Reading The Plague and playing Pandemic to cope with COVID-19

Some people like to distract themselves from a worldwide disaster, like, say, a viral pandemic. A few of us instead double down and dig in. I’m easing my anxieties over COVID-19-induced uncertainty by looking to the past and playing Pandemic.

Maybe this kind of deep dive is perverse, but I’ve always been the sort of person who fixates on one particular subject until I’ve had my fill. I also tend to find life infinitely fascinating, so my next obsession is a matter of when, not if. Examining any source of anxiety helps me ease my mind.

What could be more natural than studying up on what’s threatening to take me down?

I’d guess I’m not the only bookworm who has cracked a copy of Camus’ “The Plague” or Boccaccio’s Decameron” in recent months. I’m reading Defoe’s “A Journal of the Plague Year,” too.

For those who prefer their erudition by video, The Great Courses’ “The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague” by Dorsey Armstrong, Ph.D., is a fantastic and informative production. My public library offers this title on DVD to borrow for free, but it can also be had instantly at a cost via Amazon or from the publisher’s own site (Course No. 8241) .

Almost nothing has made me feel more lucky to be alive today than confronting the mortality statistics of previous pandemics!

Along similar lines, I finally bought a copy of the perennially popular cooperative board game “Pandemic”. I love the fact that the game’s creator started work on it when he realized competitive games were negatively affecting his relationship with his wife. I love proactive people who build solutions to share with others.

Pandemic was published in the USA in 2008; I’ve got the 2013 updated edition. The game is suitable for ages 8+. Two to four players are required to play, and each session takes about 45 minutes.

We played our first round of Pandemic as a family last weekend. For a proper game review, I’d suggest Board Game Geek or Board Game Quest.

Playing board and instructions for Pandemic gameI’m proud to say we succeeded on the first try! at defeating the game’s four viral invaders. My eldest child deserves most of the credit as he internalized the win conditions faster than the rest of us, and he was able to bully coax us into following his plan to victory.

Parents with upper-elementary to middle grade children who obsess like I do could also check out Royal Fireworks Press′s Problem-Based Learning unit, “Plague!” to explore with the kiddos. If DS2 happened to be my home educated child, we would have used this unit for history this year already, but his private school did a reasonable job of transitioning to online teaching in the spring.

RFWP Plague Parent Manual book coverResumption of in person school next month for one of my kids is yet another cause of the anxiety I fight by studying historic plagues. Owning the “Plague! Parent Manual” just might make me feel a bit better even though there’s no reason whatsoever that it actually should.

Irrational? Sure. But learning something new is never a waste of time.

What do you say, readers? Is anyone else obsessed with historic plagues lately?

Learning “pods” or larger families with multiple kids who study together might prefer the “Black Death” Unit Set. It’s the same Resource Book used for group learning, with one Problem Log required for each student. This was the original version of this educational product; “Plague!” was adapted from “Black Death” for home educationBlack Death & Plague Resource Book cover


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