1. In the first three weeks of this quarter
the students have examined the nature of disease from
the perspectives of scientists, historians, and, through
literature, also from the perspective of people affected
by the illnesses. Begin the class by asking the students
how scientists look at disease, i.e., that it is a biological
event. Then ask them how historians view disease, i.e.,
that it is the outcome of certain conditions created
by people as they come together in societies. And finally,
how do artists and writers view disease? Would they think
that it is a force behind human suffering which the writer
chronicles and sometimes tries to make sense of spiritually
In school we break things down into different components
to be able to study them more easily.
But nothing takes
place in isolation, science happens in a social context.
To understand disease authentically it is necessary
to make the connections between biological events and
interaction. Both biological functions and human actions
come together to help diseases spread. Now it is necessary
to have the students look at various conditions using
two separate ways of understanding things.
Have the students get together in small groups of two
to fill out the scientist/historian matrix.
For each method of transmission of a disease they
must describe how a scientist would view the factor and
then how an historian would see the same factor,
appropriate vocabulary for the two disciplines. There
are very specific words that are used in science
and history to describe events or conditions. Ask the
to try to use new terms that they have learned in
the first few weeks of the quarter to be as precise as
possible. Then the students need to make educated
which diseases would be found and spread by the conditions
in each category.
If the students have a hard time getting a handle on
this lesson, you may wish to do the
of transmission” with them as a class.
lesson began with a discussion of how historians, scientists,
and artists view the same thing- a disease. While the focus
of this lesson has been the ways that history and science study
a contagion, it is important to acknowledge that there are
other paths to knowledge. People have used the arts and spirituality
to also comprehend the nature of illness and how it affects
both the physical and emotional world of groups of people throughout
history. Can the students think of any books, plays, poems,
or other artistic pieces that have examined how disease affected
the writer or his or her community? The next learning cycle
will be about this realm of literature.
ways to best assess student learning in this lesson are by
evaluating the quality of the students’ participation
in the beginning and closing class discussions, to see how
much each student contributes to the group work on the matrix,
and finally, to use the accuracy of the answers on the matrix.