This week, we were learning about Natural Disasters. We firstly looked at what a natural disaster is and the International Federation of Red Cross defines it as “a sudden, calamitous event that seriously disrupts the functioning of a community or society and causes human, material, and economic or environmental losses that exceed the community’s or society’s ability to cope using its own resources”. Disasters can also be separated into different categories which are Geographical, Hydrological, Climatological, Meteorological and Biological. I was surprised to find out that there is so many types of disasters.
We also looked at the political and social science side of natural disasters. We started off by watching two videos comparing the impact of Hurricane Matthew in two different countries, Haiti and Florida. Whilst Haiti was destroyed, had no prior warning and relied on lots of foreign aid, Florida had had previous warning via a press announcement and the area was evacuated. I was really shocked to see how vastly different the countries responses were and some scenes were quite emotional to watch. We also learned about the effect that humans have on natural disasters, such as urbanisation, global warming or land use, and the huge impact that governments can have also, in terms of things like funding priorities, preparation or lack of and corruption, etc.
We then discussed natural disasters from a teaching standpoint and how we can teach it to children without scaring them. We shouldn’t shy away from the topic because it can be intense and frightening. Disasters can help children to look further than their own communities and towards the outside world (Halocha, 2012) which is why we need to provide our pupils with both local and global viewpoints. Natural disasters also lends itself quite well to lots of cross-curricular opportunities. For example, you could write a creative story in a literacy lesson or use ICT to research other examples of disasters and create a presentation, fact-file, leaflet, etc.
We also had a workshop on different experiments and activities that linked to natural disasters. Some were more interactive than others, such as the baking soda volcano, but it would still be a really good resource to use in class because it shows natural disasters in a fun and engaging way rather than the scary side.
Another main focus of the natural disaster topic was our micro teaching task. We were instructed to create a presentation about how we would teach a natural disaster to a class. We were given earthquakes as our disaster and I was a little unsure how to approach the topic as it can get quite technical. However, we decided to include a video that we found really explained the subject well because it talked through everything in simple language, had lots of images and provided examples to put it into context.
Using the Brookefield, S (1995) Model of Reflection, I looked back to before our lecture and how the topic of natural disasters seemed quite daunting. It can be a very emotional topic and the thought of teaching it freaked me out. However, after spending time researching and further increasing my own knowledge, the topic no longer frightens me. As a pupil, I would think that natural disasters are really interesting and it could also inspire my charitable side to help people affected both at home and abroad.
I also read an article about how countries that are affected by natural disasters are more likely to be affected by civil conflict, especially low and middle income countries. This shows that academics are starting to reflect on the aftermath of disasters and considering how the political and social factors are becoming just as important as the disaster itself (Nel,P and Righart,M 2008).
Looking over the UWS Graduate attributes, I believe that this topic has helped to create and develop certain skills and attributes. In particular, being collaborative, knowledgable and digitally literate. These are all attributes that are vital in both the professional workplace and in my personal life.
- Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San-Francisco: Jossey-Bass
•Halocha. J (2012) The Primary Teacher’s Guide to Geography. Witney: Scholastic
- Nel, P. and Righarts, M. (2008) Natural Disasters and Risk of Violent Civil Conflict. International Studies Quarterly, Volume 52 (issue 1), pp. 159-185
- www.ifrc.org, accessed october 2019