What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures is the fourth book released by author Malcolm Gladwell, on October 20, 2009. The book is a compilation of the journalist's articles published in The New Yorker.
John Rock’s Error: What the Inventor of the Birth Control Pill Didn’t Know About Women’s Health
John Rock had 5 children and 19 grandchildren. He was deeply religious, in love with his church, and one of the inventors of the birth-control pill. He became famous in 1960 once the FDA approved the Pill, appearing on CBS and NBC, and in many prominent magazines. He believed the Pill was a “natural” method of birth control since its ingredients duplicated substances that were already in a woman’s body. He saw significant theological significance to this and believed that it was similar to the church-sanctioned practice of the rhythm method. Only after he passed away, were we able to untangle his mixed-up dictates of religion and the principles of science.
Beverly Strassmann was a scientist who examined the menstruation history of tribes of women in Africa. She noted that they typically menstruated only about 100 times in their lifetime, whereas modern women may menstruate 300-400 times. She proposed that what we think of as normal (frequent menses) is abnormal in evolutionary terms. Since the risk of ovarian cancer increases with frequency of menses, the artificially created 28-day cycle of the Pill was only serving to perpetuate the notion that a 28day menstruation cycle was the healthiest choice for a woman’s body.
Subsequent birth control products worked to extend the time between periods for up to 12 weeks. This science wasn’t known at the time of Rock’s invention, so it was an inadvertent error on his part. As Gladwell writes, “it was the fault of the haphazard nature of science, which all too often produces progress in advance of understanding." This is the most significant takeaway message from this story. We can rely on the best science of the day, but the best understanding of that science isn’t always available until a later point in time.
This is teaching materials for a New Yorker article.
The vocabulary, questions, and research for this article are mostly related to the women’s health, cancer, and the invention of the birth control pill.
Before the reading or the assessment, there is a pre-reading sheet that asks students for prior knowledge, opinions, and prediction on the subject, along with vocabulary acquisition (words that need to be introduced to better understand the information) and priming the reader in order to get them to think about the subject.
The post reading assessments included vocabulary acquisition, critical thinking questions, and recall or comprehension questions on one sheet. These questions come in the forms of a mixture of matching, short answer, and multiple-choice. By completing this sheet the student will demonstrate an understanding of the material on multiple levels. The student will also need to use the internet to complete some simple research to answer
The other assessment is a creative art sheet. The creative art sheet asks the student to use the details from the article and their own knowledge, experiences, and imagination to synthesize a totally new work, this is a picture that is a visual representation that recreates of details, person or maybe the student's use or view of an aspect of the article. Along with this picture the student will explain their work with a short explanation.
While these articles are part of Gladwell’s book “What the Dog Saw” they were all previously publish and are available free for download on the author's website and from the New Yorker, as this is the case I am including the article.
The materials provided
1 Informational article
1 Post reading informational article worksheet
1 Pre-reading informational article worksheet
1 Creative Art Sheet
1 Answer Key