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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Myth of Trust

Categories:s1 and s2
Making a return to wallwisher with this newer s1 rotation, and doing a little bit of a variation on a theme. Last time, we started looking at the rainforest by just doing a general round up of interesting facts. This time, we've been a little more specific. At the end of last week, I played devils advocate to the class when I asked them why we should bother about the rainforest. I was quite surprised by how indignant my class were about the viewpoint I was portraying. A sample of typical parts of the conversation:
Student: All of the animals would lose their habitats
Teacher: Never been one for pets, what do I care about Toucans?
Student: But what about the oxygen?
Teacher: Science is always progressing, I'm sure we'll come up with a solution
Student: People in the tribes will lose their home
Teacher: as long as I'm not losing mine...
I really learned from this that, as a teacher, we probably have more influence over the class than we ever think. I also learned that many of the students only seemed to have been exposed to a single viewpoint. One boy in particular was ready to agree with me wholeheartedly. When I asked him why, he offered 'Because you are the teacher, so you must know it's true' (or words to that effect). That makes it even more important that we aren't just feeding classes information, but asking them to question it. To that end, I have asked the class to make their own contribution to that debate and to look for the facts. Therefore, any point that they make, they should be able to back it up (which brings another dimension regarding the reliability of sources...). After we have reviewed this, I want the class to think more deeply about the environment which they are studying by doing a tried and tested rainforest plane crash mind movie. Val Adam has used a really nice example of this in her Glow group, but I have always done this as a sensory activity. Asking students to think what they can see, for instance, can bring very vivid descriptions of what they understand the rainforest to be like, and can also help deal with misconceptions - for example, many students meet people in their stories and only really think about the small probability of this when brought to their attention by someone else.


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