National curriculum geography - extending knowledge about the Middle East

National curriculum links:

  • locational knowledge of the Middle East
  • place knowledge of a region within Asia
  • physical geography - key processes in hydrology
  • human geography - use of natural resources
  • geographical skills and fieldwork - globe, map and atlas knowledge

About this resource

The new national curriculum for England aims to ensure that all pupils develop ‘contextual knowledge of the location of globally significant places’. This type of knowledge – taught well – can be enabling as it helps pupils to understand the characteristics of a place or region, the ways in which it is changing, why people might feel attached to it and so on (Keeping up with curriculum change by Alan Kinder, Teaching Geography summer 2013). There are few world regions with greater significance in terms of current affairs than the Middle East, and yet the region is sometimes overlooked within the curriculum, since its human geography is associated with conflict and controversy.

With 5% of the world’s population but only 1% of its water, conflicts over basic resources can be a source of underlying tension in a region characterised by ethnic and religious diversity. The use of water can help pupils to understand how life in the Middle East can be very similar to, but also different from, living in the UK. Unequal access to water resources also raises questions of rights and responsibilities, power and poverty, consumption and sustainability.

Teaching about water security

The activities and ideas in this resource, linked from the menu below, are from lessons 4 and 6 of Water works: do we have equal rights to resources? by Sarah Watts.

Focusing on the Middle East, Water Works examines the demands placed on this limited natural resource; geographical disparities of access; and water as a source of possible future conflicts. Students will decide for themselves if our current rate of water consumption is sustainable, and how water conflicts might be resolved.



Lesson plan: Who owns the world's water? >>>

This fully resourced lesson includes three detailed information sheets and an activity sheet that can be freely downloaded. It addresses the following key questions:

  • What happens when rivers and sources of water are shared between countries?
  • What impacts can building dams have?

Lesson plan: Is water used fairly in Israel and the West Bank? >>>

This fully resourced lesson includes two detailed information sheets and two activity sheets that can be freely downloaded. It addresses the following key questions:

  • How do Israelis and Palestinians feel about the unequal supply of water?
  • Should people always have equal access to water?

Further Middle East teaching resources

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