3. Thinking about resources and the environment
Many resources are scarce and therefore need to be properly managed. Some resources, once used, cannot be replaced. Others are plentiful at the moment, but may not be if people do not look after them or use them wisely.
In Case Study 3, the teacher uses a class debate to explore one particular resource issue. If you have older pupils, you could try this strategy, choosing any topic which is relevant to your community. The success of the debate will depend on giving the pupils time to plan their speeches well and organising the class so that pupils are clear about their roles in the debate.
In the Key Activity, you are encouraged to use another way to explore a resource issue in your area.
Case Study 3: Debating resource management
Mrs Acheampong wanted her Class 4 pupils to explore the positive and negative effects of managing natural resources. She decided to hold a debate in her class on the issue of bush burning, which had been a problem recently in the local area.
She started the lesson by writing on the chalkboard: ‘Bush burning is harmful to the community’.
Mrs Acheampong then explained how a debate works (see Resource 2: How to debate an issue). She asked for three volunteers to propose – or support – the motion and for three volunteers to argue against the motion. She explained to both teams that they must gather evidence to back up their points of view. To help them find the evidence, she encouraged each team to speak to older people in the community about why the community often burns the grass in their area. She also gave both teams some information that she found on the Internet, which looked at the role of bush burning in traditional Ghanaian communities, and some ways to manage bush burning (see Resource 3: Bush burning).
She gave the teams a week to prepare for the debate, including time in one lesson for all the class to think about the positive and negative aspects of bush burning. The rest of the class also tried to find out what they could from the local community and share this with both teams as appropriate. On the day of the debate, Mrs Acheampong reminded the class of the rules of debating, and how important it was for them to ask questions if they did not understand.
At the end of the debate, a vote was taken and the motion was carried by a large majority. Mrs Acheampong reminded the class that it was important to respect each other’s viewpoints and not to gloat as ‘winners’. She was pleased that both teams put forward interesting ideas to support or oppose the motion.
In the next lesson, Mrs Acheampong asked her pupils to brainstorm ideas of how to develop community awareness of the negative effects of bush burning and provide alternative methods of managing the land in their community. She wrote their ideas on the chalkboard and encouraged the pupils to discuss the ideas with their families.
Key Activity: Comparing places
Choose one of the images provided in Resource 4: Different environments and pin it up in your classroom. If you have photographs from a visit to a different part of your country or have access to images in a textbook or magazine you could use these. Try to choose a place that is very different to the environment of the school.
- Explain to your pupils where the photograph is of.
- Organise them into groups of three/four and ask them to think of between four and six words to describe the place.
- After five minutes, ask each group to give you one word. Write these as a word bank on the board or on a sheet of newsprint.
- Next, ask your pupils to work in their groups and to list the features of this place that are similar and different to their own environment.