Middle schoolers love to debate, and they have much to say. We have witnessed two 8th graders arguing whether or not teenagers should get an allowance for chores, and a group of 7th graders debating which is better: Marvel or DC Comics! Teachers make the most of this adolescent passion by incorporating debate skills in the classroom. This year, we took it to a whole new level by conducting a two-week collaborative unit: Pandemic.
The Pandemic Theme was woven into each lesson plan of the day. Pandemic literature meant reading Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death. Pandemic history explored how governments have responded to rapidly spreading viruses. Pandemic science focused on diseases. The Biblical worldview was also examined, specifically the Church’s response to pandemics such as the Black Plague and AIDS.
Our special guest, microbiologist Robert Edgar, spoke regarding God’s reign in all areas of our lives--from minutest cell to the expanse of the universe. Mr. Edgar not only discussed the science aspect of pandemics, he also explained that the greatest pandemic of all is our own sin. In the midst of studying pandemics, it was good to reflect upon the fact that the Lord is in control and will make all things new. How wonderful that Jesus is the Healer and Redeemer!
Our unit culminated with a formal debate. The topics included: ethics of stem cell research, social media use during crisis, and government’s role in a pandemic. Every student contributed to the debate team: researching platforms, composing speeches, forming rebuttals, and writing closing remarks.
The collaborative unit was rewarding, evidenced in the quality of the students’ debates. We plan on continuing this new tradition of a two-week themed study, so stay tuned for an announcement of next year’s topic!