Common humanity

23rd May 2003 at 01:00
Tom Deveson looks at materials that encourage students to think beyond the classroom.

Clare Kenrick's extended visit to Zimbabwe and Zambia has inspired The Whole World in our Hands, an excellent pack of materials.

Devised for pupils in Worksop, it will be useful wherever teachers want their pupils to engage with humane issues beyond the classroom door. All profits will go to a hospice in Uganda.

With 12 large and colourful posters and seven books for teachers, it provides an entire primary school with the resources needed for thinking about the rights and needs of children in the developing world. It also contains a well-organised and clearly presented set of literacy lessons.

The youngest children can compare their own routine with that of Naison, who spends 15 hours a day working in school, at home, and in the field and garden. They can also contrast a variety of artefacts - a vacuum cleaner with a broom, a kitchen tap with a bore-hole well, a computer game with toy stones - and go on to create questions and make labels for displays, complete with full-stops and capital letters. There is no hint of embarrassment in a book about building a latrine. Instructions that include: "When it's full, add some soil and plant a banana tree", will produce lively discussion rather than sniggers.

For older children, the range of skills and subjects is more challenging.

They are asked to think about how going to school might be seen as a privilege; to try a play-script in which a true story is transposed from the journalistic mode to the dramatic; to explore how notes about an irrigation project can be summarised.

They are also asked to present opposing views on the value of the Kariba Dam. Here we find language used less for the demands of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority than to serve our common humanity.

The Whole World in our Hands: Exploring Global Issues within the Literacy Hour By Clare Kenrick and Carolyn Briggs Encircling Publications, pound;29.50 TelFax: 01302 846532


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