Two years after the baby chick experiment, I entered college, and like most Freshmen, started taking the required courses, to get them out of the way, before I started taking the courses I really wanted to take, whatever the hell those were.
One of those courses was Zoology 101, and after class #1, I knew I was in trouble. I loved zoology, it was lab I was going to have a problem with. So I went to the professor and said, What can I do? I will not kill an animal. I will not dissect an animal. I have to have this course, but I can’t do it.
So we reached a compromise. The compromise was, they created a lab just for me. It was me and one teaching assistant. You have to think this was extraordinary in a school of 19,000 students. I would never have to kill anything or watch it be killed. I would, however, still have to dissect things that were already dead. I did that for a couple of sessions, then one day the TA came in and I was weeping my eyes out over an oyster or something, and that was the end of that.
From then on, the TA just showed me pictures. Because the point of the whole dissection thing was to be able to identify the internal body parts of the organism in question. I made an A.
My second semester, I took Botany 101 , also required, and I was prepared to be bored to death. And here is the beauty of good teachers. She took us out to see a gingko tree on campus. She explained why it was different. Before I knew it I was taking walks and pressing the leaves of trees between the pages of books. I did that as a child with flowers, but suddenly I grasped the importance of things that were…just green.
I made an A in Botany too.