Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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18 May 2007

Transition Tales – Introducing Peak Oil into Schools # Session 2.

**Peak Oil Session – Transition Tales.**

computerTransition Town Totnes’s **Transition Tales** project just did its first workshop with the local secondary school, year 9 students (13-14), which went well. It is part of a 3 session pilot we are doing, this being the middle session about peak oil and the degree of our oil dependency. We began by producing a large bag which contained all kinds of household objects, trainer shoes, hair gel, inner tubes, spoons, and so on, and asked them what all these things have in common. They didn’t get it, the answer being, of course, that they are all made of oil. I then asked them what is the hardest work they have ever done in a single day. Answers ranged from “last Friday, we had English”, to “well, my Mum made me wash up last week”.

I produced a litre bottle of oil, and made the point that a couple of tablespoons of it contained more energy than they could exert in a day, and that their current lives required the equivalent of 50 people in the back garden pedalling frantically on bikes day and night. We then split them into 5 groups and they each went to a table which had a different exercise. Every 15 minutes they moved round to the next table.

**1. The Journey.**

This session was about where does oil come from and what does peak oil mean in practice? What kind of state is the supply we depend on supply in? We had a computer online, logged onto David Strahan’s Oil Depletion Map and gave them a sheet called Depletion map exercise which asked them 6 questions they could only find out the answers to by roving around the map. This gave a good background and got them thinking about what peak oil means and in particular how vulnerable the UK is becoming.

**2. War and Oil.**

ttlWe divided the group into two teams, and invited them debate the question, “the war in Iraq was caused by oil?

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Andrew Dean
18 May 12:25pm

This is so important to do! This programme should be widely taught in schools [and for adults]. I would be interested in getting more information, to submit it to my children’s school for inclusion in the late-primary and secondary global learning syllabus. Thankyou for what you are doing – it is inspiring.

Stephen Watson
18 May 10:11pm

Such an excellent, simple and powerful idea. I’d be interested to know what answers and questions they came up with.

Ben Brangwyn
19 May 11:36am


I just love that question for the kids to get them delving into Strahan’s oil depletion map:

“If you wanted to invade a country for its oil, who would you choose, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq or Syria, and why?”

Wonder why you didn’t include Canada in that list ;¬)

Incidentally, when I woz a lad, schools prepared you for a life of boredom and obedience. Bloody kids nowadays don’t know how lucky they are!