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Factfulness: KS3 / Scheme of Work - a collaborative document

“An indispensable guide to thinking clearly about the world” - Bill Gates

Factfulness’ was published in the UK in hardback in April 2018.

It was written by Hans Rosling, in association with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund, of the Gapminder Foundation.

There are some existing teaching resources for Gapminder which are worth taking a look at, and which we will reference: https://www.gapminder.org/for-teachers/ 

There are 10 instincts which lead people to misinterpret the world, and these are explored and unpicked in the book, and therefore in the forthcoming scheme as well.

These could become ten sessions (which is more open in terms of timing than lessons) as part of a finished scheme, that users could pick from - there is no compulsion to complete all ten sessions.

These sessions will introduce the key misconceptions in the book, and also connect with some of the ideas in the GCSE Specifications of the main awarding bodies.

Elements of this could also form part of a GCSE course, covering some of the skills element, as well as topics such as Development.

Ola Rosling has made available all the slide decks from Hans’ talks here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B9jWD65HiLUnTTJNQ3Bna2w2blU - these could ‘become’ an important part of the main teaching resource, and save time producing further new slide decks. The slides can be used, with proper attribution, so there will also be some usage in new presentations.

Remember to attribute any CC licensed items from Gapminder / Dollar Street that you use in your work to model good practice for students.

Section and content

Teaching and Learning - key knowledge and skills - enquiry questions


Other notes on this session e.g. NC curriculum / GCSE spec links

  1. What is ‘Factfulness’?’

It may be worth launching this scheme with a whole school assembly / year group assembly so that the significance of this book is made clear to everyone. This might also facilitate some cross-curricular links with colleagues.

Thanks to Catherine Owen for sharing a resource (see folder)

Introduction to the idea of Factfulness: the book and the man who started it off: Hans Rosling

What is factfulness?

How factful are you?

Are you more intelligent than a chimpanzee?

You can take the Factfulness test here - students to do this now (and at the end of the unit) - start the unit with this test


Some thoughts on Factfulness are in this document here




You can take the Factfulness test here, at the start of the unit - http://formsb.gapminder.org/s3/test-2018 

May want to show Ola Rosling’s video from the Facebook group:


Need to put together a list of useful sites to obtain ‘facts’ / data which can be referred to, or which visualise data accurately. Also some sites which may not be so factual. By the end of the unit, students should be able to distinguish between them.


2. Mind the Gap - how should we best describe global development?

Introduce the binary method of defining development, and how this has moved to 3 levels with the new GCSEs

Introduce the 4 Income Levels that Hans proposes, which are referenced in other sections of the book, and the rationale that lies behind them,

Exploring how we describe countries: ACs, EDCs and LIDCs (GCSE terminology)

Channel 4: Hans Rosling interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vr6Q77lUHE 

Use the Mountain chart to explore this (can be embedded onto a VLE page) http://bit.ly/2rMxgPW


Need a copy of the Gapminder World map 2015 version

Gapminder Card Game: https://www.gapminder.org/downloads/card-game/ 

List of ACs, EDCs and LIDCs (GCSE terminology)


3. Where in the world are negatives turning into positives?

Following the test questions, students will explore some of the positive steps being taken in the world.

Pp.60-3 - 32 things which have improved. Half are bad things decreasing, half are good things increasing. Could become a Higher or Lower game, with arrows to hold up.

Development indicators and their relative value.

The Magic Washing Machine


SDGs may be mentioned here (MDGs in the GCSE specs) https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs 

4. When is a straight line not a straight line?

Exploring trends in data and the tendency to believe they will continue in a straight line (or even an upward curve)

Introduced using the story of Ebola: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02mrlx5

Exploring future population growth trends and family size

The inevitable fill-up effect is explained here. Can students produce their own explainer video for a related issue.

Use the Trends chart, which can be embedded onto a VLE page


Stories on population growth

Malthus & Boserup (an introduction to their thinking)

NYT article: https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-japan-doing-more-with-less-means-getting-a-robot-to-milk-your-cows-1525611603 

Fill-up effect, plus Vimeo film: https://www.gapminder.org/topics/population/fill-up/ 

Resource I produced previously on Malthus and Boserup (download or view here)

What do you think of the Population Matters critique of Hans’ ideas on future population growth here? https://www.populationmatters.org/population-factfuless/ 

5. What have we got to be afraid of? AKA Is the world becoming a more dangerous place to live?

This session will use various data sources to help students evaluate whether the world is a riskier place than it used to be.

On the one hand, on the other hand sheet

“To what extent…” - wording of questions to be used in exams higher up the school

Risky World - natural hazards - connection with ideas of Professor Spiegelhalter from Cambridge

‘Professor Risk’ YouTube clip from Cambridge Ideas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1PtQ67urG4

Introduces the idea of the micromort.


