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Ted's teaching tips

This moving picture of a premature baby raises many issues about modern medicine, the miracle of life and the drive to survive. The topic requires sensitive handling.

Birth

How long are babies in the womb? (about nine months) The baby in the picture is only about six months old, so what does "premature" mean? (A baby arriving three weeks or more late is called "postmature".) How much did you weigh when you were born? (girls about seven pounds, boys about eight pounds) If the baby weighs only one pound, how big is it? (Think of a one-pound pack of sausages!) Bring in a picture of yourself as a baby.Why do we feel protective of babies? (small, soft, large round head, vulnerable, next generation) Medicine

How are premature babies kept alive? (An incubator controls temperature, air supply, humidity; baby fed through a tube.) Think of other medical developments: heart, kidney, liver transplants; drugs for blood pressure, cancer, etc; vaccination (reduced polio, wiped out smallpox); keyhole surgery(tiny incision means quicker recovery, eg, appendix removal).

Writing

a) Describe our drive to survive, giving examples (premature babies; people desperately staying alive ina desert or jungle, resisting physical attack, defending themselves in a war).

b) Pretend you are the parent of this tiny baby. Tell of your feelings when doctors keep the baby alive and it grows up to be a healthy child.

Ted Wragg is professor of education at Exeter University

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