Teaching and learning

2 12 2009

Well today the tables were turned. As a student, I’m used to sitting in lectures, absorbing. Feeling something of a sponge, although knowledge rarely sticks beyond 24 hours, as it is wrung out to make room for the new! But that probably says more about my innability to remember than any fault on the lecturers part.

Today, however, was my turn.

I had 1 hour, 1 subject, and 4 eager students (well, 3 students and 1 GP) to impart knowledge and wisdom to!

Choosing a topic largely within my comfort zone, but also learning a lot in the process seemed a sensible direction to go. And in the end, I figured that by the time I’d left time for questions, and a fun game of snakes and ladders (with medical questions before anyone was allowed to move forwards lol), I only really needed 35-40minutes of material. This was fine, I could answer almost every little problem, and even took some time to explain how I remembered some of the equations involved. Lets just say I’m not usually a visual learner, but in this case I imagine a lady made of china and a yuppy in London (wearing a hat for reasons that make sense only to me!). Odd, but even odder is that it actually works!

Finally, as I’d heard that chewing improved memory (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2039-chewing-gum-improves-memory.html), I reassigned some of the chocolates I’d brought from the game to help with memory during the seminar parts of the session, in the hope it might help… well it kept them happy (and sugared up!), anyway! 

All in all, a success!



13 10 2009


I get goose-pimpley just thinking about this word.

In conjours images of magicians in pointy hats, flowing robes, rabbits flying out of hats, and the queen of hearts appearing on foreheads.

Yet the origins of this word are somewhat unclear, and the subject of disagreements and civil war (ok, I made that last bit up…). Myself, I am unsure about the true background of this word, but I would like to share with you a story I heard that might be a part of it’s history.

In medicine, diseases have what we in healthcare refer to as the ‘natural history’ of the disease. This is what would happen to a sufferer (and in what timescale) if the disease was left to progress naturally. Of course, with some disease, this might be along the lines of – feels ok, feels worse, body destorys itself, patient dies. Most diseases do not follow this progression. Most diseases (think coughs, colds, flu…regular things…) go – feel ok, feel worse, feel worse, feel better, feel even better, feel back to normal. Often this happens within a week or so.

It is fact that people will often come to see their doctor or seek other health advice only at a very low point. With this as the case, the doctor rarely has to do anything – the natural history of the disease is such that the person will start to feel better in a few days…REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE DOCTOR DOES!

The story I heard of the root of abracadabra works with this principle. I was told that it was a spell to cure diseases. Every day, the sufferer was to write the word ABARACADABRA down, and leave it under their pillow. Each day, the sufferer would write it with one less letter. So day 2, the word would read ABARACADABR, day 3, ABARACADAB… and so on.

This would continue until only the initial A remained, and the patient was cured.

Magic, huh?!

Jo   xx