This is the fourth of five posts designed as a teaching mini-scheme about the controversy surrounding the MMR vaccination; it is partly inspired by the recently published work by Brian Deer. Please note I feel, quite strongly, that MMR is safe and highly desirable (albeit underused in the UK right now). This is my effort to provide colleagues with the tools (and printable resources etc) to provide good information. I suppose you could see it as immunising them against bad science such as that recently published in the Sunday Express. At the end of the five posts I will put the ideas and resources together into one downloadable scheme if there is enough feedback to make it worthwhile.
Starter: Making a Choice
Ask students to spend a couple of minutes considering the choices their parents have made for them – school, part of the country, hobbies etc. Were these choices always right? Were they well-informed?
Put students into groups – aim to mix them up in terms of gender and ability. Each group will be assigned a role and asked to discuss arguments for or against MMR vaccination. They need to be able to justify their arguments as well as quantify them (perhaps using an opinion line?). If there is time you might want to give them a chance to research their position, perhaps in their own time. The powerpoint includes printable slides which will give them a starting point, as well as information they may choose not to share with the rest of the class. These slides can be used in the plenary, after they have chosen from the point of view of a parent. Some ideas about producing a roleplay can be found here (and I’m sure at many other places too).
There are many ways the students could share the arguments they have considered. If they produce a group poster or display then the decision could be run as a marketplace activity, with one ‘stall-holder’ left to explain the ideas and the remainder considering all the opinions before making their choice. Alternatively each group could present their ideas for a couple of minutes before answering questions, or make a video explaining their thoughts – perhaps as interviews for a TV show? The most challenging would be an open discussion, hard to manage and time consuming. In some ways the ideal would be brief presentations first, then ask them to speak to each other and challenge ideas one-to-one before reforming in groups for any final questions.
Finally, all students should record their choice, perhaps using anonymous votes or personal whiteboards. It is worth pointing out that although scientific questions can’t be settled democratically, people’s choices – such as whether or not to vaccinate – are much more likely to be based on persuasion.
Tally the total score, perhaps asking them to predict the result first. How does this compare with vaccination rates, nationally and locally? (Useful figures are summarised in this report from the House of Commons Library.)
As before, I’ve put this together as immunisation4 saved as ppt. The last six slides can be printed as briefing cards for the role play, although you may have other/better ideas. If so, please share them below!