1. Using a story to think about local issues
Working effectively with others entails listening carefully to what they say. You need to respect, and also critically analyse, their knowledge and opinions. Students should be able to present their own knowledge and ideas in a clear and honest manner. They need to learn to work together to come up with solutions acceptable to all. There should be give and take on all sides. This is an important and difficult skill to acquire. Students will become more proficient at it the more they practise it.
In Activity 1 and Case Study 1, we ask students to consider the possible benefits of applying their knowledge of ecology and conservation to a real problem. However, they also need to take into account the views of people who may be resistant to change. They not only need to look for ways to persuade local people of the benefits of change, but should also consider whether the local community may know of factors that scientists have not considered. Case study 1 shows how one teacher used the story to revise certain topics. The activity uses a story to create interest and then a table to record key points.
Case study 1: Using a story to make revision fun
Christina Majula has a dilemma. She is keen to show her students that what they learn about ecology and conservation in school is very relevant to the daily lives of us all. She also wants the students to do well in their exams but is struggling to finish the syllabus. She plans a revision lesson which includes a story (Resource 2) to illustrate a real problem which biological knowledge and understanding could help resolve. Christina has prepared five posters which she will use as a circus of activities with her class. The posters will act as revision of the topic she has just covered with the class. Each poster provides information relevant to the problem (Resource 3). Christina reads the story to the class. She then divides the students into five groups. Each group has 10 minutes to look at each poster. She asks them to read the information and to note down some advice to the villagers with an explanation of why that would help solve their problems. She then gathers her students around the front and asks each group to report on what they have learned from one of the posters. Finally, she asks them to imagine that they were Kabwe. How could he convince the village headman that the ideas they were suggesting would work? He is young and new to the area, whereas the village headman is held in great respect. People are not likely to listen to what Kabwe has to say. The students became very animated and interested in a problem that some of them recognised.
Activity 1: Using a story to highlight a controversial issue
Tell the students you are going to read them a story about a village with problems. Ask them to note down the problems the village has faced, while you are reading. Read Kabwe’s story (Resource 2) quickly. After you have done this ask the students to tell you about the problems the village faced. They should have noted the lack of wild fruits, the poor harvests, low rainfall and lack of water (see Resource 2). Now put a table on the board with two headings: Kabwe’s views; Chanda Bwalya’s views. Ask students to take turns to read a paragraph and after each paragraph, add points to the table. Then organise them into groups and ask them to produce a poster suggesting ways of improving the situation. They should use their knowledge of science to suggest some solutions, but they should also think about who they would consult to help them and how they will convince the headman and villagers to adopt their ideas.