Ethics and events

12th September 2003 at 01:00
David Mansfield reviews textbooks for key stages 3 and 4

Ethics and Citizenship - Tools for Moral Decision-Making

By Patricia Born and Paula Mirk with Jim Mulligan and Emily Price

Institute for Global EthicsHodder amp; Stoughton pound;36.99

Citizenship Cross-curricular Resource Pack

By Victor Watton and Robert Stone

Hodder amp; Stoughton pound;35

Folens GCSE Citizenship Studies

Edited by Peter Brett, David Coulson-Lowes, Richard Davison, Elizabeth West and Bernard Williams

Folens pound;9.99, Teacher's Guide pound;29.95

Folens GCSE Citizenship Coursework Studies

By Richard Davison and Mike Gould

Folens pound;39.95

Success for School GCSE Short Course Citizenship

By Kim Richardson

Letts pound;6.50

Teaching Resources (photocopiable)

By Kim Richardson and Trevor Green

Letts pound;25

Get Into Citizenship KS4 Series

Edited by Larry Hartley

pfp pound;2 each for orders over 61 with teacher's guides

As new citizenship resources roll out in response to curriculum requirements, publishers are interpreting the rubric in an increasingly creative and eye-catching fashion.

Ethics and Citizenship, a toolkit of resources, is aimed at helping young people at key stage 3 to make ethically based decisions. The materials comprise well-structured lesson notes and photocopiable worksheets that could make up a discrete course or be integrated into the existing curriculum via the clearly indicated links. Each unit demands that students review a selection of materials and decide how to respond. Topics used to stimulate ethical debate range from a review of animal rights legislation to using money raised for charity to buy a pizza. Various moral tests are suggested, with activities that encourage students to apply them in different situations.

Key concepts guide students into framing their own code of conduct based on shared moral values. The unit on right versus right, for example, introduces "four dilemma paradigms" and the concept of the "higher right", and provides challenging role-plays and scenarios in which to apply these principles. Case studies, questions and accessible resources are then used to develop ideas relevant to teenagers.

The section on "moral courage" is an unusual yet profound piece of work that not only reviews the lives of Anne Frank and Emmeline Pankhurst, but constructs a set of ethics which students can apply in and out of school.

For schools that do not teach citizenship separately, Victor Watton and Robert Stone have produced a useful spiral-bound guide. This cross-curricular pack provides a wide variety of activities and photocopiable worksheets for individual subjects in KS3 and 4. Language and science are excluded, but useful ideas are collated for assemblies and citizenship days. For example, the history section offers follow-up exercises on Magna Carta, the Poor Law, the Civil War, the franchise and the United Nations.

Folens GCSE Citizenship Studies is an impressive full-colour publication covering six major themes (belonging, rights, a stable society, making a change, the wide world and media), carefully crafted into three case studies with a key question in each. The textbook uses one of the best selections of diagrams, cartoons, charts and contemporary source material that I have seen at this level. It is well written and pithily constructed.

The pages are not too busy, nor are the topics dumbed down. Indeed the section on "How does the global economy work?" is a tour de force in simplifying basic economics and placing them in an international context.

Inevitably, the text throws up as many questions as it answers, but it provides a good starting point. One suspects, however, that the range of the book will require additional teacher support.

Letts have produced a straightforward, colourful GCSE short course textbook, with a very usable photocopiable set of teaching resources. The famous Letts' ability to summarise, exemplified in their excellent revision guides, comes to the fore here. The one unit per double-page spread ensures maximum coverage, but without real depth. However, this well designed set of resources will be handy for classes taught by nonspecialists.

Get Into Citizenship provides another approach for key stage 4 with a series of five topic books and teacher's guides. Single-unit texts allow real flexibility. Topics can be selected and class sets shared around a year group with units studied in rotation.

The five books (Crime and Legal Systems; Government and Decision-making; Economy, Finance and Consumer Issues; Global Citizenship; Responsibilities, Rights and Diversity) are each made up of 10 four-page chapters with three assessments focusing on a specific skill - using knowledge, using evidence, and essay writing. Each chapter is somewhat formulaic - a clear lesson objective, a "getting started" section to provide key data, and an issue to think about. But the main material is presented in a series of useful student activities. This is the best feature. The teacher's guides are easy to follow, again making the course very user-friendly for the non-specialist.

David Mansfield is headteacher at Southend High School for Girls, Essex

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