How not to be ignorant about the world

I’m sure that many readers will be familiar with Hans Rosling – one of the best TEDtalkers around I think. But perhaps not everyone will be familiar with the Ignorance Project.

The mission of Gapminder Foundation is to fight devastating ignorance with a fact-based worldview that everyone can understand. We started the Ignorance Project to investigate what the public know and don’t know about basic global patterns and macro-trends. We use surveys to ask representative groups of people simple questions about key-aspects of global development.

There are teaching materials produced as part of the project, but they are aimed more at schools than HE – but with some recontextualising they could be useful.

But the main reason I highlight this resource, and in particular the video below, is because I think it could be useful to engage students in active and critical thinking and analysis.

The ‘set-up’ by Hans will be familiar if you have watched any of his other TED talks – comparing the understanding of groups of people, in this instance starting with the audience, with what might be achieved by chimpanzees through random responses rather than through knowledge or understanding. But for this talk Hans is joined by his son Ola, who gives us tips on how we might adapt our thinking so that we can ‘beat the chimps’.

The principles of questioning our everyday ‘taken-for-granteds’ and underlying influences on thought such as the popular media could form the basis for many different types of lessons, and the context of world development makes this especially useful for anyone trying to engage students in education for sustainable development and/or global citizenship issues.

This post was one of our advent learning and teaching treats. To explore all the other treats click here.

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