens, and several good arguments against it. I think not, although I did a worm and frog in freshman biology so long ago.

      • norma-holt 7 years ago

        No, there is technology available to present them with mock animals that can display exactly the same experience.

      • hlkljgk 7 years ago from Western Mass

        There is no need for HS students to dissect the real thing. If they are to pursue a medical career, they'll have plenty of opportunity in their post-secondary education.

      • Abagayle 7 years ago

        I nearly threw up when we dissected earthworms in 8th grade. In 9th we were expected to dissect a frog. I was absent that day, with my parent's support. I was "disciplined" for refusing to dissect.

      • Julianne Gentile 7 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio, US

        I think dissection is a horrible idea. It traumatized me in high school, kept me out of further biology classes and now it's upsetting to my daughter, who is refusing to dissect. We have plenty of learning software and models available that killing animals and using nasty chemicals are not necessary.

      • hayleylou lm 7 years ago

        It's cruel and not a nice thing for the kids to do - I wouldn't want to do it either .

      • June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

        I am in favor of anything that respects life in all its forms. Dissection is unnecessary and unnecessarily cruel.

      • lilkon 7 years ago

        Absolutly NOT!!!! It has always been a mystery to me why any teacher of a science class would require such a project. Rather than destroy, create!!!!

      • anonymous 7 years ago

        Absolutely not. There are hundreds of humane alternatives and many students who do not want to participate in such a revolting practice.

      • Andrea R Brown 7 years ago from Fairview

        I dissected a frog once in my life and I would never do it again. It took me the whole class period because I didn't like it. I'm glad there are better option available besides killing animals for this purpose. Because 30 something years ago when I was in HS this was not an option. What did I get out of the dissecting experience, I never want to do this again in my life ever!

      • MissBuffySpears 7 years ago

        No. I think there are better and cheaper alternatives to cutting open a helpless animal. I dissected a starfish in 5th grade and we had no idea what we were doing. I have done other dissections and the class would talk more about how gross it was than actually learning anything. Its outdated and time to move on to better alternatives.

      • callinsky lm 7 years ago

        I don't think it should be done. There is no need for it.

      • Sherry Venegas 7 years ago from La Verne, CA

        For high school you are right about this subject. I respect your view on this because you are in the class room and give observed reasons. There are many educational programs and films that can be used instead. Museum displays and demonstrations would at least narrow the impact.

        "What's inside" is a natural curiosity. New ways to see this should be explored.

      • anonymous 7 years ago

        It's wrong, unnecessary and barbaric and it's time it was stopped. Thanks for your great discussion on the subject.

      • garethjax lm 7 years ago

        Science has progressed so much that we don't need to harm animals in such way anymore!

      • Robin S 7 years ago from USA

        I've never liked it.

      • Mary 7 years ago from Chicago area

        Agree with you!!

      • nightbear lm 7 years ago

        Absolutely not! When I was in nursing training they wanted us to pith a frog and dissect a turtle. I said show me one instance where I would have to do this to a live patient to be able to help them and I would consider it. It went all the way to the president of our school, but it was changed to being voluntary instead of mandatory to pass the class.

      • anonymous 7 years ago

        No! I love your attitude and reasons for choosing not to dissect. There are other options.


      Alternatives To Dissection Exist

      And are of excellent quality

      Alternatives to dissection include overlapping transparencies, histology slides, 3D models, zoology and marine biology coloring books, computer simulations that actually have pictures of real animals, and interactive video presentations.

      According to Dissection "Dissection lacks a key step in the learning process-repetition. Once an animal is cut apart, the exercise cannot be done again. However, computerized techniques allow students to explore human or animal anatomy as often as they like, until they have fully grasped the information. Computer software can now provide detailed, sophisticated graphics, highly interactive features, videos, and in-depth accompanying text.

      Today's synthetic animal models include colorful, life-size, 3-D replicas with labeled pieces that allow the student to hold and replace organs and tissues again and again."

