Chick-Hatching Programmes: Not What They’re Cracked Up to Be
I first came across chick-hatching programmes whilst running the PETA stand at an education exhibition. Whilst most companies at the show were exhibiting books, outdoor play equipment and lesson plans, a company called “Living Eggs” was “exhibiting” several tiny chicks. The idea is for schools to put fertilised chicken eggs in incubators in classrooms and let students watch the eggs hatch two to four weeks later.
Of course, PETA immediately complained to TSL Education Limited, the show organisers, who thankfully made the decision to ban the use of live animals in all future exhibitions.
Some teachers believe that such programmes help pupils learn about embryonic development and life cycles, but something important is missing! In nature, chickens form friendships and social hierarchies, develop a pecking order and love and care for their young. They also enjoy taking dust baths and making nests. As the Discovery Channel reported, “Chickens do not just live in the present but can anticipate the future and demonstrate self-control, something previously attributed only to humans and other primates …”. Chick-hatching programmes, however, teach the lesson that it is somehow acceptable to think of animals as mere commodities to be brought into the world without their mothers, gawked at and then casually disposed of.
Clearly, there are plenty of ways for schools to educate pupils about embryonic development and life cycles without exploiting and harming animals. For example, they could visit an animal sanctuary; have pupils create a slideshow, classroom display or animated video to illustrate life cycles or use a Chick Life Cycle Exploration Set.
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