Zombies in the Classroom

By KellyAnn Bonnell, MA

On October 25,2011 John Fuglesang tweeted, “I live in a society where a network called the History Channel can run a 2-hr prime-time special on Zombies.” The actual title of the show was Zombies: A Living History, a serious documentary that delves into the historical and fact-based origins of our current zombie fascination, including a look at the legends of Gilgamesh, Vikings, primitive Haiti, and the Bible. Then Cindy Perman wrote, Why zombies are taking over the economy and  new movie Zombie Apocalypse aired on Syfy. It all came together in this perfect storm that I simply couldn’t outrun. So with a nod that those that have made this post possible let’s take a look at Zombies in the Classroom. If the Centers for Disease Control can embrace the national obsession to teach disaster preparedness then why shouldn’t you embrace it to teach?

The history channel documentary gives you a chance to look at Zombies from an historical and contemporary perspective. More importantly, since it is a History Channel Production you shouldn’t have any difficulty with your media acquisition guidelines. But what do you do with it once you’ve got it?

Well, you could start at the beginning, after all the first written reference to the living dead can be found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which also happens to be mankind’s oldest work of literature. Imagine a literary timeline of zombie references. What high school student wouldn’t embrace that assignment?

Using Zombies as a theme allows you to expand beyond the popular culture obsession. What would happen if you asked students exploring religions of the world to look learn the myths and legends related to zombies? Think about the quality of a research paper driven by interest instead of obligation.

And what about that CDC Guide for Surviving a Zombie Apocolypse?  Guess what? Disaster and Emergency Preparedness is the same for a flood or an earthquake as it is for the Zombie Apocolypse. It’s a great chance to apply some critical thinking skills to a public document.

What to take the conversation into Economics? Consider a class  discussion on zombie economics and zombie banks.

A “zombie bank” is as “a bank or financial institution with negative net worth,” according to Investopedia. And yet, “they continue to operate as a result of government backings or bailouts that allow these banks to meet debt obligations and avoid bankruptcy. Zombie banks often have a large amount of nonperforming assets on their balance sheets, which make future earnings very unpredictable.”


Finally, take heart in this. The  zombie indicator tells us that when the economy is down the number of zombie movies goes up.

This too shall pass.

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