Students consider many factors affecting a person's quality of life by examining profiles of two young people. After creating a list of indicators of quality of life, students determine which of the formal measures of standard of living and quality of life best reflect their list of indicators.
See Judging Quality of Life (Modelling the Tools) for resources and suggestions on how to teach and assess the tools for helping students to identify key factors affecting quality of life.
A. Which person has a richer quality of life?
Introduce concept: Quality of life
Introduce the concept of quality of life by asking students two questions:
- Do you have a good life?
- What are the reasons for your assessment?
Encourage students to go beyond superficial indicators, e.g., lots of money, nice clothes, to consider other important factors:
- nutritious food to eat
- freedom to act on one's beliefs
- access to education
- family life
- sense of hope
- emotional security
- freedom to practice one's chosen religion/spirituality.
Prepare a class chart: Indicators of Quality of Life
Record students' indicators of quality of life on chart paper for later use.
Judge quality of life in youth profiles
Provide profiles of two youths who live in very different situationsperhaps one who has fewer of the material things in life but enjoys less tangible factors; e.g., sense of hope, emotional security. Instruct students to read their assigned stories and look for evidence in the text of indicators of quality of life; e.g., doesn't have his/her own room, sleeps on a mat. The purpose of looking at profiles of differing life paths is to stimulate students' thinking about the many factors that affect quality of life. See Judging Quality of Life (Modelling the Tools) for sample profiles.
You may wish to adapt the charts and strategies in Positive and Negative Factors (Support Material) to structure and assess students' comparisons of factors that contribute to or diminish each young person's quality of life.
Ask students to review the evidence in the profiles and consider which factors related to quality of life seem more important than others. Based on this discussion, invite students to decide which youth has the better quality of life and write a short justification focusing on the most important factors. It is hoped that profiling a young person who is less wealthy, but fulfilled in other ways, may help students see beyond material indicators. However, there should be no presumption as to the "right" answer.
Invite students to share their decisions and supporting evidence.
Option: Use books on quality of life
In place of youth profiles, you may prefer to use books as springboards to explore issues such as population, environment and consumption. David J. Smith's If the World Were a Village and Peter Menzel's Material World: A Global Family Portrait vividly portray the world and its people using statistics and images to raise awareness about key aspects of quality of life (see References).
Identify the most important indicators
After students share their decisions on which youth has a better quality of life, consider revising the class list of indicators of quality of life. Ask students to identify the 8 or 10 most important indicators. Place a star by them. To meet the diverse needs of learners consider reducing the number of indicators.
B. Which of the formal measures of quality of life best reflect your list of indicators of quality of life?
Compare formal measures of quality of life with student-developed indicators
Distribute to groups of students copies of several formal measures of quality of life:
- United Nations Human Development Index (HDI)
- per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
- Canada's Quality of Life Indicators Project
- Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI)
- Gross National Health.
Explain that students are to compare the indicators described in one of the formal measures with the class list of indicators of quality of life.
Help students compare the formal measures with their own indicators of quality of life. To illustrate the process, select one indicator from a formal measure and review the posted class list to find a similar indicator.
Form small groups and invite students to note similarities and differences in the two lists. For example, the class list may not mention physical development indicators or may have identified emotional health, whereas the formal measure may simply address physical health.
You may wish to adapt the charts and strategies in Comparing Differences (Support Material) to structure and assess this comparison.
Revise class chart: Indicators of Quality of Life
Arrange for each group to share its analysis of the match between the formal measure and the class list of indicators of quality of life. Direct students to determine which of the formal measures best reflect the class list of starred indicators of quality of life. Encourage students to revise the class list and to discuss the differing values embedded in these measures of quality of life.
Write a statement on quality of life and standard of living
As a concluding task, ask students to write a short paragraph describing the relationship between quality of life and standard of living.
Extension: Research quality of life
Ask students to use the Internet to research the standard of living in several more economically developed, less economically developed or transitional economic systems. Ask students to draw conclusions on how quality of life in these countries is affected by globalization. Country profiles are available from many Web sites, such as National Geographic, the C.I.A., UNICEF and the Nations Online Project (see References).
Lesson adapted from Caring for Young People's Rights (Richmond, BC: The Critical Thinking Consortium, 2004), pp. 1018.