Method 1 – The 3-Step approach

A simple but very useful ‘3-step approach’ to doing development education and global citizenship education.

"At best, a lecturer (teacher) speaks with and for her audience, not to or at it. She takes leads, images and stirrings from her audience, and reflects back to them tentative accounts and explanations for events in their and her shared experience of causality. She and they together are searching for a narrative which tells a recognisable truth."
Robin Richardson
Daring to be a Teacher (1990). Stoke-on-Trent, Trentham Books, p.8

There are many creative and productive ways of engaging with DE issues methodologically; some much more complex than others. Often we find ourselves put off by being asked to consider a whole variety of issues and challenges before we even get going – too often this can be counterproductive.

If you are looking for something simple, practical and productive (and which touches on many of the key areas of DE), then the approach outlined below may be useful.

Step One know something about your group,

what they think, know and feel about the issue you wish to discuss. Having a feel for where a group ‘is at’ on any topic is very helpful in deciding where to start and what approaches or materials may be most productive to use. It is also respectful of those with whom you wish to work. Don’t assume they know little or nothing and you are going to rectify that situation – the vast bulk of people already have considerable (mis)information, viewpoints and opinions of issues such as poverty, hunger, women’s rights, climate change etc.

Spending some time finding out about your group will pay considerable dividends later in the process.

This can be done simply in any of the following ways:

  • Use a series of quotes on the topic under discussion; ones that conflict with each other or which offer a range of views (these are easily sourced on the internet) and which are likely to stimulate a response. Invite the group to identify those that are closest to their own views (or furthest from them) etc. Get some feedback, have a discussion, note the views expressed and summarise the group’s opinions at the end.
  • Use of set of statistics/photographs/cartoons in much the same way – rank them, identify those most liked/disliked (why?), those that shock most (why?) etc. This should readily stimulate any group and promote discussion and debate.
  • Conduct a pre-workshop activity to survey the group’s knowledge and ‘feelings’ with regard to a cartoon, photo or story. Use this as a baseline and to refer to in building the rest of the activities
  • A friend of ours often began his sessions by distributing a sheet with events from history for that day (or one close by) taken from a site such as and invited members of the group to rank these events in order of importance in their view – this usually led to a lively debate as different individuals had very different views on the significance of events etc.
  • Use of video/some stimulus posters etc. and invite comment and discussion

There are a great many ways to get a group engaging and discussing – the key objective is however to obtain some idea about what your groups knows, thinks and feels about a topic.

Step Two Stimulate the group’s thinking and discussion.

Having had an initial discussion/debate on the topic, it may now be useful to stimulate the group’s ideas, thinking and discussion by introducing additional materials, facts, viewpoints, debates etc. This can be done in a number of ways:

  • through distributing handouts containing such material (opinion pieces, extracts from a report/book/poem/editorial, facts/graphs/graphics etc.
  • through making an appropriate and brief input (yourself or via an invited speaker)
  • through using a video/film etc., perhaps with a speaker(s) from Africa, Asia etc. – something to stimulate thought or challenge common myths or arguments

Whatever stimulus you use, the main objective is to encourage further thinking, discussion and conversation; to perhaps challenge ideas and opinions or to offer alternatives to dominant ideas. Your objective is to stimulate the group on the topic(s) being discussed. It is also a rich opportunity to introduce viewpoints and arguments not often heard in mainstream media and discussion.

Step Three ask the group to reflect further

having initially ‘surveyed’ the group’s ideas and thinking and then having stimulated or challenged it further, it is usually useful to take time to reflect further on the topic as a result of the discussion or conversation. This can be done in a number of ways:

  • invite members of the group to identify something ‘new’ they learned in the discussion or a viewpoint they had not considered before or a particular perspective they were challenged by (why?)
  • summarise some of the main points raised in step 1 and how these were re-enforced or challenged in step two and invite the group to comment
  • invite members of the group to think about/comment on how they ‘feel’ about the topic or issue as a result of the discussion – the same? Different? Challenged? Affirmed?
  • Finish by summarising the main points remembering to include a balanced range of viewpoints expressed even if you disagree with them (say so but…). It is important that participants feel their views have been heard and have been respected especially if there has been strong disagreement – as there usually is.