Diego Rivera's chunky 1930s wall fresco showing heavy manufacturing industry offers the opportunity to discuss the world of work in the past, present and future.
Heavy, repetitive manual work characterised many of the dirty and dangerous jobs in the 19th century and early 20th century. Ask pupils to write down what jobs they (a) would like to do in an ideal world, (b) think they really will do as adults. Why did they answer as they did in (a) and (b)? What do today's trends suggest employment will be like in the future? (Virtual disappearance of unskilled jobs; far fewer people working in factories; "portfolio" working, where people have several part-time jobs rather than a single full-time one; more "service" jobs involving working with people, in fields such as recreation, communications, care, health).
Education for the future
If there are more jobs that involve working with people, what sort of education will help? What about social skills, team working, and so on? (Do pupils work positively when in groups in school? Will this transfer into adult life? What about communication skills generally? Sixty-five per cent of girls get a GCSE English grade A to C, but only 43 per cent of boys, so will girls have an edge as "muscle" jobs are replaced by "people" jobs?) Art
Design a poster showing work in the year 2025. How different will it be from the 1930s Ford factory?
Ted Wragg is professor of education at Exeter University