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Uneven Development Curriculum Making

Planning to enable progression

The planning was broken down into stages:

Stage 1 – Setting the Context and Shared Understanding

Students were asked to view a PowerPoint of images and cartoons relating to uneven development and note their first response to each image. Some of these images were from previous topics to set the learning in context, some were new to students, some were ‘typical’ views of places and others sought to challenge possible existing views. They were sourced from a wide range of websites.

Students and teacher then discussed these and students were asked to draft a definition of the term ‘uneven development’. This was then compared to later responses to identify progression in understanding.

Students were shown the above image (download jpeg) and asked to describe the boy and his life. Thus we were able to make links between children’s lives and develop empathy. It helped create ‘the need to know’ in the students.

This image is taken from the GA’s manifesto for school geography ‘A Different View‘.


Stage 2 – Co-planning

Students worked in groups to discuss and mind mapped the content and key questions that they felt they should cover in a study of uneven development. Examples of their notes are shown below:


The teacher then led class discussion of these ideas. The following route to enquiry was jointly decided upon:

  • What disparities exist? Where?
  • What is the evidence for these disparities?
  • Is it accurate to divide the world into rich and poor countries?
  • Is reality like the image?
  • Why does such disparity exist? Is wealth linked to poverty? What role does the physical environment play?
  • Does aid work? Do the Millennium Development Goals work? Does charity work?
  • What has uneven development got to do with us/me?
  • What can be done to reduce uneven development?

Other questions asked by students were recorded as ‘The Questions We Want to Ask About Uneven Development‘ and revisited in subsequent lessons.


Stage 3 – Co-creation of the Curriculum

The teacher used these ideas, class discussion and the new KS3 Programme of Study to draft a scheme of work. This was reviewed by students before lessons began.


Stage 4 – Lessons and planning for progression

Lessons then followed the scheme of work and the following strategies, along with peer assessment of key activities, were used to monitor and assess the progression in student understanding of uneven development:

‘Repeat’ questions

Key questions such as ‘What do you understand by the term ‘uneven development?’ and ‘What has it got to do with us?’ were repeated throughout the unit and student response recorded in a variety of ways. Comparison of these responses allowed assessment of progress in understanding

Recording work in a variety of formats

Digital voice recorders and digital video and still cameras, email and written formats were used to record student work. This variety made for stimulating lessons and enjoyable marking. It also allowed us to focus on geographical understanding rather than a skill or project/product – we could focus on the message rather than the medium. It also helped match the range of student learning styles and preferences.

Time to respond to feedback

Time to assess work, feedback and take student response was built into lessons. Students were given time to actively discuss how they would change their thinking as new ideas were introduced.

Student observers

Students were asked to observe lessons, take photographs and comment on the learning and teaching. Thus students were able to comment on the progress occurring in lessons and gave the teacher an invaluable insight into the effectiveness of lesson activities.

Thoughtful resource selection

Stimulus resources were carefully selected to be more challenging and ‘unknown’ as lessons progressed to help students develop deeper understanding. Key resources include:

Selected Films

  • Live 8 DVD extra ‘Why does it always rain on me?’ video by Travis
  • Black Gold DVD documentary film by Nick and Marc Francis on the coffee trade

Selected websites

  • A Different View GA manifesto and images with associated activities
  • a phenomenal collection of visually stunning and hugely informative maps showing a very wide range of development indicators
  • a brilliant and up-to-date site that allows you to interrogate and present data, the video tutorials will help you ‘blow the myths’ of poverty and teach about the world as it really is now

Selected Books

  • Regan, C. ed (2006) 80:20 Development in an Unequal World published by 80:20 Educating and Acting for a Better World (book includes a CD)
  • Tide~ (2009) Enabling Global Learning Through the KS3 Curriculum published by and available from Teachers in Development Education TIDE~
  • Bolton, G. (2007) Poor Story: an insider uncovers how globalisation and good intentions have failed the world’s poor Ebury Press
  • The Atlas of Global Issues (2007) Collins

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