Missouri Military Academy (MMA) faculty have brought the topic of pandemics in historical, scientific, economic and cultural contexts into their curriculum. Through classroom lessons, MMA cadets are exploring critical and creative ways to look at the current global crisis.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), sharing accurate information about COVID-19 can help people, particularly children and teens, feel less stress about the situation. Through education and honest discourse, children make sense of what they hear in a way that minimizes anxiety.
The following are a few ways MMA faculty are using COVID-19 and pandemics for discussion and critical thinking in their classrooms:
“In algebra, cadets are looking at different growth curves. We have discussed the exponential growth for the infection rate, and the shape of the bell curve on a graph being similar to the quadratic shape, and the effect that ‘flattening the curve’ would have on the graph, vertex, and translating how that applies to hospitals being overwhelmed, or less overwhelmed.” – Cheryl Emminger, Math Instructor
“We have added a section to the yearbook dedicated to COVID-19 and how it has affected cadet life at MMA. We are recording history as we go, so we felt it was an important topic to have featured. The cadets are working hard to accurately portray the containment on campus from their perspective.” – Sarah Stott, Yearbook Instructor
“By pure coincidence, our first chapter in biology after spring furlough was on viruses. We have been discussing the basic characteristics of viruses; how viruses like COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) replicate; the cycles of replication (lytic and lysogenic); and the impact viruses have had, and are still having, on humans and society.
We have also discussed ways to prevent and treat viral diseases like COVID-19. COVID-19 is a SARS-related virus. One of the cadets' projects was to research a viral disease and provide a report on the disease. Honestly, I have never seen the cadets more interested in this chapter before now. In a small way, I think studying viruses and talking about ways to treat and prevent viral diseases has provided a sense of calm to the cadets concerning the coronavirus. Like anything, we tend to be afraid of what we don't know. Hopefully, by knowing a little more about viruses, cadets are less fearful about this disease and pandemic.” – Mike Pemberton, Science Instructor
“In my English courses, I asked cadets to write essays about three major ways the pandemic would likely affect the world in which we live. Cadets researched past epidemics and the ramifications thereof. They were required to include data proving that their assertions were plausible, and they also had to cite where information was gleaned.
I’ve also begun each class with a current events discussion. Cadets peruse their newsfeed and share a summary of the article with their peers. Since they cannot report on the same articles, many cadets read numerous articles in case a classmate chooses the one they selected. Most of the cadets center their reading upon the virus and its impact on the world.” – David Mahurin, English Instructor
“In my classes, we are using the website ‘The U.S. Intervention Model.’ The website is a data platform that projects COVID infections, hospitalizations and deaths across the United States. They are learning how public health interventions contain the spread of COVID. The goal is to help the boys understand how this pandemic will unfold and the how our actions can reduce the spread.” – Keith Morgan, Business & Technology Instructor
“In Global Business Studies, cadets are learning about the product supply chain, manufacturing products and dependence on international countries for products with a focus on how COVID-19 has affected these elements. We have also discussed the stimulus package from the U.S. government to citizens and businesses.” – Peggy Reynard, Business Department Chair & Instructor
“In my English courses, cadets are writing essays on the potential long-term effects of the COVID pandemic in different areas such as economics, politics and sports. I’ve placed particular importance on finding credible sources – cadets will find themselves surrounded by false news and propaganda, so we researched political biases and leanings of national media sources before diving into the essays. I hope these lessons will help them be better informed citizens, able to forecast trends in industries and politics before they reach the age of investing and voting.” – Joshua Allison, English Instructor
“In my U.S. History class, cadets are learning about the pandemic of 1918 and how it compares to our current pandemic. In my U.S. Government classes, we are discussing the powers of the federal, state and local governments in dealing with a pandemic.” – Major Lawrence McClarey, Social Studies Instructor
“My JROTC LET III and IV classes have tied COVID into the leadership curriculum. Specifically, how leaders' actions assist in mitigating or worsening the response and control of a pandemic. After conducting research of a global pandemic in recorded history, cadets must analyze what actions they would have taken as a leader of the past to lessen the severity of the pandemic, and what they learned from their research that we can do to make our fight against COVID more effective.” – CAPT Joseph Balvanz, Senior Army Instructor
“In English IV, we have been reading and responding to articles on social distancing and the grief we are feeling across the world, discussing the human element and impact. Cadets also did a project called ‘A Speech for the End of the World’ where they chose a short speech from a movie about the end of the world to memorize and perform for the class.” – Madison Fitz, English Instructor
“In Art, we have discussions about COVID in some shape or form. Recently, we learned about the Spanish flu. We have also studied magazine covers to learn how they draw their cover with topics and current events they feel strongly about.” – Cheryl Morris, Art Instructor
“In my foreign language classes, we have daily discussions about the importance of disinfecting work and living spaces; proper handwashing; social distancing procedures; and keeping a positive attitude. I remind them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel; that someday soon, this will all be over – especially if we practice the guidelines given to us.” – Scott Nelson, Foreign Language Instructor
“In Reading the Bible as Literature, we have been comparing visionary and prophetic writing in the Bible with traditional literature by JRR Tolkien and JK Rowling. We've talked about prophecy for end times and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, among other topics.” – Kevin Quinn, Chaplain & Language Arts Instructor