Responsible consumers

27th April 2001 at 01:00
Alan Combes looks at some citizenship resources for Damp;T.

As a core subject, technology can contribute to citizenship through the four key stages. Some of the attractive learning materials and resources already available should enhance the "host subject" as well as citizenship.

The flexible nature of Damp;T in the middle years of education, especially in the "developing, planning and communicating ideas" aspect, means that material can often be applied at both key stages 2 and 3. For example, The Paper Bag Game (Christian Aid), available from the Oxfam catalogue for pound;3, helps pupils to learn about trade, sweat-shop working conditions and quality control of simple basic products, within one 60-minute lesson. Using newspaper sheets to create the paper bags in the activity calls for young people to make a basic but clever product in small teams. The potential in terms of product design and learning about less developed economies is immense.

Prophets of 21st-century doom have cited access to fresh water as the issue of the century and the likeliest cause of war between nations. Knowledge of how to locate and raise water is indeed a technological issue. Water: the Earth Strikes Back is the Oxfam catalogue's latest thought-provoker from Belitha Press (pound;10.99). Oxfam also sells Guidelines for Global Issues in Technology (Intermediate Technology, pound;5.99), which includes cameo case studies and a list of recommended resources. Visit the website: www.oxfam.org.uk The Scottish Development Education Centre (Scotdec) has a splendid catalogue of materials ranging across issues such as sustainable development and technology, global issues, food and farming. Scotdec's Technology: Who Needs it? (pound;5) claims to be for nine to 11-year-olds, but I have used some of the photocopiable worksheets with KS3 upils very effectively. The unit on disability education produced a stimulating PSE lesson and I liked the look of the unit on technology down the ages. Toying with Technology (pound;30), which contains a video, storybook and teacher's book, uses the universality of toys to promote a cross-curricular initiative The catalogue can be ordered on the website: www.scotdec.org.uk Many secondary schools that have made only limited progress in citizenship so far may get a pleasant surprise once they test the waters and will discover how much they are actually doing already. Once the audit is completed, and citizenship areas identified, it is largely a matter of packaging and plotting, and this is certainly the case with technology.

At KS4 pupils are required to design and make a project linked to their own interests, and consider how technology affects society and their own lives. This work is likely to give an insight into how the (local) economy functions as well as the rights and responsibilities of consumers, employees and employers.

Whatever product or artefact pupils create, they initially undertake research into the attitudes of others (ie, a community). There is a need to consider production and assembly issues (employment) and marketing and buying issues (consumption) as an integral part of the project. If the school's citizenship manager can join forces with the Damp;T department, it should be possible to produce a basic template that fulfils citizenship requirements as well as taking the student's technology project forward.

* Oxfam resources: Bournemouth English Book Centre, tel: 01202 712933. E-mail: oxfam@bebc.co.uk * Scotdec resources: E-mail: resources@scotdec.org.uk Alan Combes is a former head of English and works for Cable Education training teachers for citizenship


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