Ted's teaching tips

4th February 2000 at 00:00
How to use The Big Picture

Children in school today may live to be 100 or more. This picture shows the wizened if dignified face of old age. It raises many questions about citizenship (looking after the elderly), personal, social and health education (lifestyles), and living processes (how we age).

Long life

How long, barring accidents, do you think you will live (in the 19th century only 6 per cent of the population was over 60, now over 20 per cent; record number of centenarians today; because of medical advances traditional 70 year lifespan already nearer 80)? How do people shorten their lives (smoke and drink excessively, take no exercise, eat an unhealthy diet - heart disease and cancer are two big killers of the middle aged; drive like maniacs; take drugs - accidents and drugs are more likely killers of young people than disease - excessive sunbathing)?

Social consequences

What are the consequences of more old people (care for the elderly, more medical facilities, residential and nursing homes needed)? How do we pay for these things (either through private insurance and pension schemes or state benefits)? Where do state benefits come from (through taxing those in work, or from taxes on goods and services; more pressure on younger people to pay for the growing band of elderly; people may have to work longer, until 70 or beyond)? Suppose you had 30 years of healthy retirement, how would you spend them - endless television? Or o activities, hobbies, reading, travelling?

Do you think children and older people, such as grandparents, get on well? Do children help older people; do grandparents have more time and patience?


(a) Describe, in as vivid a way as you can, the face in the picture; (b) write a conversation between a young person and an old person about teenagers, pop music, the 'good old days', or crime.


Should the young support the old? Whether the state or the individual should be responsible is a hot issue, even for children.

For You cannot avoid becoming elderly, so of course the Government should pay for old people. Any civilised society regards it as a duty: those in work pay for those in need. When you retire it's your turn to be looked after. Old people lived through tough times, so if they've saved a bit of money, why should they have to bankrupt themselves paying privately for nursing? Pensioners should also have free bus travel and free television licences.

Against We have a duty to provide for ourselves, not leech off others. Everyone should take out a private pension: the more you put in, the better care you get. Why should those who spend all their money get free facilities? It was OK to have state provision when few people had long lives, but with more and more old people the pressure on young and middle-aged workers will become unbearable. State care just encourages irresponsibility.

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