Section 2: Starting Points

5 ‘starters for ten’

Cities are incredibly complex things and there is enough material out there to keep anyone busy for years. It is important not to loose that complexity, but if we are confronted with it too soon, then it can become daunting and obstructive. We have found that a useful way to counter this is to quite simply ‘start with what we know’.

By starting with something that is familiar and accessible we have found that it allows us to:

    * clear through some of the obstacles and get stuck in;
    * build confidence in both staff and pupils;
    * generate new ideas and questions of our own;
    * set agendas for more in depth investigation;
    * develop a sense of ownership and engagement.

We offer here, five ideas to ‘start with what we know’, each designed to offer stimulus for a short 10-15 minute activity for those coming to cities for the first time. These purposefully engage with a range of different media to meet a range of different learning styles and abilities.

We invite you to explore these and think about how you might use them to work with pupils or colleagues;

    * What questions do they generate?
    * How could you extend them into bigger activities?
    * How could you use them locally?
    * What is their cross-curricula appeal?
    * How do they unlock the potential of cities for exploring global citizenship?

We’d be very interested to hear about the different ways you might choose to use the stimuli – all feedback is welcome. You can send feedback to

Our Urban Future

[short film presentation]  Watch the short online film ‘Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth’ by visiting

Living in an Urban World  [thematic map of the world]

Click on the link here to download the pdf map ‘The new urban world’ which appeared in a Guardian report in 2007. Take a few moments to study it.

Different Voices  [real life biographies]

Visit the Mumbai Stories website from the BBC at
Select one or more of the characters from the bar at top of article (* Domestic maid * Leather worker * Dharavi housewife * College student * Pottery owner * Aircraft engineer) and take a few moments to read their stories.

Picturing the city  [ICT activity – image research]

Go to the website of Lonely Planet at and select a region from the list on the right. Then select a city from the ‘popular places’ list for that region. This will open a page for that city that includes a short photo gallery (max 10 images). Click to open the photo gallery and look at all of the images.

The word on the street  [viewpoint sorting activity]

Click on the link here to download a pdf document containing some viewpoints/opinions about cities. Take some time to look at and read each of the viewpoints.