It’s always tricky to know how ‘topical’ we should be in a Politics and Society classroom. I always try and balance 3 perspectives – Theoretical, Global & National, and Personal. It can be exhausting as a Pol Soc teacher when you feel like you have to keep up with every bit of news that’s happening around the world, just on the off chance that a student asks you about it and you’re afraid that you’ll look like you don’t know what’s going on. Therein lies the path to ‘burnout’ (trust me on this one…)
The result of this, as a Pol Soc teacher, is that I’m always on the lookout for events that link in directly with ‘Key Thinker Ideas’. In particular, I’m constantly looking out for stories that seem like they can fit in with multiple different strands of the course. Well, the ongoing Indian Farmer Protests are just such a story. It’s got Vandana Shiva written all over it (and she has said a lot about it), but it also touches on parts of the course like ‘Civil Disobedience and Right to Protest’, ‘Global versus Local’, ‘Development Institutions – IMF & World Bank’, Left- and Right-wing perspectives on policy, ‘Sustainable Development’, ‘Social Class and Unionization’, Traditional and Social Media, and many, many more.
Here’s the handout in PDF and MS Word format, so that you can tinker with it to your heart’s content…
So, I put together this handout that tries to walk students through these events (who may have never heard of many aspects of this particular story before) in a way that tries to help them form links between those different aspects of the course. To do that, I took an article from Marie-Claire Magazine, not what you’d think of as one of the big centres of ‘investigative’ journalism. The fact that such a story is even printed in a magazine that describes itself as “the site that women turn to for information on fashion, style, hairstyles, beauty, women’s issues, careers, health, and relationships” should be an interesting way to get this process started with a class of students. The article also draws in from a wide variety of other news sources from the New York Times, to The BBC and Guardian, to Al Jazeera (I’ve left the links live so students can dig into the source material). The last section of the handout is some tweets from Shiva herself about the issues in the protests, and also some ‘fodder’ material from the various Navdanya blogs (2019 and 2021) about the protests, so that students have something a little more background and weighty material to directly to quote from in their exam… (Think about how engaging it would be for a student to be able to say “I came across this article in Marie-Claire, but then wanted to dig into a few more reliable sources, so I.….”
The handout includes a set of boxes to try and get students to ‘draw out’ the different kinds of essays that this material might be able to adapted to fit. They can’t learn everything off, but there should be a bunch of multi-faceted stories, like this one, that students can do detailed investigations of and gather sufficient details to get to the 20/20 range in their essay marking scheme! (very exam-focused, I know, but that’s the nature of the beast…)