Culture Magazine

Stone Age Germans

By Cris

At one elementary school in Germany, the fifth grade curriculum includes a unit on the “Stone Age.” As an anthropologist, I have to say this sounds great in theory. It was a bit morbid in execution.

As reported by Spiegel, the teachers invited a local farmer to provide instruction on killing and butchery. In years past, the farmer used chickens and no one complained. This year he unwisely chose a rabbit and allowed the children to bid it farewell by saying “bye bye little rabbit.” Bad idea.

About half the class decided not to witness what followed:

Before he began, the farmer told the children that what they were about to see wasn’t disgusting nor was it monstrous — and that they would agree once it was over. Then the farmer hit the rabbit with the hammer. One child fainted, others burst into tears. Next, he slit the animal’s throat with a knife, gutted the body, skinned it and hung it up to drain. The next day, the rabbit was grilled in the school yard and eaten — in Stone Age style, naturally, on a hot stone.

Needless to say, some kids were traumatized and parents — who were not told about this aspect of the Stone Age curriculum — were upset. One parent commented it was a good idea to teach that meat does not come from freezers, but this was a bit much: “I find using a sledgehammer for that twisted. For 10 year olds, that is a shock that will stay with them for life. They still keep their stuffed animals in their beds.”

Lesson learned: obtain parental consent before bludgeoning the Easter Bunny.

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