      Photo source and a selection of dissection alternatives like the one shown in this photo can be found at: learning resources

      “Year after year, animals are used to demonstrate the same well-known principles— although sophisticated models, videotapes, and computer simulations have many advantages, including reusability and durability. ... Biology should be the study of life. Dissection ... teaches only death.”

      Eric Dunayer, V.M.D.

      A Sample Of Some Of The Great Alternatives To DIssection Out There

      Student Quote

      “I would not like to study other organisms through dissection because I think the alternatives are just as educational and less harmful.”

      Thanks For Visiting - Comments are appreciated!

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        • profile image

          anonymous 3 years ago

          I totally disagree with this article. As a high school student in biology myself, I believe that dissection is a very important role in the class. It allows students to learn in ways that are not possible when using live animals. For me, dissecting a frog in 7th grade is what got me interested in the biology field. I loved this lab because I was able to see parts of the frog that I would never have been able to by just observing it. None of the students in my class were disrespectful to the animals and I know that we all got a lot out of it. This year, my sophomore year in high school, I am not allowed to dissect any kind of animal. I think this is absolutely ridiculous and is taking away from my learning experience. Being a very tactile learner, I need to use my hands often and learn best by doing dissections. I can assure you I will not get as much out of the class and I definitely not excited to take it anymore. Many people could say that I am being inhumane and am not thinking of the animals. But, all animals are going to die anyway and I think they would rather allow students to learn and get something out of their bodies than just degenerate and be used for nothing. Overall, I completely disagree with this article and I am for any kind of animal dissection.

        • profile image

          SteveKaye 5 years ago

          Great info. Thank you for posting an article on this topic. We need more respect for nature and living things.

        • theholidayplace profile image

          theholidayplace 5 years ago

          Great point and good info, great way to help make your mind about this issue

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          Wow, these are some very awesome points you have here!!

        • Gypzeerose profile image

          Rose Jones 5 years ago

          Thanks for bringing this up! I suppose there might be very rare circumstances - like students who are going to be vets that could profit from this. Angel Blessed.

        • TolovajWordsmith profile image

          Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

          Interesting subject. I believe we, in Slovenia, don't practice dissection in general education for decades now. Only specialists are involved in this.

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          Thanks for this, it helps me frame things for parents and administrators that ask questions about why I don't do dissections. You have all the same reasons as me for questionning animal dissection, minus one that no one ever talks about, and as a teacher, is my biggest concern. There are known carcinogen in most preserved specimens, and we talk about the safety of a student being exposed to them. But what about the teacher, who teaches multiple sections of biology, for years and years on end? How many carcinogens is the teacher exposed to? I think that teachers should have the right, without penalty from the school board, to refuse to have dissections in the classroom, from a legal health and safety perspective.

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          Thanks for this, it helps me frame things for parents and administrators that ask questions about why I don't do dissections. You have all the same reasons as me for questionning animal dissection, minus one that no one ever talks about, and as a teacher, is my biggest concern. There are known carcinogen in most preserved specimens, and we talk about the safety of a student being exposed to them. But what about the teacher, who teaches multiple sections of biology, for years and years on end? How many carcinogens is the teacher exposed to? I think that teachers should have the right, without penalty from the school board, to refuse to have dissections in the classroom, from a legal health and safety perspective.

        • Linda Pogue profile image

          Linda Pogue 6 years ago from Missouri

          The science coloring books give the kinesthectic hands-on learning component for those students who need it, while at the same time being good for visual learners, too. There are so many other options available.

        • profile image

          The Goblins Den 6 years ago

          Great topic, and one that needs more attention. I think animal dissection in the classroom is unnecessary for learning, and in some cases should be considered cruelty. The only people who need to do such things are vets and biologists.

        • profile image

          I001l01I02l 6 years ago

          i was thinking if a toy manufacturing company would provide alternatives for dissecting...a stuffed toy, for example, students will still be practical in cutting and moving, without harming an animal.

