On Oct. 30th, 2008, we paid a visit to the amazing campus of Brawerman Elementary School of Wilshire BoulevardTemple, in West Los Angeles. We gave our presentation on various aspects of Norse mythology and Viking culture to a learned group of 5th and 6th graders. As it turned out, the students had been already learning about Viking history as part of their school curriculum, so they asked some very smart questions and offered some insights of their own to the morning's discussion. For instance, women enjoyed far more freedom and responsiblity in Viking society than did their counterparts in other European cultures of that era (800 - 1000 AD). They could own land, they could choose their own husbands, and they were allowed to divorce if their husbands failed to provide for them or indulged in abusive behavior. How's that for first millenium feminism?
Thanks to the assistant head of school, Susan Isaacson, and teachers Lee Tenerowicz, Marcia Weiss, Todd Zinn, David Leib, Julie Tracht and Peter Levenson for all their support. Special thanks to Ben Shirken for asking so many smart questions, and to his mom, Kirsten Shirken, for helping to arrange it all.
After giving a riveting reading, Tom shocks the students by pulling out a real Viking sword and threatening to slice someone's head off if they don't validate his parking! Just kidding. The war-blade he is demonstrating is actually a perfectly-safe replica of an authentic Viking-era sword, but every bit the size and weight of a real one. Jim purchased it from a Norse history museum this summer in Sognefjord, Norway. Though the edge of the blade is dull, its point is rather sharp and we advise students to handle it carefully or else they are liable to cut themselves (or, heaven forbid, hurt a teacher who gives too much homework).
You like the feel of that, huh, kid? Well, don't get any ideas.
Even the teachers are getting ideas...
The class clown gets into the act.
(Though it flies in the face of received wisdom, in truth, the Vikings did NOT wear horned helmets as often depicted in movies, on TV, and in other pop-culture media. This is just one of the many things the children learned in our "RuneWarriors" history-quiz presentation. If you'd like us to visit your school, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. )