Y9 took on an active learning task this week to support their knowledge and understanding of life in shanty towns such as the favelas on the outskirts of Rio De Janeiro, as part of their topic this term ‘Brazil; Man vs Environment’.
Students were challenged to build a favela house, but it wasn’t as simple as it sounds! On arrival in the city, some groups had savings (up to 500 Reals) and some had brought with them tools (scissors and glue) when they migrated to the city. Others were forced off their land by drought and illegal logging companies, and arrived at the favela with nothing at all. In family groups, the students had to work out how best to proceed- they could try and find work in the informal sector (writing lines), but this was boring, low paid, and with limited opportunities available. Other use their lateral thinking skills to find other solutions, offering to work for the government officials (the teacher) to earn money, or take a turn in the favela shop, selling cardboard (wood and iron panels), windows (plastic), plumbing (bottle tops) and electricity (straws). Once money was earned and the houses began to be built, the problems hadn’t finished, the game rules were modified every few minutes, such as an approaching hurricane washing away loose structures, or a government official collecting bribes, and even a crime spree! This challenged the students to cope with working collaboratively to find solutions in a changing spiral of events, and embedding knowledge of the reality that faces shanty town dwellers around the world.