        • WildFacesGallery profile image

          Mona 6 years ago from Iowa

          As a vet tech I dissected my share of critters. On a high school level I certainly don't see the point. You've created an informative lens. Nicely done and belated congrats on being LotD.

        • profile image

          anonymous 7 years ago

          Talking about dissection alternatives, we at Emantras develop educational apps and one of the apps that we recently launched is called Frog Dissection. PETA also recognized our efforts and has chosen us to receive the Mark Twain Ethical Science Award. The app is a great way to know more about the dissection process, all done virtually of course! Anyone who is interested in saving frogs and putting an end to dissection, this is a great substitute. Visit to know more.

        • VSP profile image

          VSP 7 years ago

          Interesting lens, food for thought. I'm curious why the practice was started in the 20's, and the thought process behind it then. While on the whole I agree the practice of dissections probably doesn't accomplish much, but not sure the practice should be totally eliminated. Maybe make it optional or an extracurricular lab for the students who would benefit from or are interested. Also like your choice of the anatomy coloring book, we have one and it's an excellent resource.

        • Franksterk profile image

          Frankie Kangas 7 years ago from California

          Absolutely excellent lens. It is definitely time dissection for learning is stopped. Thanks for putting this info out there. Bear hugs, Frankie

        • profile image

          hamsterguy 7 years ago

          Congrats on the LOTD, very interesting and overlooked topic. Thank you!

        • indigoj profile image

          Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

          Excellent topic and a well-deserved LOTD. Another ~*~* Angel Blessing *~*~ for this lens.

        • profile image

          anthropology 7 years ago

          Great lens. You have dealt with a matter of concern and done it well too. I remember my college days, when as an undergraduate student I was forced to do many dissections. Doing them was never an interesting thing as I used to feel that killing animals and using them for educational purposes was not really necessary. I remember going without food on those days as I was allergic to the smell that used to linger on, even after a few hours.

          Congratulations on choice of this informative lens as LOTD.

        • Faye Rutledge profile image

          Faye Rutledge 7 years ago from Concord VA

          Very interesting. Congratulations on LotD!

        • profile image

          examish 7 years ago

          I used to eat frog legs. Wish I could find a good restaurant that sells them. My wife loved them when she was pregnant (although she did not know it was frog legs, she had just started to eat from the plate I got for myself)

        • burgessvillian profile image

          burgessvillian 7 years ago

          Congratulations on lotd. I knew some people were against dissection in high school, but I didn't realize how strongly some are opposed. 5*s

        • justholidays profile image

          justholidays 7 years ago

          Congratulations on your LOTD! It's well deserved!

          I've never understood the interest of dissection at school, at least not in what you name college and lyceum especially because all students aren't supposed to become biologists or doctors or anything that might have an interest in dissection. Personally I've always hatred to have to kill an animal for those courses and refused to bring those required by the school program at the time I was in school. Got ZERO in my report but didn't mind.

          Really, really great lens!


        • norma-holt profile image

          norma-holt 7 years ago

          Congrats on this important subject and on LOTD. Blessed and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust and also on Lenses That Shine

        • hlkljgk profile image

          hlkljgk 7 years ago from Western Mass

          wonderful info on an often overlooked issue. congrats on LOTD!

        • juliannegentile profile image

          Julianne Gentile 7 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio, US

          Thanks for creating this lens, thanks for being an enlightened teacher, and congrats on the LoTD!

        • hayleylou lm profile image

          hayleylou lm 7 years ago

          Good lens on an interesting topic - I find it cruel that this still happens - congrats on LOTD and 5*

        • delia-delia profile image

          Delia 7 years ago

          I remember my Biology class and I refused to dissect anything, I made such a fuss they were glad to rid me in that class...It traumatized me...I think this is something that should not be done in High School. There are other types of virtual programs for dissecting that are just as effective in learning...congrats on LOTD!