Nepal Earthquake 2015 as a focus (mentioned on p.107)

Aid: what type of aid is needed the most? https://medium.com/@karenmerzenich/stop-donating-goods-to-disaster-victims-what-they-need-is-money-c818bc394131 

Connect with the Session 1 activities in British Red Cross pack on Nepal Earthquake - downloadable from https://www.redcross.org.uk/get-involved/teaching-resources/natural-disasters-earthquakes 

These could form the basis for the resource on this chapter.

Ben Fogle currently attempting to climb Everest to raise money for British Red Cross work in Nepal - videos here: http://blogs.redcross.org.uk/international/2018/04/climbing-mt-everest-ben-fogle-victoria-pendleton/

6. Do we always appreciate the scale of a problem?


Where will the majority of the world’s people be living in 2050?

Big or small? How do we misunderstand the scale of some events?

Can scale be misused?

Trump and inauguration crowd image?

Population growth: what number are you?

Population distribution / birth and death rates

The changing pattern of global population, and the connection with migration.

Box by box: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTznEIZRkLg

Students to create their own infographic using small props in the same style.

World Population 2050 - CC licensed, and obtained from Worldmapper (see link in next column)

Population distribution and density https://worldmapper.org/maps/?_sft_product_cat=people

  • Check other relevant population maps too

7. Why might the world not be as divided as you think?


How divided is the world in reality?


Avoiding generalisations.

Generalisation or truth activity.

Producing an article for Dollar Street website in the style of some of the existing ones (see the right hand column for an example)


Ted Talk from Anna Rosling-Ronnlund - 17 minutes - transcript available: https://www.ted.com/talks/anna_rosling_ronnlund_see_how_the_rest_of_the_world_lives_organized_by_income?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=tedspread

Dollar Street is being used here. I produced a previous Google Doc on this previously: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Xt9AyZCaEbO8J3AIULyRrCW7u6JWxQR9dMD3pKvQxjc/edit 

Some resources needed to guide student in their use of the website. A 7 step tutorial document has been produced by Dollar Street: Tutorial document (also on Google Drive)


Guide for student use here:


Also useful Time article on the ideas behind Dollar Street:


Bill Gates is a big fan too: https://www.gatesnotes.com/Development/Exploring-Dollar-Street

How about students submitting pictures of their own to create a class version of Dollar Street. The guidance for photographers is included on the site:

There are some existing Dollar Street articles e.g. roofs https://www.gapminder.org/dollar-street/article/546ccf730f7ddf45c0179631 

8. How can we change the direction of an entire continent?

Should we always believe the numbers?

Start with a look at models of how countries change over time e.g. Rostow, DTM - these are contentious (Margaret Roberts)

Africa: a lost continent?

Slow change is not no change - it is still change.

Cape Town: Day Zero Water Crisis - using materials developed for ECOLINT conference https://www.slideshare.net/GeoBlogs/running-on-empty-v2 -and the news story https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/04/back-from-the-brink-how-cape-town-cracked-its-water-crisis 

Stories of success in Africa to show how it is changing for the better. Tackling some of the stereotypes.

Avoiding the reliance on numbers.

Connection with health indicators.

9. How can we stop playing the blame game?

‘Othering’ and the position of migrants, followed by

The role of technology in changing lives - Magic Washing Machine.

TED Talk on ‘The magic washing machine’: https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_and_the_magic_washing_machine 

Ai Wei Wei film: ‘Human Flow’ - now available on DVD

Also chapter in William Atkins book.

Looking for systems as a solution to the problem, rather than the cause of the problem.

10. Which global challenges are the most urgent?

Global Warming and the issue of urgency.

Five global risks we should worry about:

  1. Global Pandemic
  2. Financial Collapse
  3. World War III
  4. Climate Change
  5. Extreme poverty

Take small steps

Identify what some of those small steps might be (link to Sustainable Development Goals)

One focus for many is Ocean Plastics. We are told that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050

http://marinelitter.no/ - explore the issues using this site.

Global Warming resources are numerous, but need to be chosen so that they compliment the messages in Factfulness, particularly the more positive ones.

Perhaps refer to Gaia Vince’s book on the Anthropocene, which has some positives.

Add in session I am going to be leading at the SAGT Conference in October 2018

11. Using our Factfulness

(an optional ‘assessment’ or reflection task)

Final activity / assessment / reflection task

Rule of Thumb sheet:


You can take the Factfulness test again if required, to see the difference -


Another option would be for students to present a mini Ted-style talk of their own - banners and props could be created in TED style - here’s an example which was shared by Gapminder recently of an 8 year old boy


Results of test at the start, and retest, or compare with own country and how people did in the test.


