How do the others live?

14th December 2007 at 00:00

Understanding how countries develop can be tough, so make it exciting, says Yvonne Bryant. This lesson can be taught at key stage 4 to help pupils think about the concept of development.

To start off with, I list 10 countries on the board and ask pupils to rank them in order of perceived wealth. We discuss their reasoning and then check whether their rankings were correct.

After this, I ask them to rank each country in terms of happiness. This leads to an interesting discussion about quality of life, what it means, and how it can be measured.

Then I give the class a substantial list of development indicators, such as gross domestic product and birth rate. In pairs, they must choose one development indicator and map it on to an A3 world map. They use atlases, the internet, and Penguin's State of the World Atlas to find the data.

Between them, they decide which figures signify a more developed country and which signify a less developed one.

Then they colour in the map, using darker shades to indicate more developed countries. About 20 minutes before the end of the lesson, pupils tack their maps on the board and the class gathers round to look. We discuss the results, answering questions such as: "Is there a north-south divide?" "Which indicators measure development well?" and "Which do not and why?" I usually include a couple of red herrings (for example the size of the country) to get them thinking.

Then pupils can note down some of the key ideas they have learnt, either during the rest of the lesson or for homework.

Yvonne Bryant is a geography teacher at Simon Langton Grammar School for Girls in Canterbury.

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