Reviews

Tocuaro: a Mexican village

"Development education was well served by the original national curriculum menu for primary geography, with its requirement that children study a distant locality.

If this sort of activity survives in the basics-haunted classrooms of today, it's probably due to two things. Teachers have rediscovered children's enduring curiosity about the world beyond their immediate horizons, and ... locality packs ... The immensely successful St Lucia material is now used in the more than 50 per cent of UK primary schools.

The same authors have now produced equally attractive material for a Mexican village. The book follows the same logical sequence of questions, from "where is it?" to "how is it changing?" Photographs, sketches, picture-maps, topographical map extracts, house and village plans, diagrams, family trees, all ensure that a wide range of graphicacy skills are deployed. The very attractive book and map cards can be supplemented by packs of photocards, a teachers' manual, and posters."

Michael Storm, Times Educational Supplement, 20 November 1998

Asia Pacific: Geographical Case Studies

Edited by Vincent Bunce: Worldaware/Hodder & Stoughton, 9.99

This book, published to complement a Channel 4 Schools TV series, is closely focused on the classroom, primarily at key stage 4 but quite accessible for most younger pupils.

Urban issues in Bangkok, agriculture in China, industry in Korea, tourism in Vietnam, and the finance industry in Singapore provide case studies in a colourful and well-designed text. (But why is it that in geography books, industrialists are never found without a cigar, and environmentalists always have long hair, beards and glasses?)

This book was edited by the late Vincent Bunce, whose industry and enthusiasm did so much to give development issues their curriculum high profile in school geography.

Michael Storm, The Times Educational Supplement, Curriculum Special Humanities, 1 December 2000.

Keep asking questions

Saying no to violence - children and peace. Activities for a peaceful world.
By Jan Melichar and Margaret Melicharova: Peace Pledge Union, 2000. 10.49

This book challenges the assumption that war is an inescapable, often heroic, and legitimate part of the fabric of life and 'that aggression is "natural", (as if this also meant "right").'

It does this by asking questions and encouraging children to do the same. To question is to challenge, 'and in challenging you'll begin to develop a vocabulary of peace'. 'Challenging and changing the social, political and commercial factors which create a diet of violence for children is an essential prerequisite for a better world.'

Teachers, parents and Sunday School leaders will find lots of good ideas for activities and questions to share with children. There are helpful discussions on war toys, advertisements and our whole culture of violence and some good guidelines for parents. The writers suggest not just monitoring what children watch on TV but as often as possible watching with them and discussing and questioning the programme. 'Keep the questions coming. Raising questions is always preferable to simply expressing disapproval, and has the most lasting results,' for the challenge for us all is 'serious and urgent, and it's this: the most common and most powerful images marketed to children... are violent.'

Review by Diana Lampen. Reproduced, with permission, from The Friend, 1 September 2000.