The outcome was that my son decided to observe the dissection. I bit my nails all day at work, anxiously awaiting for his report on the lesson. When I picked him up, he said "WOW! That was the coolest and most disgusting thing I have ever seen!!" Hmmm... not so much the reaction I was expecting. What was I expecting? Remorse. Horror. Scarring. But you know what? He's 11. Things like this are cool when you're 11. As ethical and thoughtful and empathetic as he is, he's still a kid.
We talked about his feelings about participating - he felt bad for the animal, but didn't feel terrible about participating. I asked him if he thought he learned more, less, or the same than if we had decided to learn about it at home, online, and by making a model. His answer? "Way more mom, because everyone was excited to learn 'cause that was cool".
So when he wrote this a few days later, I was somewhat surprised. I asked him why the change of heart (pun intended) and he looked downcast, saying "I don't want to talk about it. I just feel really bad about what I did".
When this comes up again (it will next year), I think I will handle it the same way. It's not perfect, but it's true to who we are. It's my job to help him make good decisions, but at his age, it's up to him to carry them through. I'll have him re-read what he wrote, encourage him to remember why we're vegan, and let him make his own decision.
Here is his post:
OK one thing every vegan on earth worries about dissections at school. We did that in class a week ago, I had a raging battle inside my conscience over it but in the end I did it. I will NEVER do that again. Next time I might walk out of the classroom if I have to. anyways I wish I hadn't done it.