The stories of favelas through building.

IMAG0296[1]The study of slums and their environments is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting and important things pupils in the UK can learn about. The standards of living, how people interact, how these communities come to be, how they function and survive are all areas of debate. I have based my year 9 topic on the challenges of urban living in the new AQA GCSE around favelas. Here is how I have included more practical aspects of favelas into my planning.

1.After looking at why urban areas grow, the focus shifts to Rio De Janeiro and each member of the class’ arrival in the city. They will need to make money so apply and are given informal sector style jobs in the classroom ( making gingerbread people/colouring in images/ cutting up pieces of paper) where they can make money ( this is fake Kermit money)

2.Next lesson, the pupils look at the characteristics of favela homes ( subverting some expectations along the way) and then, using their money they earn, buy and scavenge materials to make a cardboard favela home to house themselves in the form of a lego character. Once built, the house gets placed where each pupil likes in the favela- leading onto discussion about type of land in favelas and city composition.

3. Each lesson we learn about a different aspect of the city( sanitation/education/economic development) and one pupil per lesson builds/creates something for our favela, be it a factory, some electricity cables, sewers or the like. This represents the evolution of favelas.

4. We have just passed the point of looking at how Rio’s favelas have changed and how sporting events such as the Football World Cup or Olympics have impacted the informal settlements of the city. I gave all the pupils the option of taking the compensation offered by the government or staying in the favelas. If they stayed, their house would be left, if they took the compensation, they were a offered a number of skittles dependent on the size and quality of their homes and the home stamped on by me in a very public demolition.

5. Unbeknownst to the ‘favela dwellers’ a clearance order was signed by the Rio government (me) for their favela to be demolished over the half term. This will hopefully be met with outrage by the pupils and some debate about why this is (un)fair. This is to represent what has actually been happening in the favelas.

I hope I can extend this building concept further over the coming weeks as we look at how the government has tried to improve favelas beyond the demolition of the environment.




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