Photos of the world

October 6, 2007

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0327103240-IMGP2175, originally uploaded by Dominique Schreckling.

Through the power of the internet we really can explore the world instantly on our computer screens. We can seamlessly move from one place to another watching things through the eyes of our fellow citizens wherever they might be in the world.

The web2 social networking phenomenon is bringing people together on a global scale and creating communities bigger than many countries.

This photo of Egpyt is one from someone’s huge collection of photos from Egypt. Uploaded onto Flickr the world can browse these photos individually or as a slideshow. They are easy to find as you can browse Flickr as a map of the world. This is creating a fantastic evolving library of what every corner of our planet looks like.

A great activity with students could be for students to prepare a little presentation on a place of their choice.

The students should search for photos from a place they know and could describe. They should find a good slideshow and plan some things to say about a selection of photos.

Give the students 20 minutes to prepare their presentations and then they should present to their fellow students.

A nice way to get students seeing and thinking about how different the world is, but how closely we are becoming connected.


A global society – shift happens

September 6, 2007

Why citizenship is important

September 3, 2007

I teach Citizenship and ESOL to adult migrants living in the UK and I produce English and Citizenship materials on my website, It is from this perspective that I am writing this blog, though I have lived and taught around the world and I feel the challenges are the same wherever you go.   

It is my belief that Citizenship is a vital subject to be taught and embraced by everyone who lives in a place. In a place where everyone feels like a citizen, society will flourish as people share a set of common values. Without it, people will fail to live in shared communities, and life in a place will become increasingly isolated for its inhabitants who each follow their own individual agendas. 

In the past, when there was much less mobility and movement of people, it was much easier to build a sense of citizenship amongst the population of a place because there would be generations of shared history and experience to bind the people together. In our modern times there has never been such potential for mobility, as almost every person on the planet has the ability, should they have the desire, to move wherever they choose – subject to the legal controls they may experience on their journey. In many places this has had a dramatic effect, both in terms of huge populations leaving a place, as well as huge numbers of people moving to a new place.

The UK is a good example of both, on the 22nd August 2007, the BBC (see article) reported on some interesting figures released from the Office for National Statistics. During 2006, 385,000 people left the UK. 196,000 of these were UK citizens and most of the remainder were long-term migrants leaving the UK. However, during the same period 574,000 people entered the UK, and overall the population grew by 374,000 making the total population of the UK 60,587,000. These kinds of movements in population are huge and are bound to have a significant impact on the culture and society of a country, especially when you consider that this is happening year-on-year and the statistics generally show that it is an increasing trend, both in terms of numbers coming in, and numbers leaving. Interestingly, the information from the ONS revealed another statistic that highlights the effects of the long-term pattern of migration to the UK over the past 100 years, caused mainly from World War refugees and from the movements within the British Empire. The statistic showed that 25% of new babies born in the UK are now born to at least one non-UK citizen.   

It is against this backdrop that the teaching of Citizenship becomes particularly important. It is vital that there is a sense of community among those who live in a place in order for society to survive.  However, with people moving about so much it also becomes particularly difficult to find a common basis and a length of time for citizenship to develop. As I mentioned before, in the past citizenship was built upon long standing and customs and values that evolved over time. In our current climate we don’t have that time as new people come and go with little feeling of citizenship for a place. 

The big question is how can we address this effectively? How can we teach about patriotism and Britishness when a large proportion of the population are not British? And is that what we should be teaching anyway? Over the next 2 years Citizenship is being made a central part of the UK government’s plans to improve the national curriculum in UK schools. I hope that through this blog we can share ideas, opinions and experiences of what is happening at ground level.