Name: Ask NSTA to Endorse Use on Non-Animals Alternatives to Dissection
Dissection sacrifices an estimated
6-12 million animals each year so that students—some as early as 3rd
grade—can study the animals’ anatomies. Starting with cows’ eyes and fish, then
moving on to frogs, and finally fetal pigs and cats, students are given
scalpels and asked to cut into these creatures. The use of cats, which is
prevalent in high school classrooms, can be particularly troubling to students
who view a cat as a member of the family, not as a specimen for
experimentation. Over the years, alternatives to the use of live
animals—models, computer simulations and, most recently, virtual reality simulators—have
been used to teach students about life science without the need to harm any
While numerous studies have shown
that students learn as well—or better—using alternatives to dissection,
national science teacher organizations have failed to endorse the use of these
alternatives instead of animal specimens in the classroom. In fact, the
National Association of Biology Teachers’ (NABT) recent update to its position
was a step backward, strongly endorsing animal dissection and citing
“limitations” on the use of alternatives.
NAVS, as part of
an international coalition of animal protection organizations, asked the NABT
and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) to revise their old policies
regarding the use of dissection alternatives in the classroom from one which
views alternatives as adjuncts to the use of animal specimens
to one which supports the use of alternatives as full animal replacements.
The NABT took the opposite stance, without considering the ethics of
sacrificing the life of living creatures for a teaching exercise for which
there are better options.
The NSTA has not yet released an
update to its existing policy. We hope that in considering their decision, they
consider whether it is morally justifiable to take animal lives when
educationally appropriate alternatives are readily available.
Please ask the NSTA to include
ethical consideration for purpose-bred and wild-caught animals, as well if it
is necessary to bring slaughterhouse by-products into the classroom for
teaching. Hands-on models, computer simulations and virtual reality dissections
provide stimulating and educationally satisfying outcomes for student learning—without
harming or killing animals.
Call to Actions:
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Support offering an ethical 21st century education to all students
Dear [Decision Maker],
I am writing to ask you to promote an end to the obsolete and troubling method of education for students in grades K-12. I'm talking about dissection and it's time to end our reliance on a science "teaching" exercise that has been in place since the beginning of the 20th century. Classroom dissection sacrifices as many as 12 million living animals each year so that students--some as early as 3rd grade--can study the anatomies of cows' eyes, fish, frogs, fetal pigs, and other animals. The use of cats, which is prevalent in high school classrooms, can be particularly troubling to students who view a cat as a member of the family, not as a specimen for experimentation. Alternatives to the use of animals--models, computer simulations and, most recently, virtual reality simulators--have been used for decades to teach students about the life sciences without the need to harm any animals. Every year, more sophisticated and engaging alternatives are developed and put to use in classrooms across the country, yet the use of dead animals as an educational tool remains. In the interest of providing the best available modern educational methods to our students, I ask that you support a strong endorsement by the National Science Teachers Association on the use of alternatives for the study of the life sciences. Further, the question of whether it is ethical to sacrifice so many animals for dissection each year is rarely, if ever, addressed in making decisions regarding classroom dissection. In formulating the NSTA's position on animal use, please ask the question of whether the sacrifice of animal life is a necessity for student learning. With new educationally-appropriate non-animal methods available, I would expect that the answer would be different than it was decades ago.Thank you for your consideration,
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP]