Zombies are everywhere these days and it seems classrooms are no different. More and more teachers are turning to the undead to try to make their subjects more engaging. After all, isn’t any lesson enhanced with a sprinkling of flesh-munchers? Here’s a few of my favourite examples.
1. Teaching Geography With Zombies: Let’s face it, geography can get a little bit boring from time to time so why not liven it up with some walking dead? This is what Zombie-Based Learning aims to do. It presents students with a zombie apocalypse scenario in a graphic novel called Dead Reckon. This then forms the basis for lessons and projects than introduce students to geographic concepts such as what different types of maps are used for. You can find out more at http://blog.zombiebased.com/.
2. Zombie Science: Unlike vampires, zombies can have a good scientific basis and this makes it easy to weave the undead into areas of science as different as disease transmission, neurobiology and pandemic preparedness. This can help kids develop critical thinking and learn how to apply theoretical knowledge to real life scenarios. You can learn more about this here.
3. Zombies And International Politics: We live in a global society and it’s important the people learn how the world is connected. This means that everyone needs to understand how international politics can affect things like climate change, terrorism and financial contagion, and what better to way to do this than using zombies? This is the approach that Professor Dan Drezner of Tuff’s University is using. For more information on this example, click here.
4. Sociology And The Zombie Apocalypse: This is the name of a class taught by Professor Jared Cootz of Lone State College just outside of Houston, Texas. It focuses on the cultural impacts of zombies. Since the course involves reading World War Z and watching Romero movies you can bet the students don’t have trouble doing their homework! Click here to find out more.
5. Human Behavioural Responses To Catastrophes: Michigan State University also offers a course based around zombies, but this time they’re used to teach students about human behaviour, and specifically how humans react to catastrophic events. As you can imagine, zombie apocalypse scenarios provide the perfect backdrop for learning about such things. You can find out more about this here.
6. Learning Grammar With Zombies: As any author knows, using an active voice is the key to creating a gripping tale but many people have trouble telling the difference between an active and a passive voice in their writing. However, there’s a sneaky (and fun!) zombie-based way of working this out: if you can insert the phrase ‘by zombies’ after the verb in a sentence and it still makes sense (at least from a grammatical point of view!) then it’s written in the passive voice. Not seeing how this works? Here’s an example: ‘Detective Sharp was followed [by zombies] back to the police station.’ Now that’s a grammar rule anyone can remember! You can find more examples here.
7. Mathematical Zombies:* Maths and zombies are natural bed-fellows, after all it’s often their sheer weight of numbers that makes them so dangerous. Zombies can be used in almost any mathematical problem to make them more interesting. For example, you can calculate how long it will take for zombies to get from your local graveyard to your house at a given shambling speed (click here for more information); you can calculate how long it will take zombies to take over the world for a given transmission rate and how you can stop it (click here to find out more); and you can calculate how long it will take you to mow down an approaching zombie horde with your machine gun given its firing rate, the number of bullets its magazine holds and how long it takes to reload (you can find out more about this here).
*As a spin-off to this posting, I’ve now created a new blog called Maths With Zombies (http://MathsWithZombies.wordpress.com) where I’m going to explore my twin addictions of zombies and recreational mathematics in more detail. I’m aiming to post a new maths problem each week based in and around a zombie apocalypse. If you’re interested, check it out.
From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.
To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.