Teaching Checklist

Need to refer to the checklist on p.248 of the book.

The resource (as it develops) needs to tackle these areas)

Rules of Thumb

Illustrations in the chapter endings and also listed on p.256

Available online here: https://www.scribd.com/document/378567098/Factfulness-Rules-of-Thumb 

P. 256 - could perhaps use these icons at stages in the resource, to show when a particular rule of thumb is being explored.


Set text: Factfulness - Rosling et al (Sceptre, 2018) - available from all good bookshops - support your local independent store.

Page references in this document are to the Hardback First edition with an orange cover

There is a full bibliography of facts in the Notes appendix starting on p.275

Also download them here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aO2VLdhPJ-XXD8mW1gzkGIK6eETFt_yD/view as a PDF if you prefer (added April 6th)

Please avoid breaking copyright and adding things here which don’t respect that. Gapminder materials are made available under Creative Commons license, but not for financial gain.


Gapminder World: https://www.gapminder.org/ 

Animated Gapminder Tools: https://www.gapminder.org/tools/

Dollar Street: https://www.gapminder.org/dollar-street/matrix 

You can take the Factfulness test here - plus some useful images


Another version here: https://samgis.se/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Gapminder-factfulness-and-projects.pdf 

Join the Gapminder Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/gapminder.org/

https://www.facebook.com/gapminder.org/videos/2008348509200097/ for video

There is also a group for the Gapminder

Gapminder World Poster 2015: available as a PDF download https://www.gapminder.org/downloads/updated-gapminder-world-poster-2015/

Worldmapper - cartograms fit nicely with Hans’ statistics and help show the patterns of some key indicators

New site launched 2018: http://www.worldmapper.org/ 

Google Public Data explorer: https://www.google.com/publicdata/directory - adapted the bubble visualisations developed by Gapminder for use with public data sets

Gates Notes: https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/Factfulness 

YouTube / TED Talks

Hans Rosling: https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_shows_the_best_stats_you_ve_ever_seen

TEDx Singapore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh94kK05l-M 

Let my dataset change your mindset: https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_at_state 

Anna’s Dollar Street: https://www.ted.com/talks/anna_rosling_ronnlund_see_how_the_rest_of_the_world_lives_organized_by_income?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=tedspread 

There is also a transcript available in various languages which has been saved to the folder (in English) for possible use as another resource.

Also discussion on TED Talk could be used to produce some opinions for students to consider, and also perspectives…


Google Stats: based on the tools that Gapminder created


Anna Rosling Ronnlund: https://twitter.com/AnnaGapminder 

Ola Rosling: https://twitter.com/OlaRosling

Gapminder Foundation: https://twitter.com/Gapminder 

Tim Harford, the economist, wrote an appreciation of Factfulness: http://timharford.com/2018/04/in-praise-of-factfulness/ 

Pinterest Board: Started in April 2018: request to be added as an editor to access and add further images: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/geoblogs/factfulness-scheme/ 

Noel Jenkins blog: http://www.digitalgeography.co.uk/archives/2007/01/gapminder-some-teaching-ideas/ 

BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week - currently unavailable to listen sadly, but will contact BBC and see if it can be made available https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09yshws/episodes/guide

Nature article: https://www.nature.com/news/three-minutes-with-hans-rosling-will-change-your-mind-about-the-world-1.21143


Relevant GCSE Geography Textbooks

Geographical Association KS3 Toolkit -’Mind the Gap’ https://www.geography.org.uk/Shop/Publication-series/KS3-toolkit/Geography-Teachers-Toolkit-Mind-The-Gap-How-is-development-changing-in-Southeast-Asia-and-beyond/9781843773740 - focus on S.E. Asia but can adapt for African context


LSE Public Lecture from April 2018 - Audio only - http://www.lse.ac.uk/website-archive/newsAndMedia/videoAndAudio/channels/publicLecturesAndEvents/player.aspx?id=4045


Globe and Mail (August 2018):


Additional reading and references for particular sessions

I wrote a resource for the GA a while ago, and there is some useful information here linked to the idea of inequality:


  1. Introduction to Factfulness


2. Mind the Gap - are we moving away from the binary?

7. Dollar Street: Tutorial document (also on Google Drive)


Photographers’ guide for taking part in Dollar Street: may be useful for development of activity



Marine Plastics: GRIDA http://marinelitter.no/

Gaia Vince: Anthropocene book https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=6pGrlepAp-c 

Document created: 8th May 2018

Last edited: 25th August 2018

Creator: Alan Parkinson


Anna Rosling-Ronnlund - thanks for your interest and support!

Catherine Owen

Grace Healy

Bob Lang

Please add your name if you read / edit / comment / contribute in some way and change the last edited date too - thanks :)