Alaska High School Teacher Shoots Moose and Has Students Butcher It to Learn Life Skills


An understanding of animal anatomy is important for people working in a range of different industries, especially those working with livestock, domestic pets, and wildlife.

Animal Anatomy

Anatomy as a study of the structures of living things helps experts to:

–           Understand how to diagnose disease

–           Determine if an animal has an injury

–           Understand the limitations or physical capabilities of particular species

–           Understand what happens in the growth and nutrition processes

Fields of Anatomy

  • Macroscopic Anatomy or Gross anatomy – Organs and organ systems have seen with the naked eye by dissection.
  • Microscopic anatomy – viewed with a microscope.
  • Developmental anatomy
  • Applied anatomy

Methods of teaching and learning anatomy

Understanding anatomy is essential to clinical practice and imposes itself for a place in the curriculum. These include problem-based learning and the use of protected cadaver specimens, life models, radiological images, and laparoscopic views of the living body, X-rays, ultrasound, computed tomography, and interactive multimedia packages.

Moose butchering class

At Chugiak High School in Alaska, students gain some serious “practical” knowledge about animal life. It’s common for students to participate in unique projects, but the moose butchering class was something unusual even for the World Discovery Seminar (WDS) program organized there. Because hunting and trapping animals are not usually included in the public-school curriculum, the teacher of this school Brian Mason obtained a special Cultural Educational Harvest Permit from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to process the harvest of game animals for educational reasons. He recently brought into class a dead moose in the back of his truck that he shot and killed himself.

Handling and capture of wildlife, and possession of wildlife parts, may be authorized for valid educational purposes under an Education Permit. Also, some qualified agencies or organizations may donate hides and skulls for public display and educational purposes.

The goal of WDS is to assist young people to become self-motivated and avid learners. It will allow students to examine, define, draw conclusions, articulate, and debate about the significance of great historical, mathematical, literary, and scientific ideas.

Mason had his 30 students who helped him to unload killed moose. Each of the students got a four-inch boning knife and was taught to de-bone, trim, and process the meat properly.

For the Anchorage Daily News Mason explained that students can certainly learn about anatomy from diagrams, textbooks, and videos, getting their hands on an animal is a big part of the scientific aspect of it. In addition, students were required to learn about the local tradition of hunting and catching hunting, a way of life that has supported Alaska Natives for centuries.

World Discovery Seminar (WDS) program

The main goal of the Chugiak School is to establish a smaller learning community that creates a sense of identity, belonging, and teamwork within the WDS program. Currently, WDS consists of approximately 125 students and a team of 4 teachers. This program uses the Paideia methodology, a learning technique focused on an in-depth understanding of classical historical and literary documents. The ideas arising from the seminar process are highlighted as challenging projects, practice activities, and community involvement. This will allow students to become multiple thinkers.


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