Airing different opinions

23rd January 2004 at 00:00
My Year 6 class discussed plans to build an airport in Rugby for a literacy lesson linked with geography. I brought in a lot of local newspaper reports about the proposed airport, which would destroy two or three villages, and asked the children for their views.

We discussed which people would be affected by the airport and whether anybody would benefit from it. We acted out a public meeting with a chair and speakers for and against it with everybody in a role, for example a conservationist, a villager, an out-of-work air traffic controller.

All the children commented about how it would affect them and questioned the speakers. For example, villagers were against the proposals because their houses would be knocked down and they would have to move out of a village they had lived in all their lives. Some were also concerned about noise at nights. A businessman was for the airport as he had to go abroad often and it would be easier to travel from Rugby airport than from Birmingham. Then there was a vote.

As a follow up, the children wrote reports analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the competing views and expressed their own opinions. The children developed speaking and listening skills and many have become interested in other controversial issues in the papers.

Karen O'Grady, KS2 and historygeography co-ordinator, Eastlands Primary School, Rugby

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