Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Teaching Economics As If People Mattered

Defining Economics

Defining Economics How do you define economics? What's it all about? How does the economy relate to our lives and what's the difference between democracy as a political system and capitalism as an economic system?

The Ten Chairs The Ten Chairs Musical chairs in High School? Absolutely! Students act out the distribution of wealth in the United States. What is wealth and who owns how much of it? What are assets and debts? What changes have families seen in their economic condition between 1976 and today?
Saving Accounts and Stocks

Saving Accounts & Stocks How do savings accounts function? What is interest? How do stocks function? What are dividends?

Born on Third Base Born on Third Base How do Americans acquire their fortunes? Is there really a level playing field or do some people start on third base? What impact does your level of wealth have on the types of assets you can acquire?
Signs of the Times Signs of the Times What are the signs we are told to look for to gauge economic success? Does a rising GDP or GNP mean prosperity for all? What would a pro-family economic agenda look like?

UFE is a national organization which raises awareness that concentrated wealth and power undermine the economy, corrupt democracy, deepen the racial divide, and tear communities apart. We support and help build social movements for greater equality.
Reach And Teach creates and distributes social justice themed learning products focused on civil rights, economic justice, global issues, and non-violence.
Ms. Giecek is currently an Organizational Specialist for the Virginia Education Association. A long-time social studies teacher, she authored the original curriculum and is an advisor on the development of these revised lesson plans.

Logos for United for a Fair Economy, Reach and Teach, and Tamara Sober Giecek
United for a Fair Economy’s (UFE) economic education curricula and workshops are dynamic resources for high school and adult continuing education teachers, and college faculty. They can be easily incorporated into existing school curricula and offer a balance to traditional economics courses. These lesson plans emphasize a popular education learning environment that draws on the experience of learners, poses problems that encourage dialogue and reflection, and stimulates action.

YES! recommends this passionate organization for its willingness to provide people—not just teachers and students—with current, relevant, and accessible information. As one workshop attendee said, “Through user-friendly charts, graphs, and games, they're able to present the hard reality of our current economic situation without making you feel beaten down.” The last thing we want to do is overwhelm our young people even more than they already feel. We applaud UFE for its focus on solutions.


:: Bankers, Brokers, Bubbles, and Bailouts
:: Teaching Economics As If People Mattered
:: The Growing Divide: 10 Chairs Lesson And More

credit crisis graphic by Lilli Day, istock
Bankers, Brokers, Bubbles, and Bailouts


Here’s a resource that helps demystify the current economic crisis and gives concrete strategies for narrowing the economic divide. Bankers, Brokers, Bubbles, and Bailouts—commonly referred to as the ‘4 Bs’—begins with getting a grasp on the policies and practices that ushered in today’s financial downturn. Events and decisions leading to the housing bubble and its collapse are identified and analyzed. The impact of the crisis on jobs and families are deeply understood through thoughtful inquiry. Finally, strategies for rebuilding an economy that is more equitable for everyone are explored.

Activities include:

  • Signs of the Times
  • The Roots of the Economic Crisis
  • Bankers and Brokers: The Rise of the Casino Economy
  • Bubbles and Bailouts: The Housing Market
  • The Consequences of Market Fundamentalism

To download the free workshop, you will need to log in. Log in is free, and please be assured that your email will not be shared.

Please note that YES! Magazine does its best to provide educators with easily accessible teaching tools. Email log in is becoming more common practice. We will recommend you register to log in only when we believe the materials are worth your time and effort.

YES Archive buttonWhy This Crisis May Be Our Best Chance

Wall Street is bankrupt. Instead of trying to save it, we can build a new economy that puts money and business in the service of people and the planet—not the other way around.
YES! Magazine #50, The New Economy

Teaching Economics As If People Mattered book cover
Teaching Economics As If People Mattered


Enhanced versions of five lessons from UFE’s teachers’ guide, Teaching Economics As If People Mattered are available online from Reach and Teach at Animated presentations, easy-to-read charts, games, and role-playing help students not only understand basic economics but also engages them in reflection about the growing divide of wealth that is at its widest since the Great Depression.

The five hour-long lessons are:

  1. The Ten Chairs
  2. Signs of the Times
  3. Savings Accounts and Stocks
  4. Born on Third Base
  5. Defining Economics

Each thoughtfully packaged lesson includes: identified concepts and national standards, downloadable charts, an animated presentation, a list of things to do to prepare for teaching the lesson, and a menu of additional articles and other web resources. For the most up-to-date data, we suggest visiting the UFE web site.

Reach and Teach and UFE hope to make available an online version of the entire Teaching Economics curriculum (21 stand-alone lesson plans). The entire curriculum is currently available in book form through UFE. Click here to purchase the book.

YES Archive buttonFinancing Hope

These credit unions invest in their members and stand by them, even in hard times. And the members, in turn, stand by their communities.
YES! Magazine #40, Go Local

YES Archive buttonYoung, Wealthy, Committed

These 70 rich kids have gathered to talk about wealth, but the conversations aren't about BMWs or shopping sprees. Instead, the young people gathered at the Making Money Make Change conference discuss how to take responsibility for the money that has been entrusted to them.
YES! Magazine #24, What Would Democracy Look Like

YES Archive button10 Ways to A Human Scale Economy

The YES! perspective on 10 great innovations that prove change is not only possible, but underway. Tired of feeling powerless? See how to bring your economy home.
YES! Magazine #40, Go Local!

The Growing Divide


Closing today's growing economic divide is UFE's main objective. It seeks to do this through education and action. “The Growing Divide–The Roots of Economic Insecurity” workshop offers a menu of tools for self-study or teaching others about current economics and what we can do to address the disparity of wealth in this country.

Fact sheets, a glossary of economic terms, exercises, videos, articles, briefing papers, and a host of workshops are available at your fingertips. With these resources you’ll be equipped to hold an intelligent conversation or build a movement.

YES Archive buttonPeople Power Pushed the New Deal

Roosevelt didn’t come up with all those progressive programs on his own.
YES! Magazine #50, The New Economy

YES Archive buttonAge-Old Wisdom for the New Economy

Rebecca Adamson offers Native American views on scarcity, Wall Street, and how to thrive in hard times.
YES! Magazine #50, The New Economy

YES Archive buttonHow the Middle Class Got Stuck

Surging prices, stagnant wages, spiralling debt. This is what stuck feels like.
YES! Magazine #47, Purple America

Logo of United for a Fair Economy
United for a Fair Economy (UFE) believes that the uneven distribution of wealth and power undermines the values of our country. The national nonprofit aspires to build communities that are socially and environmentally sustainable, where children are cherished and nurtured, and cultural and racial differences among people are valued and celebrated. Through participatory education, UFE supports and helps build social movements to establish an economy that works for all.