Making a difference

3rd March 2006 at 00:00
A social justice resource about animal rights offers many opportunities for cross-curricular study, says Lucy Russell

Just Choices is a free key stage 3 and 4 pack comprising a 21-minute video, a poster, four photocopiable activity sheets and a colourful teacher guide. It aims to explore four social justice movements: women's rights, racial equality, environmentalism and animal rights.

However, the latter is the main focus. The video follows four American secondary school students, Apryl, Angela, Richard and Zach, as they research the treatment of animals for a class project.

The students' decision to investigate animal rights as a social justice movement is referred to in the video. It is Richard's idea and the rest of his group take a little convincing. But Richard says what they will be doing will be original - civil rights and women's suffrage will be explored by others in the class - animal rights is a modern day social justice movement.

Little other than passing mention is given to historical social justice campaigners or their campaigns. However, used in conjunction with other materials, this pack could be useful in history lessons as a springboard for exploring the history and achievements of social movements.

The pack provides a good introduction to social issues. A list of websites and relevant wider reading, which encompasses sexism, racism and environmentalism, is included. There is also potential for using this resource in history, alongside other materials, as an exercise in interpretation. There is, for example, no voice given to drug companies to explain why they think testing on animals is necessary. Similarly, the issue of factory farming is introduced and vegetarianism is advocated, but there is no discussion of developing an alternative approach to meat production (something desired by British chefs, including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall).

This is a cross-curricular resource. There is much scope for the use of this pack in English, in particular for persuasive writing. It might also be interesting in citizenship to look at the issue of animal rights alongside that of human rights and the story of the theft of Gladys Hammond's remains; as well as to encourage social responsibility and highlight how individuals can make a difference. A comment from Angela concludes the video: "I've realised making a change really isn't that hard, especially if you care about something enough. It's a decision you make.

It's yours and you just have to make it."

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