Many high schools require that students of certain disciplines dissect animals or animal organs as part of the practical work. For example, students of biology may be asked to dissect laboratory mice or other small animal as part of the coursework. Whilst dissection poses a variety of demerits to these learners, its advantages cannot go unnoticed, and it continues to play a leading role in the learning and teaching of animal biology.
Practice makes perfect, goes the old adage. If a student is planning to take a career in the medical (human or veterinary) field, for instance, they will find it of utmost importance having had the hands-on feel of the dissection of say, the rat. This laboratory activity can therefore be considered a scale model for greater things in the future, even to the realms of surgery.
Furthermore, it is said that to a wise man, a picture is worth a thousand words. The literal observation of the organs and tissues as the student dissects fixes the many intricate theoretical pieces of information acquired in class to memory; rendering examinations more palatable to the keen dissector. Students who have dissected organs with close interest will certainly ‘dissect’ the theory with accuracy.
Dissection is fun! It can be used by biology instructors as a means to break the monotony of classwork. Students also get to bond and establish teamwork skills as the activity is usually carried out in groups. This can, with time, be extrapolated into various other social and academic settings as the students grow up.
A close participation in organ and animal dissection will also arouse some interests and opportunities that a student may not have considered exploring. For example, scientific drawing is a field in which not too many a person has indulged, and this requires detailed knowledge of organ morphology to be able to make clear artistic impressions.
Dissection can, on the other hand, have some serious disadvantages. For one, some students are just plain phobic, and might shun a possible successful future career in the biological sciences at the prospect of dissection. It is possible that one may completely disregard a discipline like biology only due to the fear of working with animal parts, or worse still, ‘slaughtering’ the animal. They may be unaware that there actually exist prostheses that can be used to accomplish the objective of dissection in place of the exact organ.
Safety is another consideration in dissection that might pose direct harm to the students. Where sharp objects like scalpels are used, it is important to uphold quite a tight laboratory safety protocol. Students also need to put on gloves and other necessary protective gear to protect against any health hazard during the activity. This way, this demerit can be addressed.
All in all, dissection has been used over the ages to aid in the learning of biological sciences, and its benefits have exceeded the risks in most cases. It however does not go without mention that there are psychological and safety concerns associated, without with this would be an unparalleled companion to biological classwork.