        • profile image

          anonymous 7 years ago

          It should be offered to students of appropriate grade levels wishing to pursue studies in the biological sciences, in becoming researchers or doctors. Alternatives are okay for the curious but getting one's hands dirty provides one with a learning experience beyond that of the dissection itself.

        • stacy mcdaniel profile image

          stacy mcdaniel 7 years ago

          Congratulations on lens of the day. I remember in seventh grade having to dissect a frog. I thought it was awful. I'm just glad that I was in a group with three boys. They did the gross part and I did the paper work.

        • eclecticeducati1 profile image

          eclecticeducati1 7 years ago

          Congratulations on your LotD! Thank you so much for this lens. I am a homeschool teacher and will be doing biology next year with my oldest son. I did not want to include dissection. I personally learned nothing from it when I was in school and I have never used the information in my entire life (I'm 39 yrs. old). The biggest problem I had was, homeschooler are held in such close scrutiny. People are always assuming our education is inadequate. I was finding it hard to tell people that I was going to leave out what is considered a big part of biology. I think even my husband was having problems with this! Now if anyone questions me, I can point them to this lens! I know its the right thing to do and I know I don't need to worry what others are thinking. I can give my son a good background in biology without cutting open a frog! Thank you!

        • MissBuffySpears profile image

          MissBuffySpears 7 years ago

          Congrats on LotD...this lens deserves it!

        • sittonbull profile image

          sittonbull 7 years ago

          Very persuasive analogy of the dissection options and congratulations on your LOTD.

        • callinsky lm profile image

          callinsky lm 7 years ago

          Great lens! Congrats on LOTD; it is well deserved.

        • paperfacets profile image

          Sherry Venegas 7 years ago from La Verne, CA

          This is a wonderful page for Squidoo and the reading world. Balloons and confetti for your LotD! I hope it helps to launch your lens into world review. Be sure to build your backlinks.

        • investorconscio profile image

          investorconscio 7 years ago

          I enjoyed dissection in biology. It is one thing to read about anatomies of frogs, and it is entirely different experience seeing one.

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          Joan4 7 years ago

          Oh, and a huge congratulations on LOTD and a super lens!

        • profile image

          Joan4 7 years ago

          Freshman biology in college was my introduction to the dissection practice. I was shocked. And I immediately went to the Dean and dropped the course, in tears. I refused to do it! Never did do it, in fact! Gross, crude, unnecessary!

        • SciTechEditorDave profile image

          David Gardner 7 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

          As a former biology major (almost an MS in it), and former biology teacher, I agree that dissection is not and should not be a requirement in the lower grades biology classes. With the new computer simulations, plastic models, and other things available--and, with the environmental concerns of the preservatives (formaldehyde etc.) exposure and disposal of the carcasses, dissection is just not a viable option. Nice lens! 5* and favorited.

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          RuneGard 7 years ago

          Outstanding lens and I know the animals thank you as do I! Since the first year it started, I have supported PCRM Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine (early 1980s) which has spearheaded this very issue and helps educate and end this cruel and unnecessary practice in schools and academia. We must be the voices for those who have none. Great lens!!

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          kimmanleyort 7 years ago

          Very thoughtful and persuasive presentation. I never liked dissection day myself and think the alternatives are better. Congrats on LOTD.

        • aka-rms profile image

          Robin S 7 years ago from USA

          Congrats on LotD!

        • verymary profile image

          Mary 7 years ago from Chicago area

          My kids are so stressed about this already, as an exercise they may have to endure in high school. I told them they can be conscientious objectors! Hope the school is okay with that....

        • nightbear lm profile image

          nightbear lm 7 years ago

          Excellent lens, great subject

        • sheriangell profile image

          sheriangell 7 years ago

          I always made sure I was sick on dissecting day when I was in school. Hated the thought of it. Another 5* lens!

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          JFB91 7 years ago

          Thoughtful. Links to superb products. Thanks!