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Citizenship for cities

As a basis for a citizenship project we used the Commonwealth Games 2002 Spirit of Friendship Education Pack, which was then available from the Commonwealth Institute. Teachers could still create a similar exercise with reference to, say, the Olympic Games. I did the activity with Year 8 children.

The pack posed the question: Should the Commonwealth Games be held in the imaginary city of Livia in 2010? It enabled pupils to take part in simulation activities and role play, and in doing so practise the skills they will need in real-life situations and develop empathy with the lives of others. You could also use a real city instead of an imaginary one.

Pupils are given information on the city, such as: there is a large shanty town which would have to be razed; the infrastructure is poor, but the city is getting richer by attracting tourists; and the main hotel will have to be extended for the Games, but this will destroy an environmentally important area where plants grow, which could be used in new medicines.

Children can then role-play a meeting to decide whether the city will host the games, with each person taking a part - say a sports representative, taxi driver or environmental expert. Alternatively you can hold an open debate to discuss the impact of hosting the games on different people.

The activity taught my class that every decision has a short or long-term consequence, and that sometimes there is no solution. They had to learn to compromise and negotiate. My class voted not to go ahead - they felt the benefits didn't outweigh the disadvantages.

Janet Murray-Brown, Bourne Community College, Emsworth, West Sussex

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