Anatomy in Primary and Secondary Schools

Updated: Oct 27, 2016

Hashtag: #GreysAnatomy

The Study of Human Anatomy

#GreysAnatomy is actually a word play on the title of a human anatomy textbook Gray’s Anatomy: Descriptive and Applied. The book was written by Henry Gray and initially published in 1858. Historically, the study of anatomy and physiology started when man started to find answers to questions regarding their own bodies. For instance, Leonardo Da Vinci allegedly dissected a human cadaver so he can accurately represent humans in art.  Anatomist William Harvey studied the human circulatory system in the late 15th century and discovered for the first time that blood has a pattern in its flow.  Another interesting discovery in the field of anatomy and medicine was painless surgery through the medicinal use of ether and nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to control the pain during the operation.

Anatomy and physiology are branches of biology and medicine, but the former is more focused on the structure of living things (human, animal, and plant) while the latter is more concern on mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of living organisms. The study of the structure of the human body in primary and secondary schools is normally aimed at providing a foundation for advanced study in fields related to health and fitness. It is also aimed at developing a sense of self-understanding, particularly to children who are curious about what’s inside the body.

Moreover, since anatomy is not limited to the human body and extend to all living organisms, students often benefits from comparative anatomy or studying other species in order to learn evolution, structural similarities and common ancestry among human and animals.  The biology curriculum in secondary schools, for instance, is not the only concern in developing students’ knowledge of the natural world in relation to everyday life, the power of reasoning and observation but familiarity with the structure and function of the human body. Specifically, students learn the change in living things through evolution, diversity of type and unity of patterns, genetic continuity of life, growth and development, preservation of life, and others.

Biology and Basic Anatomy Curriculum

Primary school students are normally introduced to the basic human skeleton or study of the skeletal system. After learning the structure, composition, and functions of the skeletal framework, students then learn the muscles and other body organs attached to it.  Some of the introductory tasks include making a (normally life size) skeleton using colored paper or card and paper fasteners.  

By drawing the bones, schoolchildren become more aware of the significant features of each bone, identify bones’ proper location and construct appropriate joint structures for them. Moreover, anatomy in this level includes simple experiments in order to explain some of the functions of the human body and compare and recognize the similarities and differences between human and animals.

However, anatomy in secondary schools is quite more complex as it involves microscopic anatomy such as the study of the structure and function of cells and tissues, senses, blood, heart, the major organs of the digestive system, and others. Some are focusing on the primary functions of the human brain, structures that enable biological systems to interact, energy and materials required to sustain life.

Overall, all key stages of anatomy-related science curriculum are aimed at providing knowledge about human and animal body structure and understanding of life processes. For instance, knowledge of human and animal anatomy help students understand the fact that humans and animals need food and water to stay alive, need to exercise, eat the right type and amount of food in order to stay healthy and strong, the beneficial and harmful effects of drugs, ability to produce offspring and senses that makes humans and animals aware of the world around them.

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