How will these resources help you? 

When we speak about development to students, they often have an innate or binary understanding of ‘them’ and ‘us’ or even ‘rich’ vs ‘poor’. Their views are often very outdated, as they are influenced by culture, subjective statistics and false presentations common in popular books and the media. Many generalisations ignore the particular characteristics and challenges of different countries within continents and regions within countries. Secondary geography teachers need to tackle these prejudices and misrepresentations by using up-to-date information from reliable sources and combining them with different views and voices. This list is accessible, contemporary and designed to encourage informed and critical thinking about world development.

Thinking about development data

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About The World - And Why Things Are Better Than You Think

by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund, published by Sceptre, (2019), 9781473637498

Hans was the ‘frontman’ of the Gapminder Foundation with its purpose to provide facts about health, development and income (amongst many others) based on real and up-to-date data. This book is about the world and how to make sense of it. It has its roots in contemporary statistical data and is particularly good for charting progress and development in a range of scales and timescales. The Introduction is a good starting point with the ‘Test Yourself’ section. Chapter 1 addresses the ’gap’ (between different parts of the world and its people) – often misunderstood by geography students and others. 
You can use this book in conjunction with the Gapminder YouTube channel, as well as several of Rosling's TED Talks.

Gapminder YouTube channel.
Although a few years old now, this talk is excellent, charting population growth with boxes: Rosling's TED Talks.

More worldly statistics

How to Make the World Add Up: Ten Rules for Thinking Differently About Numbers

by Tim Harford, published by The Bridge Street Press, (2021), 9780349143866

This thoughtful and accessible book is an excellent primer in spotting, questioning and understanding a range of statistics and will help students develop valuable 21st-century Geography skills. Harford displays a passion for helping to show that even the non-specialist can begin to understand the complex world of patterns in numbers and data. The reader needs time to consider the book’s implications, but it is accessible. The first 20 pages that form the Introduction are a smorgasbord of data and information, which would create a helpful primer for students. ‘Rule Six: Ask who is missing’ is a favourite as it invites us to consider how some information may be missed out to create a particular narrative. Students can use this book in conjunction with the data presented by the Gapminder Foundation to think about specific questions. For example: Is the GDP data from the DRC as reliable as that from Singapore? How much do I trust the life expectancy figures? Are these mean or median values? Rural or urban? The list is endless!

World Development Data Report

World Development Report 2021: Data for Better Lives

published by The World Bank Group, (2021), 9781464816000

The overview of this long and comprehensive World Bank Report is worth reading and has the mantra ‘You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data’.  The Report aims to answer two relevant but challenging questions: First, how can data better advance development objectives? Second, what kind of data governance arrangements are needed to support the generation and use of data in a safe, ethical, and secure way while also delivering value equitably? The initial parts of the Report have some fascinating vignettes of where data and development coincide. For example, on page 9, there is a poverty map of Tanzania and on page 59, mapping bike safety in Bogota. Most value for students will be by using the Overview and assessing the different types of data (especially using the infographics, e.g. page 6), which may lead to a discussion about utility, fairness and equity.

Audiovisual clip

This World - Wealth distribution

published by BBC, (2013)

A visual reflection on what poverty and richness levels can look like in today's world.

Further materials

How Africa could one day rival China, published by The Economist, (2020) Watch this video
$Trillions, published by Information is Beautiful, (2020) Access this resource
This is an excellent visualisation that shows the proportional differences in spending and assets between different countries and regions.
4 myths and misunderstandings about doing business in Africa by Nomava Zanazo, published by TED@BCG, (2021) Watch this video
David Holmes is an experienced geographer with a particular interest in technology, fieldwork and research.

Text © David Holmes, 2022.