Not only does Kind Education better for the animals, but it is also better for learning outcomes!
When students are taught with non-harmful teaching methods, they can be present and stay connected with their values. By not harming anyone, they practice their respect and empathy for life and other beings. And this can only be a positive thing.
The Key Benefits
There are many reasons why Kind Education is better than harmfully using animals including:
Animals are saved
Some animals are bred and killed for the sole purpose of being used in animal dissections. If an alternative is used instead, these animals can be rehomed, or they may never have been bred for this purpose in the first place. Animals are not lab tools!
Dissecting animals may also teach students that the right, and perhaps only way to study biology is to kill animals and take them apart which we know isn't true. It's important that children learn to have compassion for animals and to recognise each animal's inherent worth.
The impact on student wellbeing is minimised
No student is going to be negatively emotionally impacted by using a kind teaching method. However, the same cannot be said for teaching exercises that harm animals. Many students find using and harming animals distressing. Stressful situations like this may put students off wanting to pursue a career in science.
Many students feel (and often justifiably so) that they do not have a choice and they will fail their paper if they do not do the teaching exercise with the animal, even if they have serious ethical, cultural, or religious objections. This can lead to a student dropping out of the study they want to do, change career paths entirely, or perform the animal teaching exercise against their conscience. The students that end up participating because they do not feel they have the academic freedom to say no, can be left with unhelpful emotions that impact on their mental wellbeing. Here are some thoughts from students who were put in this situation:
- “You see a rat’s heart being dissected out of the rat, and then you perform experiments on the heart, and this was too much for me.” – Science student, University of Otago.
- “The animal experiments have involved euthanizing rats and using various organs (brain and heart specifically) to conduct these experiments. It definitely made me feel guilty, as I felt the rats were used simply for ‘experience.’ The lack of consideration of ‘at what cost’ from the university troubles me sometimes. I think when we forget to ask ourselves ‘at what cost’, then it becomes easy to practice unethical actions.” – Biomedical Science student, University of Otago.
- “You saw some rats at the point where they were just lying there with their little hands touching the lever, or you could see some were pretty terrified. It was horrible. I felt bad and uncomfortable, and we didn’t really get a choice as to whether we wanted to do it or not. Even though we were told it is all ethical and stuff, it doesn’t really feel like that. You’re taking these rats and forcing them to do this – that doesn’t sound ethical to me. I think it’s not okay in general and it just makes me feel sad.” – Psychology student, University of Otago.
Kind Education avoids these sorts of ethical dilemmas for students – they can learn more effectively while not distressed about participating in unethical experiments.
Better learning outcomes are achieved
Students often perform just as well, if not better when using alternative methods to animal dissections. These alternatives can be repeated to consolidate learning without the distress of harming animals.
The Society for Humane Science conducted a literature review to explore independent peer-reviewed studies that have compared the teaching efficacy of animal versus non-animal teaching methods. The results showed that around 91% of the 34 studies concluded that students learn equivalently or better by using non-animal teaching methods. This supports the idea that the replacement of animals in teaching is possible, and in many cases, the non-animal option can enhance student learning.