Example #90 Maps and Local Needs

What if looking at the local area helped children to see people as wholes?

John has responsibility for geography in his school. He wanted his unit on land use in the local neighbourhood to go beyond recording the shops and the parks, the schools and the transport.

"I started by using a parish map (http://www.achurchnearyou.com) with our local Anglican church marked on it. This immediately put the work in a different framework. We also used an aerial map of the same location. We spent some time exploring the maps and getting to know what was in the parish. I then asked pupils to list what different land uses they knew of in the parish. (Being a village school this was not too difficult.) We used the normal criteria. I made no changes there.

"We listed what we knew from memory, then different groups walked parts of the parish with adults and took photographs. We created a large parish map and marked the different types of land use, adding photographs around the map.

"I gave the pupils a second question: 'How does the land use serve the needs of people in the parish?' We talked about people not just being bodies, but minds, emotions and spirits as well. We discussed the sort of things that might come under each heading. For example, we saw the playing field as serving not just physical, but also emotional needs (friendship) and the church as serving spiritual and physical and friendship needs. We soon found that things fitted in more than one category. We talked about these not being separate 'parts' but woven together.

"We looked at our map and used colours to indicate what needs were being met. Some things had lots of colours. We analysed the land use and created graphs and this led to a discussion about whether all of people’s needs were being met. Children made suggestions concerning what was needed."

What’s going on here?

John saw his geography lesson as a way of helping his students to see people in a holistic way and to connect geography with faith and a focus on the needs of others.

He engaged students in gathering information and organising it in the light of guiding questions, helping them to make connections and gain a broader picture that included faith in a subject other than RE.

John reshaped his practice by choosing a fresh context to frame the work (parish map, serving the community), choosing questions, resources, and tasks that supported the focus and encouraged the class to be outward looking (thinking about the community’s needs), and discussing the relationship of the work to faith.

How do I do this myself?

What does this have to do with faith, hope and love?

John put faith at the centre of the local community, for the parish is about the area a church serves. John’s lesson reflects the Bible’s teaching that people are not just minds or bodies; human beings are whole creatures. The students thought about their hopes for the local community when they looked at what was missing in the community in order to serve all the needs of the people living there.

What difference does it make?

By using a parish map and his second question, John integrated faith into geography in a natural way. The students still covered the material in the curriculum but they did it differently. It helped them to see their area differently, and to relate it to other people's needs, not just their own.

Where could we go from here?

Changing the viewpoint you use can radically alter a lesson, it does not have to be a map, it can be an account of an event from a different perspective, it can be a view from an unusual angle in art, for example Salvador Dali's view of Christ from above. Changing viewpoints and contexts can help students to see things differently.

Digging deeper

The Bible is not precise in its terms: ‘soul’ can stand for the whole human being and take on the meaning ‘person’ or stand for an aspect of our being (Genesis 2:7). People are not like glove puppets, with the soul inside the body. The two are intricately connected and affect each other – they describe different facets of what we are as whole people. Worship involves the whole person as do most activities.
The human spirit makes us aware of a spiritual dimension of life and helps us to connect with God, but spirit, body and mind are intimately connected. We perceive and express the spiritual through our senses, minds and emotions.
'Flesh' is not the same as body in the Bible. It can refer to ‘flesh and blood’ as we use the term, but flesh is also used to describe any aspect of human nature that veers away from God, so it can apply to mind and emotions as well as the body. The Bible does not see the soul as good and the body as bad; both can be spiritual. The Bible talks of the mind being renewed by God (Romans 12:2). As a result those who serve human bodily, intellectual or emotional needs are as important as those who serve humanity’s spiritual needs.

Explore similar examples:

What if learning about map projections were about fairness?
What if geography looked at the spiritual dimension of people and places?
What if maps helped students to think about what we value?
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1So the heavens and the earth and everything else were created. 2By the seventh day God had finished his work, and so he rested. 3God blessed the seventh day and made it special because on that day he rested from his work. 4That's how God created the heavens and the earth. The Garden of Eden When the Lord God made the heavens and the earth, 5no grass or plants were growing anywhere. God had not yet sent any rain, and there was no one to work the land. 6But streams came up from the ground and watered the earth. 7The Lord God took a handful of soil and made a man. God breathed life into the man, and the man started breathing. 8The Lord made a garden in a place called Eden, which was in the east, and he put the man there. 9The Lord God placed all kinds of beautiful trees and fruit trees in the garden. Two other trees were in the middle of the garden. One of the trees gave lifethe other gave the power to know the difference between right and wrong. 10From Eden a river flowed out to water the garden, then it divided into four rivers. 11The first one is the River Pishon that flows through the land of Havilah, 12where pure gold, rare perfumes, and precious stones are found. 13The second is the River Gihon that winds through Ethiopia. 14The River Tigris that flows east of Assyria is the third, and the fourth is the River Euphrates. 15The Lord God put the man in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to look after it. 16But the Lord told him, You may eat fruit from any tree in the garden, 17except the one that has the power to let you know the difference between right and wrong. If you eat any fruit from that tree, you will die before the day is over! 18The Lord God said, It isn't good for the man to live alone. I need to make a suitable partner for him. 19So the Lord took some soil and made animals and birds. He brought them to the man to see what names he would give each of them. Then the man named the tame animals and the birds and the wild animals. That's how they got their names. None of these was the right kind of partner for the man. 21So the Lord God made him fall into a deep sleep, and he took out one of the man's ribs. Then after closing the man's side, 22the Lord made a woman out of the rib. The Lord God brought her to the man, 23and the man exclaimed, Here is someone like me! She is part of my body, my own flesh and bones. She came from me, a man. So I will name her Woman! 24That's why a man will leave his own father and mother. He marries a woman, and the two of them become like one person. 25Although the man and his wife were both naked, they were not ashamed. The first sin
1Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That's the most sensible way to serve God. 2Don't be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him. 3I realize how kind God has been to me, and so I tell each of you not to think you are better than you really are. Use good sense and measure yourself by the amount of faith that God has given you. 4A body is made up of many parts, and each of them has its own use. 5That's how it is with us. There are many of us, but we are each part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another. 6God has also given each of us different gifts to use. If we can prophesy, we should do it according to the amount of faith we have. 7If we can serve others, we should serve. If we can teach, we should teach. 8If we can encourage others, we should encourage them. If we can give, we should be generous. If we are leaders, we should do our best. If we are good to others, we should do it cheerfully. Rules for Christian living 9Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good. 10Love each other as brothers and sisters and honour others more than you do yourself. 11Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord. 12Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying. 13Take care of God's needy people and welcome strangers into your home. 14Ask God to bless everyone who ill-treats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them. 15When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad. 16Be friendly with everyone. Don't be proud and feel that you are cleverer than others. Make friends with ordinary people. 17Don't ill-treat someone who has ill-treated you. But try to earn the respect of others, 18and do your best to live at peace with everyone. 19Dear friends, don't try to get even. Let God take revenge. In the Scriptures the Lord says, I am the one to take revenge and pay them back. 20The Scriptures also say, If your enemies are hungry, give them something to eat. And if they are thirsty, give them something to drink. This will be the same as piling burning coals on their heads. 21Don't let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good. Obey rulers