January 20, 2022

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Lesson of the Day: Are We Making Progress as a Planet? Teaching With The Times’s ‘Hindsight’ Series

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2. What was the goal, promise or prediction explored in the article? Who made it and why?

3. What actually happened? In what ways were the goals or promises met? In what ways did they fall short?

4. What obstacles or challenges were met in trying to reach the goals?

5. What quote, image or detail from the article did you find most surprising, provocative or memorable?

6. Return to the warm-up activity: How does reading the article add to or change your perspective on the idea of progress? In what ways does the case study support the idea that we are making progress as a society? What questions do you still have about our abilities to solve urgent problems?

7. Why do you think The Times created the “Hindsight” series? In general, do you think that journalism focuses too much on problems rather than progress? What issue or problem would you like to see The Times explore in future installments of the series?

Option 1: Create a one-pager

Especially if members of your class all read about different issues, it might be helpful to synthesize and share what you have learned by creating a one-pager. You can start with a blank sheet of paper or use a template.

Your one-pager should include:

  • The goal, promise or prediction explored in your article.

  • At least one quote, statistic or detail from the article about what actually happened and why.

  • A drawing or other visual element that illustrates something important about the “headway” made on this problem.

But it might also include:

  • One word to capture the feeling or emotions that you are left with after reading the article.

  • One question you still have about promises, predictions and progress.

  • One quote, statistic or detail from the article about the obstacles or challenges to that original goal.

  • A prediction about the future of this issue

  • More images, colors, information and words as needed to help make sense of what you have read for an audience of your classmates.

Option 2: Share the lessons you learned with the Times Headway team

Matthew Thompson, the “Hindsight” series editor, writes in an introductory letter to readers:

“What on earth is progress? The Headway team and I would like you to help us define progress: how we measure it, and how we make it. We don’t expect to find simple answers. But the pursuit itself may light the paths to our best futures.”

The Headway team invites readers to offer their feedback about progress via a series of prompts at the end of each article. They welcome students 13 and over to post ideas to prompts like these:

  • What, if anything, surprised you about this story?

  • What would it mean to make more progress on this issue?

  • What lessons do you take from it?

Or, share your thoughts by writing to The Times at [email protected]. Be sure to include your name and your school.

Option 3: Share your thoughts and opinions about the future with other teenagers.

In a related Student Opinion question based on the article “Where Are Young People Most Optimistic? In Poorer Nations,” we ask, “Are You Optimistic About the Future?

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