A cornucopia of interconnected ideas
Reconnecting is the result of a three-year global education project. Theoretical issues are considered in the introductory and concluding chapters but the bulk of the book is devoted to a range of classroom activities for 11-16 year olds in art, English, geography, history, mathematics, modern foreign languages, science and technology. All the activities have been put together and trialled by subject teams in secondary schools.
Global education is about preparing pupils for our increasingly interconnected world. The authors develop this concept with the help of a model with four dimensions: the spatial (dealing with global interdependencies, eg the effects of Chernobyl); issues (key topics, eg development); the temporal (with an emphasis on the future); and the inner (dealing with self-awareness). Their analysis is interesting and poses many questions for classroom practice.
It is more difficult to draw conclusions from their review of curriculum reforms. Only brief details are given for Australia and Canada. More is said about the cross-curricular elements of the national curriculum in England and Wales and the authors remind us of the potential contained within these elements for a progressive global education.
However, by not exploring their place within the structure of (even the pre-Dearing) curriculum an exaggerated impressions of their significance is given.
The classroom activities are a cornucopia of good ideas. Although subject headings are used, the essential aim of reconnecting, "of re-establishing links between areas of human experience," is stressed throughout and teachers will want to browse through and borrow from chapters on other subject areas; for example, the geography, maths, science and technology chapters all have activities to do with water that could be linked.
In the final chapter, three case studies of schools that have attempted to integrate areas of the curriculum are presented: one focuses on the development of cross-curricular themes; one on "project weeks"; and one on inter-departmental co-operation. Some brief evaluation is provided and what are undoubtedly exciting ideas also appear to have been successful teaching and learning experiences.
This book is excellent value for money and should be in every staff library. It contains many useful activities for subject departments and many ideas for the curriculum manager. Above all, it offers a way forward for imaginative curriculum development within the framework of a national curriculum.
Keith Grimwade is head of geography at Hinchingbrooke School, Huntingdon