Butte College anthropology instructor Melody Yeager is bringing the art, science, and fun of anthropology to a group of Orland High School Gifted And Talented Education (GATE) students.
Yeager is volunteering her time and expertise to teach four after school sessions of anthropology to the 15 sophomore through senior students.
“We study math, business, economics and marketing, but we rarely give students the opportunity to study what it means to be human and that’s what anthropology is all about. I want to expose students to the concepts and excitement of anthropology as early as possible because understanding what it means to be human allows us to understand ourselves and others a little better and to come to terms with our similarities and our differences,” said Yeager.
The Orland High students will be transported to the Butte College Glenn Center for afternoons of exploration with Yeager. There they will be introduced to what Yeager refers to as four primary sub-fields of anthropology – cultural, physical, religion and forensic.
In their first session, slated for November, Yeager will take the students on a journey of anthropology through food, she said, studying the history of agriculture and its direct impact on the development of civilization.
The next three sessions of this outreach education program are scheduled for the spring semester. In the first, Yeager will focus on physical anthropology by having the students read an about primates and discuss hominid evolution.
“We’ll look at primates because of their genetic closeness to us. We’ll look at the different species that pre-date humans and I’ll bring a few skulls to class so the students can examine them and see the differences,” she said.
The third session will focus on religions with study and discussions about different global single- and multi-God religions; their similarities and differences and their impact on cultures.
In the fourth and final study session, the students and Yeager will be joined by a forensic specialist who will discuss with them how the application of anthropological knowledge and methods are used to solve crimes.
Yeager, who has been teaching anthropology courses at Butte College for six years, says she is really looking forward to working with the high school students.