Eyam Museum
Classwork example

The World Picture and the Cause of Plague.

A useful exercise here would be to talk about the progress that has been made over many centuries in understanding the link between disease and hygiene. A book entitled 'Clean & Decent' is a useful handbook for the teacher on the subject of the development of baths and lavatories. Project work with drawings could be undertaken. Older family members will no doubt supply graphic anecdotes.

Some simple science on the subject of diseases caused by bacteria could be introduced. A book entitled 'Horrible Bugs' provides a humorous approach, and should be on sale in the shop. Others can be obtained from libraries as the teacher considers suitable. Video information may be available to schools with the appropriate equipment. Group work might be a useful approach, with small groups working on topics such as: Black Rats and Brown Rats. Rubbish disposal, past and present.

A history of baths and / or lavatories (Grandparents will have some memories). Going to the doctor, then and now. Horrid habits, particularly in wartime. The whole class could be given some hints that, in spite of the progress made, we are not perfect. They may already know enough to suggest that pollution of different kinds is a present-day problem that could kill nearly as many people as the plagues of old.

Take CARE that information given to classes is accurate and adapted to the understanding of the pupils. They enjoy ghoulish details, but can frighten themselves and each other and spread unneccessary alarm. Select your material with discretion and be reassuring. No one is going to die of plague, or anything else, because a pet picks up a flea!

Roman Baths may be a good topic to enliven a history lesson about the Roman Empire, which did, in fact, spread its influence into Derbyshire and the lead mining district of which Eyam is a part. Buxton is only a few miles away, and has connections with Roman baths and medicinal springs. Information on this town, and on other Roman antiquities in the area, is easily available from the town's Tourist Office - telephone 01298 25106. The way in which fighting soldiers spread the infection by catapulting plague-ridden corpses amongst the enemy will have captured the young imagination. Compare this episode with the story of the Trojan Horse, or that of the English prisoners of war who used a vaulting horse to cloak their escape plans from the Germans, which someones Grandad may remember. This could provide a basis for subsequent dramatic or written work, or perhaps a poem.

Spelling and new words:

CLEANLINESS               CONTINENT                 RUBBISH

EUROPE                          WASTE                        ASIA

VERMIN                            ROMAN                        LAUNDRY

EMPIRE