Ted's teaching tips;The Big Picture

22nd October 1999 at 01:00
Where is this fascinating scene? The 'lost city of the Incas' is a romantic notion that lures thousands of visitors every year.

Incas Who were the Incas and where and when did they prosper (South American Indians; Pacific coast and Andes mountains; one of the world's great civilisations in the 15th and 16th centuries before a small force of Spanish soldiers brought about its downfall)? What was unusual about the Incas (very advanced in terms of buildings and roads, textile technology, metal work, water management, administrative structure, arithmetic; yet no evidence of a European-style written culture or wheeled vehicles)?

Mountain life Look at a map and find some of the world's large mountain ranges, such as the Himalayas, the Alps and the Andes. What is life like at high altitude (cold, difficult farming, rarefied atmosphere, unusual wildlife)? What do people need to do to survive (housing, food, clothing, warmth)?

'Lost' civilisations Can you think of any other mysterious civilisations from the past, such as Stonehenge, or legendary ones, like Atlantis? Why are we fascinated by them (romantic mystery, speculation and guesswork, fact and myth)?

Writing Imagine you are the American Hiram Bingham, who discovered Machu Picchu in 1911. You have walked for days through the dangerous Andes mountains and you suddenly see the sight in the picture. Describe how you felt and what you did.

Ted Wragg is professor of education at Exeter University The Big Picture see page 14.

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