This is a tried and tested activity for classes of all abilities following a GCSE History course that includes a Medicine through time unit. It has previously been used as both an introductory exercise (able groups) and as a revision exercise for mixed classes. It highlights the various types of beliefs and treatments available in the Medieval period whilst also showing that there was a class divide. The activity was designed to be completed in an hour long session in a large classroom. It works best with tables and chairs rearranged. This activity inspired some of the activities included in my work published by Hodder Murray.
Are your pupils up for the challenge of acting as Medieval Doctors? Can they distinguish between the different types of healer that existed? Perhaps they can check out the different treatments on offer and compare them? But which can they afford? Which are really available to all? Of course there’s a danger that the treatment might be as dangerous as the condition, is that a risk worth taking?
In this exercise pupils take on the roles of doctors, physicians, herbalists and patients. They take part in a large medical marketplace which allows diagnosis, consideration of the various treatments and discussion about the treatments to take place quickly. Pupils who have a depth knowledge can be stretched through giving them very specific roles; those who struggle with concepts and ideas about medicine are supported through the exercise through acting as patients. They record the variety of things on offer for their ailment.
The task is highly active. It encourages discussion and could lead to debate about the different treatments becoming quite heated!
Featured in Teaching History, the journal for History teachers produced by the Historical Association.