This section reflects on the experience of groups of teachers, working collaboratively to develop innovative approaches to curriculum development which takes a city focus.

Why cities and development?
What is it about cities … people and change?
Global learning and creative curriculum development
Links within this publication

Why cities and development?

‘Today, half the world’s population lives in urban areas and by the middle of this century all regions will be predominantly urban … Homo sapiens “the wise human’, will become Homo sapiens urbanus in virtually all regions of the planet.’  UN-HABITAT - State of the World’s Cities Report 2010/ 2011

Cities are places of change ~ change happens to people; people make change happen. The fact that 50% of the world’s population now live in urban areas is a major change of recent years, and it means that there are things in common for those of us living and working in cities: migration and community, poverty and conflict, climate change, economic regeneration, health and wellbeing, democracy and the impacts of globalisation.  Cities have a particular role in shaping our world because of their size and the concentration of economic, environmental, social, political, intellectual and technological power.  So our experience of living and working in Birmingham, for example, connects us to other city dwellers around the world.  This offers a rich resource for investigating global issues with young people, in a meaningful and manageable way.

This core idea is the thread connecting ideas and activities in this publication – teachers sharing ideas for exploring big issues with young people through a city perspective …

What is it about cities … people and change?

In Cities and Citizenship we say:

‘We live in an interconnected world, a world in which we are increasingly drawn into the same space and time as people in different parts of the world.’

This quote describes the interrelationship between people in diverse geographic spaces, and how they both influence and are influenced by their contexts.  This relationship is dynamic, changing across space and time.  This section offers a series of complementary activities and stimuli to enable teachers and young people to explore these ideas further. We recommend that they are most effective when seen as a suite, with each one building on the previous one. 

The diagram below illustrates some of the connections described above, and helps us to ask questions about:

  • common issues facing cities;
  • understanding how place and personal identity are connected;
  • agendas for change.

Download diagram click here

To help us to answer these questions, we need to first consider what makes a city?  Cities in common offers some starting points for exploring the ‘essence’ of cities.

How peoples’ basic needs are met, even in a refugee camp, requires the careful consideration of organisation and governance; identity and a sense of community; and the need to think about the future.

A group of teachers used images of Dadaab, a refugee camp in Northern Kenya, to explore characteristics and planning issues.  What makes a city?  suggests a series of activities based on images of Dadaab investigating its characteristics. It would be interesting to compare these across different cities to understand the similarities and differences.

Leading on from this activity, it is useful to consider the importance of the image of a place to those living there, to those visiting and as a way of securing interest and investment.  This place I call home offers a sequence of four activities exploring the image of cities focussing on:

  • Identity and connections
  • Building a sense of citizenship
  • Projecting an image – using Cardiff as an example
  • Images to issues

Exploring these ideas inevitably raises questions about development in cities, who chooses how they are represented, and how people perceive them.  Cities as a lens to the world offers a framework for researching aspects of city development and provides the basis of an interesting comparative study of cities around the world.'

Global learning and creative curriculum development

Tide~ global learning proposes that young people have an entitlement to global learning to develop…

  • A positive sense of self, respect for others and a wider sense of social responsibility;
  • Skills of enquiry and critical thinking;
  • The confidence to communicate and work as part of a team;
  • An ability to engage with different perspectives.

Also, young people are entitled to engage with…

  • Global issues [from natural, economic, social and political perspectives]
  • The reality of interdependence;
  • Processes of development and change and the implications of this;
  • The challenges of sustainability;
  • Perceptions of identities and belonging in a diverse society;
  • Debates about how we participate as citizens and recognise the rights of others in a democratic society.

So, global learning offers the opportunity to explore the complex and contested issues facing city dwellers around the world, in a meaningful way and using innovative teaching approaches.  Young people are entitled to engage with big global issues like poverty or climate change, in order to make sense of the world around them.  But …

  • What are the controversies and complexities of cities today?
  • How can thinking about cities help young people make sense of these issues?
  • What are their needs as learners?
  • What is our role as teachers in supporting young people in this task? 

Thinking about young people’s entitlement to global learning helps us to think through the core elements of what global learning might look like in practice, and what a young person might experience as they progress through their school life.  A group of teachers have explored the idea of progression in global learning.  The ideas draw upon existing criteria for Citizenship, PLTS, Literacy, Geography and PSHE.  They offer a starting point to discussions with colleagues, with questions like:

  • Would progression in global learning always be linear?
  • Should the stages be associated with levels, years or something else?

Discussions about progression in global learning are ongoing within the Tide~ network.  We’d be very interested to hear about your ideas and experiences, too.

Enabling global learning through the KS3 curriculum is a useful resource for teachers thinking about developing global learning in schools and classrooms.  It includes a range of CPD activities to support discussions with colleagues.

Links within this publication

Cities, people and change offers an approach to curriculum development for teachers, which is based on the idea that, by asking questions about our own city, we can also explore the complexities of global development, such as financial uncertainty, poverty, conflict, migration, globalisation and sustainability, in a manageable and meaningful way.

This publication offers ideas and support developed by groups of teachers, for exploring cities through a range of curriculum approaches. Follow the links below for more information.

Cities are …

… places where cultures and languages co-exist

Living archives  shares an approach using archive material to explore migration stories through Geography and History.

City languages ~ intercultural understanding through languages  offers different approaches to exploring intercultural understanding through Modern Foreign Languages.

… places where global interconnections are often made

Global connections  offers a series of activities and approaches to exploring issues of globalisation.

…hubs of political activity and influence

Dynamic cities offers an approach for exploring democracy and influence with young people, through Citizenship activities which focus on protest.

Back to Cities, people and change main page - click here