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Magical Moments

November 28, 2012

Earlier in the year, I asked Michele to share a magical teaching moment. This story was so special I wanted to share it with everyone! Michele has magically laced empathy into an incredible activity. Please enjoy this wonderful experience:

“Each year as part of a module for students for Pediatric and Geriatric imaging I use an empathy activity to help students understand some of the changes a body goes through and how it effects the over abilities of our patients as we age.  Since each of us has been a child, we have some inherent understanding of what this is like, but, we have not yet entered our golden years and that is the focus of the activity.  Students are told in advance to bring close toed shoes and an old men’s dress shirt or blouse with button fronts and long sleeves that button, no other information is supplied.  They suspicious when they arrive.”

“While we discuss the conditions around the room for each group of patients, young and old, I am passing out long strands of tape at each desk and a pair of vinyl gloves.  Students shoes are then filled with un-popped popcorn kernels.  The students are then asked to begin to tape up the joints, in partners, of each of their neighboring students, high and low, a couple on each hand to represent the restricted motion that degenerative arthritis induces, a disease of aging.  Then they are asked to don the gloves, covering the finger-tips to demonstrate the loss of tactile sensation, also occurring in the aged.  While they do this they must stand up and put on their kernel filled shoes, representing bone spurring, tendonitis and neuromas in the feet which increase with aging.  Then, finally, special cardboard glasses are given out I ordered from a senior citizens agency which mirror the effects of certain eye disorders that come with aging, Cataracts, Macular Degeneration, etc. Then they must try to dress themselves and button every button accurately.”

“Then we take a walk! Up and down halls of A building, up the steps and down, each student holds onto each other for various types of support.  They complain, laugh, and fumble until we return to our classroom a few minutes later.  The discussion is always lively, usually some picture taking is involved as they want to capture the moment, but it always ends with some great insight and understanding toward why their elderly patients do or don’t do certain things well.  Somewhere, someone always ends with “I’m going to hug my grandma when I get home”.  It has always been a fun activity but with great learning taking place as well.”

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 28, 2012 7:57 am

    Nice! Literally taking a walk in their shoes! Good job Michelle!

  2. Deborah Dukes permalink
    November 28, 2012 8:18 am

    This is an amazing teaching tool! Thanks for sharing with us Michelle!

  3. November 29, 2012 6:30 am


  4. Monique Perry permalink
    November 29, 2012 10:47 am

    Great job Michele – but I wouldn’t expect anything different! 🙂

  5. Susie Turner permalink
    December 2, 2012 6:20 pm

    That is a wonderful idea!!. I have asked my students to imagine they had a certain disease or condition and they have a hard time empathizing but not with your activity.

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