Ted's teaching tips

3rd March 2000 at 00:00
How to use The big picture

In western society we are resigned to traffic jams. This Third World equivalent, despite the occasional motorised rickshaw, is quite "green". Improving mass and individual transport is a huge issue in our society and a strong topic in school, in geography and citizenship lessons.

Transport How do you come to school? By car? Do you cycle? Take the bus or train? Or do you walk? How many carbus travellers would be willing to come by a "greener" means? Are there alternatives to traffic jams, or do bypasses, motorways, tolls and parking restrictions simply transfer the problems? What do you think will happen in future? Helicopters? Gridlock? Ten-lane motorways? Will we need a new rail network? Work out a journey from your house to Piccadilly Circus in London (or the Eiffel Tower in Paris) by each means of transport. Which of them do you like best and least? Look at the history of each form of transport, rail, car etc. How old are they?

Cities What are the advantages of city life (good shops, entertainments, choice, almost 24-hour and seven-days-a-week services, hospitals etc near to hand, plenty of company)? What does this picture tell you about some of the disadvantages (overcrowding, rush hours, communication problems, frustration)? If you had a choice, would you live in a big city, or a small town or village, and why? Find some of the big cities in the world on a map (London, New York, Moscow, Paris, Calcutta, Rio, Sydney, Tokyo, Berlin, Beijing, Hong Kong). What do you know about them?

Writing Imagine you have been transported a undred years into the future into a 22nd century city; describe what it looks like and how people travel around it. Taxi drivers are usually good conversationists, so pretend you are the driver of one of the rickshaws in the picture and you have an unusual and intriguing passenger; describe your conversation.

Ted's talking points

Most suggestions for reducing traffic congestion are controversial with one group or another. But should we ban non-residents' cars completely from city centres or areas of natural beauty, like Dartmoor and the seaside?


We are clogging up our cities and ruining coastlines and the countryside with cars. If non-residents had to use buses and trains, there would be fewer traffic jams, the air quality would improve and journeys would be quicker. "Park and ride" schemes work perfectly well in many areas. People would have to walk and cycle more, so they would be healthier. Less traffic means fewer accidents. More pedestrian precincts and car-free beaches would be very civilised.


In modern times it should be a democratic right, not just a privilege, to be able to drive to your destination. Public transport is often squalid, service is erratic and it doesn't stop where you want. Build more bypasses so that through-traffic can avoid city centres. You don't have to impose a ban - there are alternatives, like charging for access. Children, the elderly and disabled people often need cars. Public transport simply isn't suitable for everyone.

Ted Wragg is professor of education at the University of Exeter

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