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The history of the teaching of gross anatomy and how we got to where we are!

Moxham, Bernard and Plaisant, Odile 2014. The history of the teaching of gross anatomy and how we got to where we are! European Journal of Anatomy 18 (3) , pp. 219-244.

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Evidence primarily from historical considerations is gathered to compare a variety of approaches to the teaching and learning of gross (topographical) human anatomy. The historical approach adopted is not just a chronological approach to the development of pedagogy but is conceptually based to underline the changing culture of medicine and the ways in which normal and abnormal structure and function have been considered. Although there is often claimed to be an unbreachable divide between ‘traditionalists’ and ‘modernists’ amongst teachers of gross anatomy, and although the method of teaching gross anatomy by means of dissection by the students is frequently referred to as the ‘traditional’ method, historically this method only came into its heyday relatively recently when legislation permitted a sufficiency of bodies to dissect and with the advent of experiential learning and the development of the idea of students achieving competency skills. Paradoxically, the so-called ‘modern’ way (e.g. problem-based learning, computer-based learning) that relies more on library/book work and computer simulations harks back to the pre-Renaissance scholastic approach. Our findings suggest that, as anatomy teaching has moved away from dissection by students, the culture of medicine has become more inclined towards the disease-based model and not towards the functionality (health) -based model. Overall, we conclude that the main focus of attention historically has been the rôle of dissection. Where in the past religious authorities were foremost in condemning dissection now it is academic and postmodernist strictures that denigrate historical perspectives.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: The Spanish Society of Anatomy
ISSN: 1136-4890
Date of Acceptance: 25 June 2014
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2019 13:04

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