Reflection: ELL Students The Tragedy of the Commons part 1: Unregulated Fishing - Section 1: Introduction


As much as I would enjoy to lead students in a rigorous exploration of Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons, it's just too time consuming and potentially frustrating for students to justify in the real world constraints of an urban classroom.  

I would never argue that my students shouldn't be challenged or held to high standards because I think they continually thwart the mischaracterizations of urban students as somehow less capable of rigor than their suburban or private school counterparts.  Still, as a colleague recently pointed out when reading high-level academic text during a professional development seminar, it wouldn't take too long for an English Language Learner to get frustrated by the academic vocabulary and conclude, "this isn't for me."  

It ultimately depends on the goal of introducing the text... is it for students to grasp the main idea, or for something else?  In this case, I don't think the potential payoff justifies all the time it would take for English Learners to meaningfully approach such a complex text.  My goal here is to use the concepts in the article as a quick introduction to a unit that explores the concepts in more depth.  As you can see in the student artifact, this student has clearly understood from a short demonstration how economics and the environment can overlap and profoundly influence one another.  

In the end, as difficult as it may be for many readers, perhaps what makes Hardin's article such a classic is that it's central premise can be summarized so succinctly. 


  ELL Students: Why complex text isn't always the best choice
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The Tragedy of the Commons part 1: Unregulated Fishing

Unit 2: The Nature of Environmental Science
Lesson 2 of 17

Big Idea: Students learn about the environmental problems outlined in "the Tragedy of the Commons" by simulating economic competition between fishing companies in an unregulated ocean.

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