The world map

9th September 2005 at 01:00
This term, Peter Greaves takes a global perspective. This week: The world map A new year brings new resolutions. I hope these will be longer lasting than my usual ones to eat more healthily and learn to play a new musical instrument.

This year, I want my pupils to have a truly global experience. By the 2012 Olympic games it would be good if they understood something about what a global event is. Even if they can't join in the national anthem of Azerbaijan, I would like my Year 34 pupils to have some idea of what it takes to bring the world together for such an event.

They will already have learned much about their world, of course, but nothing can be assumed. I spent a few summers working in American camps and was staggered at what I perceived to be a culture of introspection among the kids. I remember walking with Jimmy, an articulate and intelligent nine-year-old: "Where are you from?" he asked. "England," I said. A puzzled look came across his face, before asking, "Then how come you speak English so good?"

I have since realised the ignorance was mine. This is not a characteristic of a particular nation, but the hallmark of being a kid. There are exceptions, of course, but most pupils will not make connections between one aspect of international knowledge and another. I was talking to James, a nine-year-old in my class, who is also articulate and intelligent. We were discussing G8 when he asked: "Do they have McDonald's in America?" I started laughing, then realised he wasn't and neither were the other pupils.

So I unleash the first weapon in my international campaign - the world map.

I have several on display in the classroom, with different projections and orientations. There are some really "kiddie friendly" maps available these days, with a "Where's Wally?" kind of approach. They are filled with facts and figures that will appeal to trivia lovers and will draw their eyes to areas of the world that might otherwise be overlooked.

The key is to have these maps at finger-pointing height. They attract kids who then draw in others as they find names and places that are familiar to them, yet so intangible when it comes to grasping distance and size.

In addition to these big maps, I have placed smaller ones in resource boxes. These boxes take a different form in each classroom, but I think every teacher has their "essentials" box of whiteboards, number lines, phonic charts, and so on. This year, I've decided to embark on an adventure that will help my pupils to understand that the world map is an "essential" of my classroom. I hope they enjoy the ride.

Peter Greaves teaches at Dovelands Primary School in Leicester Email: primary@tes.co.uk

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