Theoretically discussing a subject matter and reading textbooks can give you lots of information about various things in life, but there’s nothing more engaging than real-life experience. That’s what Chugiak High School teacher in Alaska thought and decided to have his students take part in a hands-on activity to learn valuable life skills.
Chugiak High School teacher Brian Mason runs a World Discovery Seminar (WDS) program, through which he teaches his students various life skills often by participating in interesting activities. Last week he had the most innovative idea so far: to bring a moose he hunted to class.
Mason got a Cultural Educational Harvest Permit from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which allows game animals to be killed for educational purposes. Of course, he couldn’t hunt any moose: it couldn’t be a calf and it also had to be antlerless. He also had to submit a detailed plan of educational or cultural activities for which the animal would be used.
According to Tim Spivey of Alaska Fish and Game, “up to 40 permits are issued annually, primarily to schools and villages. Most are for moose, though some are for caribou, deer, black bears and mountain goats”.
Due to low snow conditions, it took Mason three weekends of hunting before he shot the young cow moose, but it was worth the wait. The next morning he took the dead animal to the school and explained to his students what they were supposed to do with it. They had to debone and trim it, according to Mason’s instructions. As he explained, the original idea also involved quartering and skinning the animal, but he wasn’t able to get the moose out of the woods whole.
“They’re all being super safe and responsible and frankly they’re really engaged,” he said. “I wasn’t sure how some students would really deal with the process of getting their hands on a dead animal, that can be an off-putting experience for some students, but I’ve been really impressed with them.”
Mason was impressed by how quickly his students got the hang of the deboning and trimming process and he was content with their handling of sharp knives. The whole process took place under the supervision of some teachers and parents who volunteered. But the students, after the first shock, got really excited about learning these precious life skills. So, once they started working on the carcass, the class went silent.
“I think our teacher knew we’re here to learn and we weren’t going to be stupid,” said student Reuben Dobson.
This was the first time Mason had done something similar, although he has always tried to engage his students in physical activities to learn the theory by applying it in real-life situations. This particular lesson was a crucial one, since students not only learned more about anatomy but were also immersed in cultural traditions and practices related to hunting and gathering in the state, which for the people of Alaska are huge.
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Students in the Chugiak High School World Discovery Seminar program butchered a moose in class on Tuesday, Dec. 10. Teacher Brian Mason said he obtained a Cultural Education Harvest Permit from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to harvest the cow moose, which he shot near Willow, Alaska on Sunday. Mason said the goal of the lesson was to emphasize traditional Alaska subsistence and hunting practices and learn more about basic animal anatomy. The World Discovery program is a "school within a school' whose goal is to "establish a smaller learning community that creates a sense of identity, belonging, and teamwork within the WDS program, while maintaining strong ties to the CHS families of departments and programs.” There are currently 125 students enrolled in the program at Chugiak.
Posted by Alaska Star on Thursday, December 12, 2019