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June 1997 - Issue No. #27 (p.17)

World Stamps and Global Issues

by Tomomi Ohba

Teachers College Columbia University MA Program, Tokyo

In the high school textbook I teach (Unicorn), there is a lesson about the rare "one cent magenta" stamp found by a small boy in 1873 and sold in 1980 for $850,000. To add a global dimension to the lesson, I designed a supplementary activity on world stamps and global issues, using an excellent Japanese book about world stamps entitled "Kitte wa kataru" (Stamps Talk!) that I managed to find at the local library.

After reading the textbook story, I asked students questions such as "Do you like stamps?", "Do you have any stamps at home?", "What kind of pictures do stamps show?" I then gave out two handouts (the stamps below and a world map showing the names of all the countries) and assigned students the following two tasks:


  1. Form groups of three, find out which countries the stamps below come from and locate the countries on the world map handout.

  2. Arrange the nine stamps into three different groups according to the theme which they have in common.

Although students had some difficulty locating countries on the map, they could all arrange the stamps according to the three themes: saving energy, endangered animals, war and peace. As a follow-up, students can draw a stamp of their own design that deals with a global issue. There are even stamp design contests held by newspapers and the Ministry of Posts that students can submit their designs to. The teacher can also encourage students to bring to class used stamps, telephone cards and postcards to raise funds for charity.

Kitte wa Kataru (Stamps Talk!) by Hiroshi Ohtani (1985) Ushio Press: Tokyo. ISBN 4-267-01025-0

WORLD STAMP ANSWERS (Stamp No., Country ---Theme)
1. Bangladesh --- Endangered animals
6. Mauritius --- Endangered animals
9. Netherlands --- Endangered animals
2. Spain --- Saving energy
4. Greece --- Saving energy
7. Japan --- Saving energy
3. Germany --- War and Peace
5. Rwanda --- War and Peace
8. Russia --- War and Peace


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Kip A. Cates, Tottori University, Koyama, Tottori City, JAPAN 680-8551
E-mail: Work Tel/Fax: 0857-31-5650