Today’s Opinion: The rabbit experiment

POSTED: 04/1/11 1:01 PM

Illustrative education is a concept some teachers are in love with. Telling kids about stuff is not half as effective as showing them the real thing. Chemistry students know all about this, because they experiment all the time – at least, when they happen to be in a school that is equipped with a decent lab.

It’s a bit like telling a small kid not to poke with a piece of metal in an electrical outlet. A lot of children just cannot resist to do the experiment, if only to figure out whether the message they got – it’s dangerous, you’ll get an electric shock and you could die – is really accurate. Few teachers will subject their pupils to practical experiments like this.

But a teacher in the German village of Ratekau – honestly, we have no idea where that is, so if you are curious enough, just Google it, though after reading this story you probably don’t want to know anyway – who wanted to teach his ten and eleven year old pupils that meat does not originate from supermarkets could not resist a little experiment.

The teacher, whose name did not appear in the newspaper report, brought a white-gray rabbit to school. He gave all pupils the opportunity to cuddle Brer Rabbit and to say their farewell. Every kid had to say something like, thank you for the meat.

When the whole ceremony was coming to a close, the teacher, a true aficionado of illustrative education, cut the rabbit’s throat in the middle of the school yard.

That message hit home, the local newspaper Lübecker Nachrichten reported, though there are no details available about blood spatters on the astonished kids. Some of them started crying, and one mother reported later that her son now has trouble sleeping.

The story plays in Germany, so we are not at all surprised that some parents reacted positive to the experiment.

That teacher must have been an avid vegetarian with an inbred hatred for rabbits. The school director apparently remained unfazed. He said that it won’t happen again (not to this rabbit, we take it) and that he will apologize to the parents.

And the teacher? There is nothing in the report about action against the butchering educator. That tells us that his boss is okay with his shock-method.

Germany is far away, so that’s at least something to be grateful for, and we don’t see the point of starting a local action to promote the teacher to an appropriate function at the local slaughterhouse. But there is a lesson for our teachers here. Show and don’t tell all you like, but keep your hands of our rabbits.


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