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Professor Caveman

Bill Schindler is an anthropology professor at Washington College in Maryland. In his class Experimental Archaeology and Primitive Technology, students learn the way things were done when you didn't have someone else specializing in doing it for others. Things like butchering animals, making their own clothing and dishes, and cooking -using tools they make themselves.  

The skills prehistoric peoples depended on seem exotic to today’s college students, who Schindler says arrive on campus each year with less and less of the sort of practical experience that he emphasizes in his class. He tells of the time he asked some students to crack eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. He returned to the kitchen 10 minutes later to find that not a single egg had been cracked. “I asked them if the problem was that nobody had ever told them how to separate the yolk from the whites, and received blank stares in return,” he recalled. “After a minute of silence, one of them said, ‘I’ve never cracked an egg.’ I was floored—how do you even make it to 19 without cracking an egg?”

Schindler wants us to know that "primitive" people were not less intelligent than we are, they were just focused on different things. In fact, they may have even been smarter. After all, they did not have weapons that could destroy millions, nor did they have factories that polluted the planet. And Schindler lives his life using the ancient skills he teaches in class. Read about Schindler and his views on ancient societies at the Atlantic. -via TYWKIWDBI

(Image credit: John Cuneo)


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This is a pretty good video, but I cannot find the one I used. He shows good knife handling skills and shows how to hold the carrot to control it well. What he doesn't mention, possibly because it was covered in an earlier video, is the need for a sharp knife, and the feel of the knife bite into the carrot before applying pressure or slicing. He also discards a lot of the carrot in order to get uniform and precise cubes, which I don't bother with.
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I was granted an interview for a job as a staff trainer. I was asked to give a presentation on 'why do we need trainers', and so I prepared my talk. Knowing that audience participation can make a difference, I brought a bag with three cutting boards, peelers, knives, and some carrots.

Before the presentation itself, I asked for three volunteers among the committee to come and dice a carrot. Three women (naturally, the men did not volunteer) came, and I let them do the work without instruction. My intention was to compare the different methods they used for dicing a carrot. One person may, for instance, split the carrot in half. Another might cut the carrot to a convenient length first. Then I would show a video of a chef demonstrating the technique. The point that I hoped to make was that people come into a task with preconceptions, based on their prior experience, which will be different for everyone. A trainer is needed to ensure that things are done to the same standard, with the same outcome.

I was surprised (shocked, actually) to find that nobody could dice a carrot! One cut the carrot into round disks. Another minced the carrot. One did not peel it first, while another used the back of the peeler to scrape it. It was very strange to see. ("Dicing" means you cut the carrot into uniform cubes of a defined size)

Sadly, I did not get the job.
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