Places of our own;Primary;Books

1st May 1998 at 01:00
LANDMARKS SERIES. Exploring Inner Cities. Exploring Seaside Towns. Exploring Villages. By Danielle Sensier and Amanda Earl. EXPLORING SUBURBS. By Jonathan Baldwin. Wayland pound;9.99 each

Identical layouts make these books for seven to 11-year-olds ideal for use together within a comparative study of community environments. But each could be successfully used alone in a study of a single environment. Each book starts by defining its particular environment and then looks at such aspects as employment, schools, transport, change, shopping and entertainment.

People figure prominently in the excellent photographs, reminding readers that community environments are essentially about people. Brief case studies describe the community role of real, named and photographed individuals.

Inner-city life is shown as positive and vibrant, without underplaying downside issues such as homelessness and pollution. Similarly, with seaside towns, we are reminded that behind the candy floss, buckets and spades and quaint yachting marinas is a serious and increasing unemployment problem. But the Beeching railway cuts of the Sixties and their effect on village communities are seriously underplayed ("some village railway stations have closed down or have been turned into pubs or tea shops").

Dotted throughout are interesting statistics ("at the height of the tourist season, 25,000 cars a day enter Blackpool, but there are only enough parking spaces for 15,000") and boxes with useful suggestions for activities, for example, designing a postcard or finding out how far children travel to school.

The final chapter of each book offers starting points for researching a community environment. There are teacher's notes, activity boxes, a comprehensive glossary and index and a map of the United Kingdom locating the places mentioned.

Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison, a former primary head teacher, is a freelance educational writer and lecturer

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