Re: Manual or automatic staining

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From:"Barry Rittman" <>
Date:Wed, 14 Apr 1999 07:04:42 -0700
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		shouldn't the students be learning both manual and automated staining
techniques? I believe that given the choice between the two that manual
techniques may be preferable as they are often more labor intensive and
therefore more likely to be retained. On the other hand, I also believe
that students should be able to make up stains from scratch so that they
can appreciate the individual components and the mechanisms of staining.
As for histology. I completely agree. Both histology and histologic
technique are not as availaable as we would wish in college curricula. I
teach general histology in the first semester of dental school and find
that the majority of our students did not have the opportunity to take a
histology course. This puts them at a disadvantage compared to the students
who had this opportunity. This is not because of the detail so much as a
comfort level with the terminology used.
On another note, I hate the term special stains. These are regarded by many
as much more difficult than "routine stains" such as H and E.  H and E
staining is complex and requires a great deal of skill. I regard it as a
special stain. I regard all the stains I do as special stains. 

At 09:25 AM 4/14/99 +1000, you wrote:
>Small quick question for my learned colleagues. I am revising the curriculum
>for a subject I teach called Histotechniques. This subject teaches the
>basics of histology and techniques used in processing, microtomy and
>My question relates to staining techniques. The theory covers quite
>comprehensively the theoretical aspects of staining principles however
>during the practical sessions, we ask the students to manual stain using
>coplin jars. Each student has their own set of stains and 'experiments'
>getting the H&E stain right for sections they have cut.
>As workers at the coal face / prospective employers / future teachers should
>these students abandon their manual staining and revert to an automatic
>alternative. Is automatic staining preparing them better for industry, after
>all I do test their staining 'troubleshooting' in assignments and exams.
>Before the howls, I might add that in support of some arguments on this
>listserv, I too feel that not enough attention is given to histology at the
>university level, and that many students 'hate' histology even before they
>have completed their degree. I want to add more exciting things to my course
>(special stains, immunostaining etc .. I'll leave this for later posts). So
>is it better to move up to automatic staining, thereby using the students
>limited time more efficiently to make room for more advanced material.
>I would especially like to hear from Australian Histonetters.
>Thanks in advance.
>Todd L. Walker
>Lecturer in Cytology / Histology
>School of Biomedical Sciences
>Charles Sturt University
>PO Box 588
>Wagga Wagga
>Tel: 61 2 69332541
>Fax: 61 2 69332587

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