Slumming it

With grade 12 IBDP students now only a matter of weeks away from their final exams, in my economics class we are coming to the end of the specification. The last topic is Development Economics – the smallest in terms of content to understand and learn, but arguably the most important topic with respect to humanity. As the name suggests the topic looks at why poor countries became and remain poor and what the developed countries can and should do about it. In essence it comes down to the arguments for and against globalisation.

I like to finish the topic, and therefore course, with a question that combines all the students’ economics knowledge whilst getting them to think about gloabilsation from an economics perspective and assess whether, on balance, it is something to be encouraged or held back. After all they are tomorrow’s captains of industry, government officials and global citizens. In the past I would provide the students with a provocative article or section from a book and base the question on that. However, I’m realising that using imagery could be so much more simple and effective at the same time. Certainly the evidence provided by John Medina is compelling.

The following is the photograph I intend to use. The question will be a variation on: “To what extent does the picture prove that globalization is a failed experiment”. I need to think more about the question to get it more in line with IB language and what the students are used to, but the essence will remain the same.

Mumbai Slums by Paulswarbrick - Published under CC Attribution-ShareAlike license

Although it is far better than I could do, as a picture it doesn’t meet many of the standards set by Presentation Zen. But I like it for its imperfections. Normally I would show this different picture in class as a discussion point, but I can’t find any licensing information for it. As I’m trying to be better at only posting creative commons images, the picture above is a good replacement. Using an image would be different for the students who in IBDP economics rely entirely on written data and commentary from which to respond. It would certainly get them to think differently. From my perspective the picture has a number of levels that I hope the students will uncover, both pro and anti globalisation. Some of these aspects could be:

  • The disparity of income between rich and poor and how globalisation results in this;
  • The slightly smoggy middle distance representing the impact of globalisation on the environment;
  • That despite being poor some of their basic needs are being met – clothing and shelter are visible;
  • The use of adverts representing choice for consumers;
  • The buildings in the background representing development and aspiration of future economic prosperity; and
  • The train line representing the importance of infrastructure.

It will be interesting to see how it works out.


  • February 13, 2012 - 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts behind choosing this particular visual for the IBDP econ class. I am curious how the class analyzed the photo.

    As a foreign language teacher, choosing the visuals are always a challenge. Especially when the backgrounds of the students are mixed as the case of most of the international school settings, the common denominator for the understanding of the culture seem to be somewhat limited for having the class meaningful discussions.

    I learned a lot from the Australia イチオシ体験site to where I was guided through ‘Presentation Zen’. The site is an amazingly organized navigation site for the interested travelers. Presentation Zen
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  • February 15, 2012 - 4:22 pm | Permalink

    I think this would be a great start to get conversations flowing than simply reading an article. Discussing this in groups would hopefully bring out all the points you raised and I would bet the students more engaged in discussing aspects. Would like to hear in a future post the results of the “experiment.”

  • March 14, 2012 - 1:43 pm | Permalink

    You could also spin this and ask the question, “To what extent is globalization a failed experiment.” and have students find CC images that show both sides of the argument. This would force them to be more thoughtful about their searches (if your students are like mine they just put in the question and go to google news) and demonstrate an understanding of the complexities of globalization. As an added bonus, you would then have a bank of globalization pictures ready for next year.
    And as a side note, it’s good to see where my MYP humanities kids need to be when they get to DP Econ level, as its the one I know the least about. Warning…they will come in spelling globalization with a “z”.

  • March 17, 2012 - 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic! After you have students talk about this image, could you have them find their own visual representations of the challenges of globalization and do a modified version of the Presentation Ping Pong we did in our last COETAIL session? It would be interesting to see what kinds of selections students make, and how they can explain and share their understanding without specific prompts.

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