The World Population Video is one of our signature teaching tools, simulating the history of population growth over the past two millennia and projecting growth into the near future. White dots appear on a map of the world, each representing clusters of 1 million people. The map begins in year 1 C.E. and moves forward in time to the year 2030. As time ticks by, more and more dots are added to the map; what started with roughly 150 dots in 1 C.E. ends with over 8,000 (i.e., 8 billion people) in the year 2030.
Last week, I presented six workshops at three universities in northern Utah – Weber State University, Utah Valley University, and the University of Utah. Two specific local topics came up in almost every session – large families and the Kennecott copper mine.
Whether it's Saudi women protesting for the right to drive cars or a Pakistani girl (Malala) speaking out for girls' education in the face of brutal violence, we regularly see examples of gender inequality in the world's headlines. In fact, in every country, there is some disparity between the opportunities afforded men and women. Since 2006, this disparity has been calculated by the World Economic Forum. In their just-released Global Gender Gap Report 2013, they provide scores and and rankings for 136 countries.
At first glance, it may seem that population issues are too complex to teach to students in grades K-2. Not so! In fact, population relates to many of the core principals in an early childhood classroom: sharing, investigating the natural world, considering others and discovering a sense of place in a community.
In an ecosystem, everything is connected to everything else, and the well-being of one can affect the well-being of all. It’s important for lower elementary and early childhood students to understand this concept and recognize that as humans, our actions have effects on all sorts of living things found in the communities and environments in which we live.
Calls came into our office this month from teachers at two DC area high schools asking for guest speakers on population for their AP Human Geography classes. It wasn’t a coincidence. This is October – the month that the teachers get to the “Population and Migration” unit in their syllabus for the AP course.
The beginning of a new school year is an exciting time, but it can also be an intimidating time for a teacher. There are 180 school days, and it is up to the teacher to make sure that those days matter. If you talk to different people or read certain news articles, you might get varied ideas of what “matters” in the teaching profession. Meeting your state standards? That your students do their homework or pass their tests? That they get an “A”?