Recently, about 5 or 6 weeks ago, our grade level ordered larva; we put them in small cups, fed them mallow and milkweed, then we observed as they turned into chrysalises, and hung quietly while metamorphosis took place. Not long, maybe for 2 weeks or even a bit less, the children watched as they spread their wings, and were born. 13 butterflies altogether.
We kept a journal of their progress, the life cycle. There is a lot to learn there, and since life cycles are all around us, including us, this lesson is relevant and a well-selected science topic for youngsters. They were wildly excited when the butterflies emerged. One fellow said, “That was the best thing I ever saw!”
Another two weeks passed and we carried our ‘cage’ out to the playground and watched them fly free. Well, most of them; two had been born with bent wings, and they did not leave the cage. The butterflies that flew were delightful; the children were ecstatic, yelping with joy as the butterflies flitted all around us, free.
Left with reservations: lab grown caterpillar larvae for the children to observe the life cycle of a butterfly; caged butterflies, cupped caterpillars, and freedom, only to lose life very shortly thereafter, in the name of elementary science. There is no judgement here, just a question that leans toward reservation: Is it ok to test tube life for scientific purposes? It seems worth considering since the ways of world mimic this seemingly successful lesson.
The teacher felt sad; sad to watch the caterpillars nibble quickly hardened mallow, sad to watch the caged creatures want to fly, but couldn’t, and sad that they were born for a classroom, and really had/have a very short life cycle.
There is a valid rational for each side of the fence. It is worthwhile though, to consider: it could be that teaching us one thing is ok leads us to believe another is as well and therefore we accept practices that our hearts question. Please note: utube was able to show this very same process, filmed from nature.
If we respect life when we are learning about it, we will respect life. It is something to think about.