Ted's teaching tips

12th January 2001 at 00:00
We take roads for granted nowadays, but they are a vital part of our economic history. Look what happens when roads are closed, flooded, or under repair. This picture raises important issues about transport, ancient and modern.


Why have roads been so important in our history (transport goods, people; link towns and villages, so they are not cut off from each other)? Think of some roads you know well (route to school, own road, town high street, motorway). What sort of traffic do they carry? Get pairs of children to do a transport survey of various streets, checking what type of cars, lorries, buses come by and in what volume. Then display and compare findings to see what characterises residential, arterial and shopping streets. How are roads built (some flattened, unsurfaced dust tracks; others built of concrete, stone, cobbles, or tarmac)? Why is the early 19th-century Scottish engineer John McAdam an international hero (he invented Tarmac - tar-McAdam - which gave the world firm road surfaces)? Prince William has been helping with road-building in Chile during his gap year. What is a gap year (the time between finishing school and starting university)? Would you like to go to another country and build roads?

Landscape painting

Look at some of the great landscape artists, including those who did other styles of painting (Bellini, Duerer, Rembrandt, Cezanne, Van Gogh; Chinese, Japanese, African, American, Australasian artists). How do they achieve their effects? Study this picture carefully (the sky, bridge, bildings, figures, trees) and see what the artist does to capture a mood, create a sense of scale, highlight key features, and uses light to draw you through the picture. Try painting your own landscape, thinking carefully about scale, mood, elements.

Work relationships

Some of the people in the picture seem to be in charge. What do you know about the world of work and the relationship between employers and employees, or bosses and the workforce? What sort of relationships would you want if you were (a) the boss, (b) the employee (do you think differently in each of the two roles)?


Windmills represent a magical remnant of former times. Describe how you are working on the road in the picture when you and a friend decide to climb the hill and look inside the mysterious windmill. What do you find?


Should bosses be treated differently?


Bosses who become too familiar with employees lose their authority. People in charge have usually worked hard for promotion and have to take responsibility, so privileges - a company car, a higher salary - and status are fair rewards, acting as incentives.


Status and privilege are outmoded concepts in the workplace, and "fat cat" bonuses have been widely criticised. Many firms have reduced the distance between management and workers to improve productivity. Less well-paid employees may have dangerous or unhealthy jobs. They deserve due reward too.

Ted Wragg is professor of education at the University of Exeter

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