In the upper elementary grades, students will begin to take a deeper dive into the history of America and its government. The Great Depression left an impact on our country that needs to be learned and remembered as time goes on. Students will need to be able to explain how lives were affected all over America by the time of the Great Depression. The purpose of this paper is to explain what the Great Depression was, the social problems that occured, teaching methods that meet the characteristics of students that would be learning this information, and the pedagogical decisions behind the teaching methods. In 1929, after years of economic boost, the stock market came crashing down on what is known as Black Tuesday, October 29. This started a time of disparity and crisis country wide. “The Wall Street collapse of September-October 1929 and the Great Depression which followed it were among the most important events of the twentieth century,” (Rothbard & Johnson, 2000). While the economic effect of the Great Depression took over 11 years to lose effect, the emotional toll that people had to endeavor was not tolerable until the end of the 1980’s. Over the course of four years, the unemployment rate rose 21.7 % and then again another 1.8% the following year. “City revenues collapsed, schools and universities shut or went bankrupt, and malnutrition leapt to 20 percent,” (Rothbard & Johnson, 2000). Stefoff (2009) explains that there was vast amounts of food in the country, but since it would not create a profit to sell or ship, people were beginning to go hungry. While this time of desperation was beginning, the world began to look at America’s method of market as a failure, until the Soviet Union, who practiced an alternative to capitalism, crashed as well, according to Rothbard and Johnson (2000). In the scary overview of the Great Depression, there were many social problems that began to flare up all over the country. America was going through a tough time of realities, there were numerous social problems that ignited like bombs to families that, once, felt secure in their life. While the unemployment rate was rising, the suicide mortality rate rose as well. Granados and Roux (2009) express that, the rates rose the during the hardest recessionary years; these years were 1921, 1932, and 1938. “Mothers who sought jobs in the Depression presumably did so in order to supplement family income,” but this created a social change that went against the way family order was seen during the twentieth century (Granados & Roux, 2009). Since mother were spending time trying to work and make up for the cut paycheck their husbands were bringing home, the daughters of the family were put in charge of taking care of their household. At the beginning of the Depression, adults and children were in competition for jobs that barely paid, but demanded hard work (Stefoff, 2009). “In 1949, Congress amended the law, the Fair Labor Standards Act, to include other types of businesses, and also restricted working hours for children under sixteen to exclude school hours.”, (Stefoff, 2009). Since children could not work during school hours, they could maintain their education. As some families see as a tradition, the father is usually the breadwinner. Since fathers carry this large weight, many struggled with the burden of not being able to support their families (Tyack, Lowe, & Hansot, 1984). While families were struggling to maintain the standards and morals they grew up knowing, one positive impact the Great Depression gave us was a lower mortality rate. “Analysis of various indicators of population health shows that population health did not decline and indeed improved during the Great Depression of 1930–1933. During this period, mortality decreased for almost all ages, and gains of several years in life expectancy were observed for males, females, whites and nonwhites—with the latter group being the group that most benefited” (Granados & Roux, 2009). With so many different social challenges, there are many different views to teach children in today’s schooling. While teaching the different views, it is important to be aware of the way students will learn effectively based on their development. Since the Great Depression is such a time that includes an immense amount of information, teaching in-depth about the subject is something that would happen in the upper elementary grades. As students grow, their developmental characteristics can affect which teaching methods can be most productive. While the Georgia Standards of Excellence have different criteria for each grade, it is not until the fifth grade that the students look further into the details of the Great Depression. The standards also show that beginning in 3rd grade, the students are starting to learn terms and trends that create a foundation for a successful understanding of history. When teaching about the Great Depression usage of simulations may help students to understand what everyday life was like. Finding text from different points of view can also be a good source for students, that way they are learning how social classes were all affected differently. According to Wood (1997), students aged 8-11 are at an age of seeking peer confirmation. Since the students are wanting to have interaction with other students, group projects can be used to promote student led discussions. “Having students work with each other promotes a respectful learning environment, while also allowing the teacher to listen to their discussions” (NAEYC, 2009). There are many different activities that can be used to teach students about the Great Depression, but it is also important to make sure the activities align with where the students are developmentally. In order to understand where a child is developmentally, teachers should be knowledgeable about the rationale that many different theorist give. In the past, there have been theorist that have spent time studying how students learn and what stages they go through while growing up. According to the theorist, Jean Piaget, when students are age 7 to 11, they are starting to have a more logical thinking process. These students can understand the concrete events. It would be possible to have students look from multiple perspectives since they “begin to understand that their thoughts are unique to them and that not everyone else necessarily shares their thoughts, feelings, and opinions.”, (Cherry, 2017). While teaching about the Great Depression, it is important that the teacher places a critical role in the beginning to lay down the base information, but over the course of the lesson allowing the student to work together to reach deeper. “According to Vygotsky, this type of social interaction involving cooperative or collaborative dialogue promotes cognitive development.”, (McLeod, 2014). The importance in understanding the rationale for certain activities is making sure students will learn efficiently. In conclusion, upper elementary students will begin to look further in-depth at American history, particularly the Great Depression. After the students have learned the information, they will have a better understanding of the past and be able to explain what happened during the Great Depression. They will also be able to see how people from different classes were affected by the hardship. In this paper, I explained the content knowledge of what will be taught, the social problems that occured, and the developmental characteristics of the students that will be learning. Furthermore, I explained how the content could be taught with examples and rationale from theorist.

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