Introduction to the Social Studies Lessons
The following three social studies lessons complement The Living Edens: Bhutan, The Last Shangri-La and provide students with opportunities to enhance their critical thinking skills and their understanding of the world. All three of these lessons ask students to think critically about the information they’ve gathered from the video as well as from the PBS Web site and other Internet sources.
I recommend beginning with "Is There An Eden?," which is designed to give students an overview of the video and of the video’s theme of Bhutan as an Eden. This lesson addresses a question that is fundamental to geography education: how and why do we perceive other places in certain ways? In this case, students must consider why the video portrays Bhutan as an Eden and, more generally, why they consider other places to be Edens. By posing this type of question, we are helping our students think critically about the ways in which they think and perceive, and we’re encouraging them to consider (or reconsider) their preconceived ideas about places with which they’ve had little or no direct contact.
The video emphasizes the ecological unity that Bhutanese Buddhists revere. "Buddhism and Ecology" asks students to research the ecological tenets of Buddhism and compare those tenets to their own cultural attitudes toward the environment and ecology. Students therefore learn about the Buddhist religion and basic ecological principles while thinking critically about their own culture.
"Bhutan: An Environmental Plan" has students combine their new knowledge of Bhutan’s Buddhist principles with a practical investigation into Bhutan’s current environmental situation. Students first look carefully at Bhutan’s natural resources and the Bhutanese government’s attitude toward preserving its environmental heritage and then devise a long-term environmental plan for Bhutan. I recommend doing this lesson after the other two.Suggestions for improvement are always welcome. Please email your suggestions to PBS Online.
About the Social Studies Lesson Plans Author
Betsy Hedberg, is a teacher and freelance curriculum writer who has published lesson plans on a variety of subjects. She received her Secondary Teaching Credential in Social Studies from Loyola Marymount University and her Master of Arts in Geography from UCLA. In addition to curriculum writing, she presents seminars and training sessions to help teachers incorporate the Internet and other technologies into their classrooms. She recently presented a seminar entitled "The World Wide Web Can Help Your Students Think Critically" at the California Council for the Social Studies 1998 annual conference. In 1997, she founded Curriculum Adventures, a curriculum development, publishing, and consulting business.