Teacher: Ok class. I have some really exciting news for you today.
Teacher: Next week, we will begin our study of the physiology of organ systems. That means that we get to dissect animals and learn about how their bodies work.
Julie: Yuck! That's gross!
Teacher: No. That's life! You will see what the brain really looks like. You will even see a heart as it is still beating inside a rat. This is the most interesting part of 9th grade Biology.
Kevin: Does that mean that we get to see blood squishing all over?
Teacher: Yes, there will be blood involved.
Tina: Do we really have to touch the animals?
Teacher: You will touch the animals, but you will have gloves on at all times.
(The bell rings and the class runs out of the room, except Ketan, who goes to speak to the teacher).
Ketan: Mrs. Anderson, it's against my religion to kill animals, so I don't think I will be able to do the dissections.
Teacher: But don't you make exceptions for the sake of learning? This will be a very good learning experience.
Ketan: I'm sure it will be, but there are many ways to learn without sacrificing life.
Teacher: Yes, but no matter how you do it, there is no replacing this experience. I can describe to you what a vibrating heart feels like. It's soft, and moist, and there's a vibrating feeling under it, but that description could also be used to describe a fish. It's sort of like this. I can tell you what sugar tastes like, but you will never know until you taste it yourself.
Ketan: Yes, you are probably right. I will never know what a rat's heart feels like as it is beating, but I don't think it will make a big difference in my life if I do learn what it feels like. But for the rat... he is being deprived of his life, just so that I can feel what his heart feels like. That is so unfair. How would you feel if some elephants wanted to know what it felt like to step on a human and just stepped on you even if it didn't make a life-and-death difference in his life?
I understand that it is important to learn physiology and anatomy, and know where things are located, but I feel that it is wrong to do so at the expense of animals' lives. Especially at this stage of the game, where it does not really matter if we know what an animal looks like inside. And if we really need to learn, sometimes we see dead squirrels and rats lying on the side of the road. We can always get some gloves, pick them up, and cut them open to learn about their anatomy. We don't need to kill live rats.
Teacher: I guess you have a point here. I will excuse you from this assignment, if you can come up with a reasonable alternative within the next two days.
Narrator: That day, Ketan goes home and talks to his cousin, who is in medical school.
Ketan: You won't believe what happened in school today.
Chetan: What happened?
Ketan: Our class is going to be dissecting worms and roaches and rats and stuff for the next few months, so I talked to my teacher about it. I told her it was against my religion to kill and that I didn't think it was very necessary in this case to kill so many animals.
Chetan: No way! You told her that?
Ketan: Yeah, but wait, it gets better! She told me that if I could come up with a reasonable alternative within the next two days, then I could be excused from the assignment.
Chetan: There are lots of alternatives to this. Our medical school has lots of them because we are now moving toward more humane methods of medical education -- no one is required to kill anything for the whole 4 years that we go thru medical school.
Ketan: So how do you learn?
Chetan: Well, we have computer programs for anatomy and physiology which are very interactive and fun to use. We click on the mouse to remove the skin or a particular muscle and you can see what is under it. Or, you can click on a screen to see the heart pumping and click on a medication to see the effects of that medicine on heart rate, blood pressure, etc.. It is just like the real lab. Of course, you don't get to feel what it really feels like.
Ketan: That's exactly what Mrs. Anderson told me. She said I would never be able to feel the real thing.
Chetan: Yeah, but we have cadavers. These were people who have donated their bodies to the medical school after death, so we can feel a real liver and a real spleen and a real brain. But we don't have to kill in order to get the experience.
Ketan: Wow! That's so cool! I wish I could do that.
Chetan: Do you want me to speak to my anatomy professor to see if you can come in and look at my cadaver? I will show you all the important organs. It will be fun for you too. Plus, it will be a real human.
Ketan: Yeah, that would be nice.
Chetan: And you can use our computer programs while you are there to learn about the anatomy and physiology.
Ketan: Cool! I'll ask my teacher tomorrow.
Narrator: The next day, in school, Ketan brings up his idea to Mrs. Anderson.
Ketan: (raises his hand)
Teacher: Yes, Ketan.
Ketan: Mrs. Anderson, remember when I talked to you yesterday about it being against my religion to kill animals? And you told me that I could come up with an alternative assignment? Well I talked to my cousin who is in medical school; he told me that they have some computer programs that I can use to learn anatomy and physiology and then he could take me to see his cadaver so that I can feel a real human liver and heart. Does that sound like a reasonable alternative?
Teacher: Yes. That sounds fine with me.
Julie: I want to do that too; I think it sounds cool to go to the medical school and use their computer program, and then see a real human body. Can I be excused from the assignment too?
Teacher: Yes, that would be fine Julie.
Kevin: (Whispers to Ketan) Does that mean you get a day off from school?
Ketan: (Whispers back) Probably more than one because I can't do the whole computer program in one day.
Kevin: (Yells to the front of the class) Me too. I want to do the alternative assignment.
Teacher: We'll have to see about that. I don't know how many of you can be accommodated.
Ketan: I'll ask my cousin -- may be they can just have a special class for us or something.
Teacher: That would be fine with me, if it's okay with the medical school. Perhaps in future we may look into purchasing a computer program for our school too.
This skit was prepared by a medical student, Yashica Ghelani, Absecon, NJ.