Although I usually can't stand educational jargon, we have truly had a 'teachable moment' in these past few months. With all of the focus on standardized curriculum and testing, we rarely have the opportunity to stop and ask our students what they want or need to know. There are times, however, when it is our duty to stop and do just that. I know that many adults have started to panic over the current economy, and I have to start to wonder, what are my students thinking? I know statistically that many of their parents have been recently laid off or have been talking about 'cutting back'. What does that mean to our students? Are they worried they might lose their homes? How can we, as their teachers, help alleviate some of these fears?
This is a terrible situation for adults and for kids, but for kids, it is complicated by a lack of experience and understanding. While we can't fix the economy for them, they can benefit by some understanding of what is going on, what the government, private companies and individuals are doing to fix it, as well as the understanding that this has happened before. A great resource that we can use is a weekly publication called the 'Good Sheet'. This fall, it started to appear at Starbucks locations and many back issues are available online. There is a great one called 'Its the Economy, Stupid!' from October that looks at 20th-21st century economic history. Its great for students, lots of graphics, not too complicated, and uses examples they can relate to- like charting the price of milk over 100 years.
dialogue in a safe environment can make the difference between being fearful and being informed and aware.