Teaching Activities (Free)

“Taylorizing” Burgers: A Fantasy

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 8 pages.
In this playful activity, students utilize the principles of “scientific management” to restructure a burger joint—one that has been run a good deal more democratically and imaginatively.
Themes: Economics, Labor, Social Class

TaylorizingBurgers_mcdonaldsworkerSince working in a fast-food restaurant is a common high school job, and since few students have not frequented a fast-food restaurant, students here reflect on “scientific management” with respect to an institution they are familiar with. This activity concludes by drawing on the three previous lessons included in Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond’s labor history curriculum, The Power in Our Hands Paper Airplane Simulation and Free to Think, Talk, Listen, or Sing, which explored reasons for the changes in workplaces, and Modern Times, which explored the impact of these changes — for a look at the present. It’s important that students recognize that work could be organized differently than it presently is. That realization is a key aspect of not simply accepting our surroundings as natural or inevitable. The knowledge that things could be different is as crucial for understanding history as it is for feeling capable of taking meaningful action.

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”

Unit III: Defeats, Victories, Challenges

Unit IV: Our Own Recent Past

Unit V: Continuing Struggle


Order the book online from Rethinking Schools.