Year 8 have begun a unit of work on economic geography. We began with the topic of coal mining and followed a SOLO approach to the development of the learning. Starting with simple audio visual resources we created a Wordle of adjectives to describe conditions for coal miners. We then used excellent resources from UK coal to understand exactly how a modern mine works, recreating the longwall mining process with tables and chairs. A subsequent lesson looked at the rise and fall of the industry with a living graph forming the outcome. In the final lesson I briefly outlined some of the social and environmental issues surrounding the industry and then invited students to do some extended abstract thinking on a related topic of their choosing. They came up with some really good ideas – from looking at how old mines are made safe, debating the merits of coal vs nuclear electricity and the economics of whether it is possible to re-open old mines. My favourite piece of work was from Sam, whose poem touches on the politics of the 8o’s in a thoughtful and considered way.
Was Margaret Thatcher right to close down the coal mines?
But was she right, or was just right at the time?
Britain needed coal for electricity,
Nowadays we use other sources to power our cities,
People use coal less and less now,
How did this slide happen, how?
MAGGIE CLOSED THE MINES.
We managed to use other ways to get our power,
So in a way, did the industry turn sour?
It cost too much much, Britain needed the money,
Or did Maggie find the miners strikes just a bit funny?
Closing down the mines made some of the public unemployed,
So in reality people got annoyed.
Closing the mines may have been clever,
But today, perhaps it was a stupid thing, however
Many may argue, many a different way
But all we know for certain is that coal is still important today.