Introduction: About the resource and its use
Water for All is a curriculum-friendly resource containing fresh material that is both challenging and inspirational. It explores the causes of water shortage, challenging the assumption that these things ‘just happen’ in the countries of the South. Instead it asks children to explore the interconnected reasons for such shortage, and the impacts these are likely to have on the lives of real people.
Examples of displacement of people and environmental degradation are presented as the results of change, which can themselves be changed for the better. The community-led approaches outlined in the case studies can teach children a great deal about active citizenship and sustainable development. Children are encouraged to learn not only about such changes, but to learn from them.
A balanced study
Water for All constitutes a powerful stimulus for work in literacy, numeracy, human geography, design and technology, PSHE, ICT, creative arts and, of course, in the dimensions of global citizenship and education for sustainable development (see Curriculum links).
Outside of Water for All, a rounded topic would probably include work on physical geography and the water cycle, with a focus on the properties and wonder of water itself through science and expressive arts. Examining supply, consumption and conservation issues nearer to home would seem essential, especially in the context of safe water being a basic right – whatever technology is being used – a strong connecting point with Water for All.
Equally important is the question of balanced representation. A resource such as Water for All offers a particular enrichment. Images and examples that cover a greater diversity of roles and settings are also needed. For instance, it would be important to include urban and modernising aspects of Africa, and UK perspectives should reflect a range of backgrounds and traditions (see Recommended resources). We also recommend using an atlas alongside the case studies, to give pupils a sense of where in the world the people they're learning about live.
Schools inevitably vary considerably in the level of media technology available to teachers and pupils. An interactive whiteboard session in one setting might elsewhere take the form of downloaded images mounted on large sheets of paper. Teachers will make their own judgements on the best and easiest ways for them to use this resource. Each of the online slide shows designed for use with pupils will open in a new browser to lock pupils into the relevant activity.
Water for All provides opportunities for whole-class and group work both at the screen and away from it. Group work might be simultaneous or consecutive (see lesson guides), but do note that group work and discussion away from the screen are vital. The screen provides information, the subsequent reflection, discussion and expression are what provide meaning. The ‘framework for tracking consequences’ provides a necessary reference point throughout the resource. But in order for children’s learning to be coherent, teachers need to follow the logical sequence of lesson plans in Water for All.
More important than the particular details, is that children enjoy a learning experience which is participatory, reflective, empathetic and open-minded, with a meaningful impact on their understanding. Water for all!