Back to School 2018 – First Lesson

Last week the project returned to a Glasgow school to again teach a series of lessons focused on engaging with Health History.  As always the first lesson was somewhat uncertain as the abilities of the pupils need to be assessed in line with the resources and the topics. But the students responded excellently to the lesson and became keenly involved with many of the exercises.  Pox, Pus and Plague- 2018

Pox Pus and Plague

This year two smaller classes have been combined to fill the classroom which means this is highest number of students that have been taught at one time during the beginning of the programme.  The majority of the lesson was led by Simon Walker and supported by Dr. Emma Newlands.

SW Teaching lesson 1 - 2018
Simon Walker in Teaching mode for the Pox Pus and Plague Lesson

Simon began the lesson by covering what the following lessons would include and then opening the discussion for the class to find out what they knew about diseases.  Hands shot up around the room as the pupils named diseases such as flu, cholera, malaria and even smallpox.

Ethel Cromwell In Hosptial 1896
Child suffering from Smallpox in 1896

Some of the pupils could describe in detail how smallpox was now eradicated and the effects it could have on the body.  Their knowledge of the topic began more apparent as they also explained knowledge of Malaria, Cholera and Typhoid with one pupil being able to explain what a protozoa was and how it related to Malaria.

Match the Disease
Match The Disease Exercise – Lesson 1

This short teaching section was followed by the Match the Disease exercise above which the students responded to excellently as most of them managed to match the disease to the symptoms.  During this time Dr Newlands and Simon talked to the students in groups and answered individual questions that they had about diseases and epidemiology.

Simon Teaching Lesson 1 - 2018
Simon Teaching Lesson 1 – 2018

Next Simon took the students on a whistle-stop tour of the history of Smallpox, Cholera, Plague and Malaria as the students contributed to the information and raised their hands for questions.  As always the story of the Soldier who drowned in Smallpox Pus received the equal measures of groans and fascination and the focus on Glasgow being at the centre of a Cholera epidemic in 1832 was something the pupils found very interesting.

The Cow Pock or the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation
The Cow Pock or the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation

Instead of the Plague Source Analysis which we used last year, this year we returned to the more varied historical sources which included a poster for malaria, a cartoon for smallpox, a map for cholera and a picture for the plague.  This was designed to give the students more variety as last year they had been specifically focusing on plague so the lesson was rewritten to tie in with the curriculum.  The students found this a little more challenging but through group work and 1-2-1 discussion, many of them were very enthusiastic about the work.

Nineteenth-century caricature revealing the microscopic impurities found in London’s drinking water.
Nineteenth-century caricature revealing the microscopic impurities found in London’s drinking water.

Overall, this was a successful first lesson, although due to difficulties at the start it was late starting and there was not enough to time to complete the group work at the end.  The pupils engaged well with the complex new topics and quickly adapted to higher level source analysis skills and historical reasoning.  Many also expressed excitement about the next lesson which is focused on military medicine and we are very much looking forward to returning.

All of the resources for this lesson can be found here – Disease and Society

26/02/18 – Article written by S. Walker.