“It’s not every day a girl gets to play with lungs!” quoth Crox Minor (12) on returning from school earlier today, professing that she’d just had “The Best Science Lesson EVER”. Her science teacher, clearly of the old school, had been to the butcher and presented her class the recently excised, gloriously squishy and ichorously revolting heart and lungs of a pig. She invited the class to have a good grope; to feel the larynx in the windpipe, to prod the sponginess of the lung tissue; to marvel at the very thin yet remarkably strong membrane of the diaphragm. It clearly made an impression on Crox Minor. Why, I asked, did she like the science lesson so much? Because it was something new and unexpected; and because it wasn’t yet more bookwork.
My reaction was – HOORAY!
I, too, had the great good fortune to have been educated by an old-school biology teacher, who also, every now and then, came into class by way of the butcher. The fishmonger, too. At school I racked up a pretty sizable body count of earthworms, frogs, dogfishes and rats, before moving on to more exotic species at University. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think anyone has a right to call themselves a biologist until they’ve gotten all down and dirty with their subject of study. People who claim to be squeamish, or to object to dissection because they are (say) vegetarians, or think it’s cruel, shouldn’t be in the class. Models, videos and simulations are not – repeat not – the same thing at all.
I’ve just written a note of congratulation and support to Crox Minor’s science teacher. Before the nimbyist do-gooding health-and-safety vegan raffia mafia get to her first.