Here in North Africa, we were discussing organs in animals, and I reminded my student that he’d forgotten to mention the brain. My 13-year-old student said, “Animals don’t have a brain.” When I asked why he thought that, he said, “Animals can’t think because they don’t have a brain.”
Even though I told him that most animals do have a brain, the conversation continued to trouble me. I wondered, “How could an intelligent 13-year-old, who is a good student and reasonably good in science have this idea?” I decided to speak to a teaching colleague from the local culture.
My colleague suggested that I remind my student of the annual Sheep Sacrifice Festival, where a sheep is butchered in nearly every home (except the very poor). He suggested I ask my student if he had remembered eating the sheep’s head, and that inside the head are the brains.
My colleague and my husband (both from the local culture) explained that since there is emphasis here on humans being able to think and reason, and animals just acting on their instincts, so that it’s generally said, “Animals don’t have a mind.” My student, himself, apparently interpreted that to mean, “Animals don’t have a brain.”
When I spoke about this to my student, he said, “Oh, YES! I HAVE seen that!” I explained that every animal needs a brain even to walk around, even to eat, even to see. He said, “Thank you for explaining this!”
Tags: Aid el Kabir, animals don't have a brain, animals don't have a mind, cat brains, do animals have a brain, do animals think, dog brains, dolphin brains, Eid el Kbir, elephant brains, Festival of the Sheep Sacrifice, gorilla brains, how different cultures view animals, human brains, monkey brains, mouse brains, science teaching in different cultures, sheep brains, Teaching science in Muslim cultures