Let's see, what do I like the most? History and Health. Sounds like a great college course.
And an honors collquium at The University of Akron was born: What is Health and How Has Our Concept of it Changed?
Basic question: What is health?
A simple definition to explain today's meaning of health is hard enough, let alone one that explains some of the oddities of the past.
I want the course to not only be informative, but also useful. The students should take something away that they can put to use, besides just fun facts.
So, I've essentially sliced the hour and a half class into smaller sections.
Section 1: History
I find the history of health fads amusing. And it's not like we have it figured out today—there's still questionable fads advertised to strengthen your muscles or help you lose weight or lower cholesterol or look prettier or play harder. It'll probably always be this way. However, picking on the older diets is more fun.
Consider the Kellogg brother's Battle Creek Sanitarium at the turn of the last century.
The facility grew from a larger health fad that took the world by storm. Basically, there existed a growing middle class by the late 1800s who had some money to spend on leisure activities (this is also why we get organized sports sprouting up at this time, as well as that whole national parks idea).
Anyway, the founders of that Kellogg's breakfast cereal believed in a healthy diet and excercise. They promoted a kind of vegetarian diet, which included the newly invented corn flakes.
As an inducted member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, John Harvey Kellogg subscribed to a diet of blandness, which he believed would decrease excitement—of both the stomach and loins.
As a doctor, John Harvey understood the ins and outs of the human body, and thus loved his enema machine that he used on all of his patients. Yikes! And after a few uncomfortable moments, the patients were healthy, or something.
Section 2: Modern Health
There are dozens of diets out there. How many can you name? Think for a moment . . .
Let's see, there's Atkins, Vegan, Raw, Mediterranean, the Zone, South Beach Diet, Blood Type, Caveman, Cleanses, Macrobiotic, Weight Watchers, blah blah blah blah . . . and they go on and on and on.
So, which is the best? A, B, or C?
D. None of them.
None of them can claim universal bestness. Each works for certain people, and each fails for certain people. Some of them are attracted to this population, and some of them are attracted to that population. Dieters can combine one diet with another, and dieters can take an idea of one and blend it with an idea of another.
There is one thing that all of the ideas have in common: they restrict. And people hate restrictions, especially Americans.
But, even though none is best, it'll still be a blast for students to analyze one and even experience one for a time, just to see what happens. Mwha ha ha ha ha!
Section 3: Guests
Nothing helps a class flow like a guest. Not only does it shake things up a bit, but it also brings another perspective.
I'll have health experts, health entrepreneurs, and health officials. Should be fun.
And, if you'd like to contribute your health experience or expertise, contact me. Anyone can be a guest speaker. Heck, I'm the teacher.
So . . .
Here's to a new year and a new colloquium that gets students to ask questions and build solutions, so that when they complete the course in May, they leave as more powerful citizens, thanks to what they experienced in the colloquium.
Working Class Vegan Man
Vegan guy who likes sports, beer, and eating healthy.
He's no dummy either. He's got 3 degrees, including a master of arts in international relations. Formerly head grillbilly for the Nashville Sounds minor league baseball team (and formerly 50 lbs heavier), he's on a mission to de-sissify eating healthy.