Ted's teaching tips

22nd September 2000 at 01:00
Children love surreal, unexpected images paired together. This is astartling, if charming, blend of old and new, plain and sophisticated.

Ancient and modern

What contrasts does the picture portray (outdoor and indoor, ancient and modern, rural and urban, simple and complex)? Why is mountain life in Tibet very different from our lifestyle (hardy, cold, fresh air, traditional farming, traffic and pollution free, simple organisation)? What is "globalisation" (the spread across the world of common cultural and economic features, often from rich Western countries, such as supermarkets, mobile phones, satellite television, football, banking, brand names like Coca-Cola, Holiday Inn and McDonald's)? How do these ideas and practices spread (air travel, migration, television, computers, multinational companies)?


What are the differences between team sports and solo sports such as pool and snooker (pressure on one person, premium on individual skill, top players often obsessive individuals, willing to practise alone for hours)? Which do you prefer? What relevance does mathematics have for snooker and pool (working out angles when balls collide or hit cushions, calculating scores)? Think of some champion snooker players; what sort of personality traits do they seem to have? Do you prefer a reliably accurate, preditable player such as Stephen Hendry, or a fast-moving risk taker such as Jimmy White? Why?


Why might this picture be called "surreal" (unexpected juxtaposition of object and a landscape)? Look at some surrealist paintings by artists such as Arp, Dali, Ernst, Magritte. How do they defy reality?


You arrive in a remote village. Describe howyou show the inhabitants for the first timesome technological wizardry such as amobile phone, a computer game, or atelevision. Don't patronise - they may have a better lifestyle than ours!


Is globalisation a positive development?

For Modern communications make globalisation inevitable. The best of what is available should be open to all. There are huge advantages, such as lower prices because of the scale of production. Vastly different banking and trading procedures in every country would be a barrier to trading and harm local economies.

Against Global culture is predominantly American. Multinationals aim to make money, not improve the quality of people's lives. Every country has its history and traditions. These should be preserved and developed, not bulldozed under a dreary sameness. Once lost, distinctive cultures will never be regained.

Ted Wragg is professor of education at the University of Exeter.

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