Student Well-Being

Colleagues

March 01, 2004 2 min read

Infectious Enthusiasm

Every day’s a sick day for students in Jason Rosé's epidemiology class.
—Photograph by Fred Mertz

In 1773, an outbreak of yellow fever in Philadelphia sent residents fleeing in panic from the city and crushed efforts to dissuade the federal government from relocating to Washington, D.C. Sound like something students would read about in history class? At the King’s Academy, a college preparatory Christian school in Sunnyvale, California, kids study this story and others like it in a science class called Pestilence and Civilization.

Designed by AP chemistry teacher Jason Rosé, the course examines epidemiology and the influence of disease on culture, medicine, and society. A history buff and biochemist by training, Rosé hopes students will leave his class with both a healthy respect for infectious diseases and the knowledge to combat them.

Rosé created his curriculum five years ago, culling most of the required reading from his own library. Students study the medical literature on specific diseases, including bubonic plague, smallpox, and cholera, along with eyewitness accounts of plagues from such sources as Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year and records kept by the conquistadors. They also examine disease references in the works of Shakespeare and Chaucer.

Students say the course gives them a new perspective on history and science. “I learned that we very nearly lost the Revolutionary War because of our troops’ lack of immunity to smallpox,” says Charlotte Carnevale, 20, now a sophomore at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. “That’s something they don’t tell you in conventional history books.”

Rosé also sets up microbiology labs that recreate the late-19th century experiments of Nobel Prize winner Robert Koch, the scientist who initiated the protocols doctors use today to diagnose a disease’s origins. But Rosé isn’t content to let his students think the days of plague live in history books. He also sets them loose on campus to swab surfaces, then test for bacteria.

With SARS, AIDS, and other diseases still threatening lives, Rosé says the course resonates with 21st century teenagers. He presses that advantage by stressing that prevention and education can avert large-scale epidemiological disasters.

Yet despite the often-depressing subject matter, “I have a lot of fun,” Rosé confesses. When students understand something, he says, “it’s really, really cool to see...the lights go on.”

—Aviva Werner

Related Tags:

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
The Social-Emotional Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on American Schoolchildren
Hear new findings from an analysis of our 300 million student survey responses along with district leaders on new trends in student SEL.
Content provided by Panorama

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being When Teachers and School Counselors Become Informal Mentors, Students Thrive
New research shows that informal school-based mentorships lead to academic success. But not all students have equal access to mentors.
6 min read
Image of an adult and student talking as they walk down a school hallway.
kali9/E+
Student Well-Being CDC Calls for Return to Universal Masking in Schools
Reversing a decision it made earlier this month, the federal agency said even vaccinated students and adults should wear face coverings.
6 min read
White Plains High School students walk between classes, Thursday, April 22, 2021, in White Plains, N.Y.
Students walk between classes at White Plains High School in White Plains, N.Y., earlier this year.
Mark Lennihan/AP
Student Well-Being What the Research Says Here's One Way to Keep School Buses Safe During the Pandemic
With nearly all students expected to return to campus in the fall, districts will face big challenges transporting large groups safely.
2 min read
Elementary school students sit on board a school bus after attending in-person classes at school in Wheeling, Ill., on Nov. 19, 2020. Keeping masks on and windows open can reduce the risk of COVID-19, even when students cannot keep distant, new research suggests.
Elementary school students wearing masks sit on board a school bus after attending in-person classes in Wheeling, Ill., last November.
Nam Y. Huh/AP
Student Well-Being Spotlight Spotlight on Student Health & Safety
In this Spotlight, assess what the data says and how educators can play a part in protecting their students, and more.