I'd like to teach the world with song
UNDERSTANDING GLOBAL ISSUES Pounds 5.95 pack or Pounds 59.50 subscription to 10 issues European Schoolbooks Publishing. HUNGER. WHO? WHERE? WHY? Pounds 2.50. Council for Education in World Citizenship, Seymour Mews House, Seymour Mews, London W1H 9PE. KENYA RESOURCE PACK Pounds 9.99. BBC Educational Publishing, White City, 201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TS. WORKING TOGETHER: THE PEOPLE OF KANJIKOLLY Pounds 25. Action Aid, 3 Church Street, Frome, Somerset BA11 1PW
Angus Willson sorts through a mixed bag of resources for use with primary pupils and comes across something to sing about. Those willing and able to enjoy their geography in the primary classroom must order Exploring Geography: songs for key stages 1 and 2 now. If you doubt you can handle the fun you should buy a copy for the car anyway.
The first of the 12 songs has a signature-tune quality (refer to geographical skills to justify repeated use) and is catchy enough from a single hearing. As a clarion call it is most convincing: "I like looking at maps of the places I don't know, I like looking at maps 'cause they show me where to go-o." Yes, and with the electronic backing it sounds happy-clappy, too! Words and music are provided, the sound quality is excellent and side two of the tape has the backing music without vocals. The songs each raise their own geographical issues and will encourage discussion.
It is certain that the panoply of organisations and individuals involved in Images of Earth - a teacher's guide to remote sensing in geography at key stage 2, embody it with post-Dearing validity. This pack addresses a wide range of teachers' needs in handling aerial photographs and satellite images. The chapter on "Introducing Images" adopts a recognisable classroom point of view and comes across in a less strident fashion than some in-service training material. Furthermore, the whole pack includes a wealth of visual resources: surely enough to get all the staff engaged somehow.
The non-specialist will be referred to a good deal of essential geography from this material and the more tekkie-types will also find plenty to enjoy. There is, however, a sense of the learners' paradox. As much as this pack re-assures that images are "simply another resource", it does as much to un-nerve the wary by describing a situation where "the image was so complex it was difficult for the teacher to answer all the questions". Genuine geographical enquiry is truly a challenge but is supported by a good selection of images and the sound guidance contained in this pack.
The images of Earth from space remind us of a very different perspective and that there is much more sea than land. With an international fishing dispute in the news again it is useful to lay hands on "World Fishing: harvesting the oceans" from the Understanding Global Issues series. These briefings, which are supplemented by wall maps and charts, are available individually and by subscription (10 issues per year) and could keep a school geography reference section better served than ageing encyclopedias. Many in Years 5 and 6 will need extra help with vocabulary but older children could research from these more independently and find the mix of text and visual information interesting.
Style and presentation should not be everything but, with the increasingly sophisticated expectations of both pupils and teachers, it does count for a lot in the success of learning material. "Hello! I'm LC, the Lunar Cosmonaut. I'm on a food-lover's tour of the Universe" does seem like a dodgy device for Hunger. Who? Where? Why?. With a topic so basic to the human condition it is extremely weak to ask children to match a food and location cards saying, "I am sugar cane. I need a warm wet climate" or "I am Colombia. I am hot and wet". It is plain crass to employ the same style to match malnourished children with the food types they lack.
As a contrast, it is pleasing to note that BBC Educational Publications is able to match the quality of BBC Schools' Television products with printed support material good enough to stand on its own. This inter-relationship between different media can not be assumed even where it might appear to come from the same source. Kenya Resource Pack is designed to supplement the series Zig Zag: Kenya. This material includes well designed photocopiable learning activities that are sound in their familiarity of classroom learning and the geographical setting.
The 20 colour photographs are top quality and mounted on stiff card. The set is completed by a simple but effective wall map. In all, it represents good design applied to a well-conceived purpose and maintains excellent value.
As if to demonstrate the video to photo-pack transfer in reverse, ActionAid has followed up the hugely successful photo pack Chembakolli - a village in India with a 40-minute programme called Working Together: the people of Kanjikolly. It adopts a-day-in-the-life as the structure so naturally divides into morning and afternoon for a more realistic viewing attention-span. This is not so laboured that children would lose the thread if the two parts were seen a week or two apart.
It raises lots of serious issues but is not afraid to have a little humour. With the clearly understood brief that the pack does not aim to provide information on the whole of India, nor claims to be typical, it does invoke a closely observed insight to a locality and its people. There are straightforward maps, background information, 32 captioned sketch-drawings and two very readable supporting booklets about the people and their various activities shown in the video. These are not glossy but the drawings are, perhaps, all the more meaningful and appropriate. Permission is given to photocopy the printed material for classroom use. If you already have Chembakolli, supplementing the photos with this video is an obvious choice. If you are considering a new or additional contrasting locality you now have an important opportunity that would be realised with confidence by purchasing this pack from such a reliable source.