Sometimes, the most unorthodox lessons can be the most effective.
A teacher at Anchorage, Alaska’s, Chugiak High School implemented a lesson his students are not likely to forget when he surprised his ninth-grade biology class with a bull moose carcass — which he and the students were to” skin, quarter … and harvest the meat,” according to Your Alaska Link.
Making full use of his educational hunting permit, on Dec. 4, biology teacher Brian Mason walked his students through the process of ethically harvesting a bull moose, ending the lesson with pounds of moose meat students could donate to their community.
Introducing the activity of the day lightheartedly, Mason grew more serious as he explained the lesson to his students. In a video on the lesson posted on the Anchorage School District Facebook page, Mason told his students, “There’s something serious about taking the life of an animal. … This is not just fun … an animal gave its life for this, and we need to respect that. Plus, this is the food that is going to be consumed by a lot of the families in our school community.”
WARNING: The following video contains graphic images some readers may find disturbing.
Mason proceeded to provide his students in-depth instructions on skinning and harvesting the meat from the animal, with the students actively participating in every step of the process.
Based on the evidence in the video, Mason’s students respond positively to the lesson each year that it is taught.
One student, Blaine Wanner, even said that, since the prior year’s freshman class didn’t get the chance to participate in this activity, he was “hoping we did it. But we got one, so we’re happy.”
In Alaska, however, Mason’s seemingly unorthodox lesson is not wholly unique. All over the state, schools participate in educational hunting activities.
In the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, local middle and high school students participate in educational moose hunts, where they learn to identify moose they can ethically hunt and then harvest the meat.
The meat they can then bring home to their families, as well as donate to the community.
Likewise, Alaska’s Sister School Exchange program allows students from the few urban areas, like Anchorage, to experience life in the more rural areas of the state for a brief time.
Classes and programs like these provide a great opportunity to for students to understand and appreciate, not just Alaskan cultural traditions, but the work that goes into harvesting food from animals.
Most urban and suburban dwellers are so far removed from nature that most, like the students at the beginning of Mason’s lesson, are grossed out by the mere idea of touching an undisturbed animal carcass.
This remove from nature, however, has the unfortunate side effect of rendering people insensitive to the respect for nature and stewardship of the environment that those in rural areas acquire through their ordinary life experiences.
As wonderful as our modern conveniences are, our ignorance of the sheer work involved in harvesting our natural resources can render us callous to the sacrifices inherent in putting food on the tables of all American citizens.
Mason is performing a valuable service for his high school students. These students, who were previously unaware of the work involved in harvesting meat for an animal, now have a newfound respect for animals, as well as those who make their living providing food for their communities.
And to think, these students may never have gained that respect if they weren’t confronted with a giant moose carcass first thing in the morning.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.