Understanding the Great Recession, the political and governmental responses both at home and globally, is essential for our students to grasp the urgency and potency of each and every election. Here is a mantra I repeat to my students: "You may not like government, but you are paying for it whether or not you want to. Choose to not be involved, I will happily vote on how to spend your hard earned cash." Unfortunately, many of them don’t recognize the reverse psychology.
In order to reverse that trend, I have to guide kids towards comprehending the Great Recession. Kids get riots, protests, and demonstration. They understand insurrection and insurgents. More nebulous is how industry is supported by the actions of the Federal government to promote a healthy economy. The best way to do promote vigorous growth is to deregulate industry and step away. Regulation is a short-lived fad, and only window dressing. Democracy, in the most recent historical example, failed. The citizens of many states succumbed to temptation, naivety, jealousy, and ignorance, or entitlement and opened the door to corruption. It is hard to keep the public vigilant against corporate corruption, and easier to get swept up in more exciting and banal things like fashion, sports, and gossip.
Michael Lewis's Boomerang is pushing four years since publication. Yet, present day headlines still resound with the trials and tribulations of 2007-2008.We must go back to recent history in order to understand why the stock market of October 2014 is so chaotic, why Germany's economy is stalling, why austerity feels different than to that which we are accustomed, and why economic powerhouses falter.
Lewis is challenging. This unit requires a lot of scaffolding. Students will be exposed to economic concepts and vocabulary that they may never fully grasp. But, Lewis is able to tell a story of how 2008 happened in a way that is largely accessible to student. It is a cautionary tale of governments who leave industry to itself, wait too long to fix the problems, and then go through massive economic, social, and political upheavals that rip apart states and cause civilians to end their own lives.
This is no dystopian novel. This is greed in the hearts of men. These are the robber barons unleashed upon the world, spending the future earnings of the very students before you.
Kat and I worked diligently to plan this unit, vet it, and to pare it down so that it can work in an Honors Government, AP Econ, or other similar course.
We know that many will improvise, condense, or expand the unit according to their student’s needs. If you have questions or comments, feel free to contact us.
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