From local to global

20th November 1998 at 00:00
TOCUARO: A Mexican Village.

By Vincent Bunce and Wendy Morgan.

Pupil's book Pounds 5.45, set of 15 laminated map-cards Pounds 15.99.

Worldaware, 31-35 Kirby Street, London EC1N 8TE Tel: 0171 831 3844.

CHILDREN JUST LIKE US: Growing up in the Gwembe valley, Zambia.

Key stage 2 resource pack (video, poster, photocards, pupil task sheets, teacher's notes).

From harvest Help, 3-4 Old Bakery Row, Wellington, Telford TF1 1PS. Pounds 20 Development education was well served by the original national curriculum menu for primary geography, with its requirement that children study a distant locality.

If this sort of activity survives in the basics-haunted class-rooms of today, it's probably due to two things. Teachers have rediscovered children's enduring curiosity about the world beyond their immediate horizons, and have been encouraged by the emergence of a whole library of locality packs - maps, pictures, data relating to specific places and families. Most of these have come from aid agencies, but the immensely successful St Lucia pack was produced by the Geographical Association in collaboration with the development education organisation, Worldaware. The St Lucia material is now used in more than 50 per cent of UK primary schools.

The same authors have now produced equally attractive material for a Mexican village. The book follows the same logical sequence of questions, from "where is it?" to "how is it changing?" Photographs, sketches, picture-maps, topographical map extracts, house and village plans, diagrams, family trees, all ensure that a wide range of graphicacy skills are deployed. The very attractive book and map cards can be supplemented by a pack of photocards, a teacher's manual, and a poster.

The same sound pedagogical principles inform Children Just Like Us. The core resource here, however, is a 10-minute video focusing on Jali village on the shores of Lake Kariba. Of excellent visual quality, the film achieves a judicious balance between the "exotic" (the environment and life style of the Zambian children will certainly appear so to key stage 2 pupils) and the dynamic aspects emphasising real and recent achievements in education and health. An African narrator and interviews with a teacher and nurse sensibly avoid the unintended implication that such communities are merely the passive recipients of external "improvements".

Glimpses of downtown Lusaka shrewdly cope with the hazard of implying that all Zambians live in rural isolation. There is ample evidence that the children of Jali, like those of Tocuaro, know how to enjoy themselves. With its very generous documentation and classroom credibility, Children Just Like Us is good value - and in a good cause too.

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