As we all know February is heart month, (coincides with Valentines of course!) It got me to wondering about my own heart, and how important heart health is to teach to our students.
I teach my students about the function of the heart, the pathologies of the heart, the associated diagnostics and labs. I teach them about valves, vessels and electrical impulses. I teach them related vocabulary and abbreviations. They can label a diagram of the heart and define related terms, but do they make the connection between all of this information and the living, beating organ in their own chest cavity? Should I focus a portion of my lesson plan on heart health and healthy habits? I believe it is crucial to do so.
Smoking, poor diet, sleeping habits and other lifestyle choices can increase your chances of heart conditions developing in later life. Students often fall into one or more of these risky behavior categories, especially when cramming for exams or assessments. If students have the opportunity to reflect on their own risks, they lower their chance of developing deadly coronary conditions later in life, (ex. Coronary Artery Disease) Here is a great checklist designed by the Canadian Diabetes Association you could use with your students to begin a dialogue:
Pose the Questions: Do diet and exercise affect academic performance? Does this vary with age or gender? Do you know anyone who has suffered a coronary condition? (heart conditions affect 1 in 3)You will be amazed at the conversation this sparks and the experiences the students will share, (have kleenix ready as usually there are some challenging and emotional topics that arise)
February is a fantastic month to begin these conversations with students as there is an abundance of heart related resources, (Check out my resource section for a few). A great film on the heart to show in class is “The Mysterious Human Heart – The Silent Killer” PBS – here is the trailer via YouTube:
And be sure to check out the Heart and Stroke Foundation Website at: