Different horizons

8th November 1996 at 00:00
Simon Catling reviews a selection of primary materials on distant locations. CAMBRIDGE PRIMARY GEOGRAPHY: VILLAGE LIFE IN INDIA By Steve Brace Living in St Lucia By Vincent Bunce and Wendy Morgan Pupils' books Pounds 4.25 each. Teacher's books Pounds 11.95 each Cambridge University Press

OUR PLACE: THE HARVEYS IN ST LUCIA Carlton UK TVWorldaware, 31-35 Kirby Street, London EC1N 8TE Pounds 13.50



By Catherine Duffey et al Pounds 12.95 Development Education Centre, Birmingham, Gillett Centre 998 Bristol Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham B29 6LE

ActionAid, Worldaware and The Geographical Association were among the first publishers to support the study of distant localities in national curriculum geography, with their photo packs on Chembakolli and St Lucia.

What is important about Cambridge Primary Geography's Village Life in India and Living in St Lucia is that they help schools who have selected these localities keep up-to-date.

The two packs consist of a pupil book, which can be used individually or in small group work, a teacher's guide and a set of A3 laminated picture cards in a Picture Pack. The pupil books, with full colour illustrations and maps, are clearly set out with an informative text appropriate for top juniors. The teacher's guides provide valuable background information, with a variety of photocopiable resource sheets. The Picture Packs augment the pupil books with a variety of well-focused cards using one or more photographs on one side with information and tasks for pupils on the reverse.

The material in each pack covers the landscape, people's lives, shopping, travel, farming and wider local and global links. More importantly, environmental change and development issues are effectively introduced and examined. These very useful resources extend and update available materials on Chembakolli and St Lucia.

Further support for studying St Lucia comes in the form of videos in the Our Place series from Carlton Television. The Harveys of St Lucia shows members of the family discussing and going about their daily lives. The excellent photography explores the environment and geography of the island and looks at issues associated with development on St Lucia. It supplements the other available material very well.

Birmingham Development Education Centre has a well-founded reputation for the quality of its teacher-produced resources. They are well-researched, clear about development matters and issues, informative and well presented. The Thread of the Nile and A World of Investigations are photopacks of the same high quality. Both contain robust sets of photographs and a helpful teacher's guide which includes photocopiable activity and information sheets.

Focusing on a locality study to develop a sense of life in an Egyptian village today, The Thread of the Nile uses four "threads" to examine development issues. This is a cross-curricular pack which, though strongly geographical, provides good advice on development education links with science, mathematics, history and English, as well as themes such as stereotyping. "Linking past and present" makes connections with studies of ancient Egypt, though sadly the impact of "heritage tourism" is not tackled. "The use of the Nile" will help develop the rivers theme in geography. In the same way, "Farming choices" supports the study of the location of human activities in a locality. "Community life" explores family life, religious values and interdependence, giving a strong sense of village life.

A World of Investigations is a photo pack for key stages 1 and 2 which introduces development education through investigative groupwork in primary science. Among the topics covered are energy use and conservation, rubbish and recycling, health and pollution, farming and soil erosion, homes and building materials and transport.

Photographs are used as the stimulus to debating and investigating these topics. Examples from Bolivia, Chile, Nepal, Bangladesh, Chad and Egypt enable children to explore the wider context of science in the world around us.

The photopack provides clear practical activities and illustrates the use of observation, investigation, testing and evaluating findings, and progression in topics such as recycling waste. While six-year-olds might consider ways to recycle different sorts of paper, seven-year-olds would look at the uses of packaging materials and 10-year-olds investigate other uses for plastic bottles and crisp packets.

In the light of this practical experience and using the stimulus photograph of people "harvesting resources" from a rubbish dump in the Phillipines, children can examine how some people live by reusing a variety of materials, refashioning them for personal use or for barter or sale.

This pack encourages children to examine why people recycle materials, the effect on daily life and its impact on environmental issues and gender roles. This is a valuable and stimulating pack which brings alive a global dimension in science.

Simon Catling is deputy head of the School of Education, Oxford Brookes University

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