In this frequently used lesson, the teacher creates a three-tier society—owners, workers, and unemployed— and, as the owner, seeks to profit through playing on and creating divisions between workers and the unemployed. Can students overcome those divisions and unite for needed changes? This lesson lets students experience some of the pressures that lead workers to organize. Depending on what happens in class, students either glimpse the possibility of organizing and practice overcoming cynicism, or gain an experience out of which their attitudes can be directly discussed.
This can be used as the first lesson in a curriculum on labor history. It is fun—at times exciting. And, it suggests a basic skill in social analysis: learning to identify the differing, even opposing, interests of groups within society.
The Power In Our Hands—Available for Download
This is one of the 16 lessons available from The Power In Our Hands. Other lessons available for individual download are:
Unit I: Basic Understandings
Unit II: Changes in the Workplace/”Scientific Management”
- Paper Airplane Simulation
- Free to Think, Talk, Listen, or Sing
- Modern Times
- “Taylorizing” Burgers: A Fantasy
Unit III: Defeats, Victories, Challenges
Unit IV: Our Own Recent Past
- It’s a Mystery—White Workers Against Black Workers
- Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union: Black and White Unite?
- 1934 West Coast Longshore Strike
- Union Maids
Unit V: Continuing Struggle
Order the book online from Rethinking Schools.