29th November 2002 at 00:00
Iraq is a global issue of such importance that it must be addressed in all geography classrooms and Olivia Ward's article is excellent stimulus for the teacher and for older pupils.

At KS1, key questions such as "Where is it?", "What is it like?" and "How is it different to where we live?" (PoS 3 a, b and d) will help children understand more about a place that they see and hear a great deal about in the media.

At KS2, there is a requirement to teach about places in the news (PoS 3b), supported by Unit 16 of the QCA scheme of work for geography. Upper Junior children could also address "recognising how a place fits within a wider geographical context" (PoS 3g) by investigating Iraq's situation in the Middle East - Jits restricted access to the Gulf, its limited road network and its reliance on Syria and Jordan for links with the outside world are all easily apparent from a junior school atlas.

At KS3 and beyond, this article indicates a number of possibilities:

* Iraq's importance as an oil producing state, and the wider importance of the Middle East to western oil needs - Jdevelopment (PoS 6i) and resources (PoS 6k)

* The impact of sanctions on trade (PoS 3e)

* The effects of Iraq's recent history on the quality of life of different groups of people (PoS 6i ii)

* The impact of climate on human activity (PoS 6d) - Ja disturbing reminder of our relationship with the physical environment is the need to complete any military action before the unbearable heat of the Iraqi summer.

A teaching challenge is to avoid stereotypes and negative images; it is important that pupils know that this region saw the "invention" of farming, of cities and of wheeled transport - Jall key geographical themes.

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