Ted's teaching tips

18th February 2000 at 00:00
How to use The big picture

Why do people rush abroad each summer, fighting off others to claim a deck chair in the sun? Sun ages the skin, yet we queue up to burn ourselves. This sun-worshipper raises questions about our need for sunshine and the nature of recreation and leisure.


Why do we need sunlight? source of vitamin D, vital for your bones, cheering effect of light and warmth, too little sunshine may lead to SAD (seasonal affective disorder) in winter; photosynthesis converts radiant sun energy into chemical energy stored in green plants, turning carbon dioxide, water and minerals into organic compounds and oxygen, our food and air. Imagine you were living in ancient times and did not fully understand what the sun was, how would you explain it? source of life, controller of destiny; Egyptians thought it was the sun god Ra sailing a ship across the skies; Greeks believed it was their sun god, Helios, driving his chariot; Aztecs selected a handsome man each year to be the sun god; many tribes had sun dances and ceremonies.

Recreation and leisure

How do you like to spend your holidays? Active? Sunbathing? Playing sports and games? What is the purpose of a holiday (a rest, a change, a chance to be with friends and family, visit places)?

Why do some people come back from holiday saying they need a holiday (been over-active, eatendrunk too much, fatigued by change of familiar routine)? Should school vacations be changed so that the summer break is shorter and other holidays are longer? hat holiday pattern would you like?


(a) You win the lottery and can holiday anywhere in the world, with anyone. Describe where and with whom you would go and how you would spend the time.

(b) You go back 4,000 years in a time machine. Write a conversation between you and a member of a tribe your age as you give a scientific explanation of the sun and what it does.


This sunbather is sitting on a Spanish beach. Should we join her, or ought we to be taking holidays at home, in good old Britain?

For We don't know our own country. There are beautiful beaches, magnificent countryside, rivers, pretty towns and villages, and plenty of activities. We have no language or food problems and it helps the British economy, as money stays here instead of being spent abroad. Too much sun is bad for you: sunburn is painful, and over-exposure increases the possibility of skin cancer. Try other parts of the UK, such as Scotland; there is plenty of variety.

Against We need sunshine after the winter, and the weather can ruin holidays in Britain. In Spain and other Mediterranean countries there is plenty of sunshine in summer. Travel broadens the mind and we should explore other countries, learn their languages, eat their food. A package holiday abroad can be cheaper than a holiday at home, with a better quality hotel. Chase the sun for your long holidays; you can explore cloudy Britain during short breaks.

Ted Wragg is professor of education at the University of Exeter

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