September, 2013

Economic Empowerment

Needs and Wants:

In order to understand why the study of economics is important, students evaluated their own beliefs of "needs" and "wants". In groups, students separated 40 items into two categories: needs and wants. As a class, we discussed our different opinions and came to a consensus - air, water, food, shelter and clothing were the top 5 needs.

First Nations Production and Distribution:

In the past, First Nations communities used their hands to make everything. Even the tools they used first had to be hand-made.
Students used origami designs to represent food, clothing and shelter to understand how difficult it can be to make things by hand. They also learned how much time is devoted to making a quality product. Students then had to trade with each other to ensure that they had enough food, shelter and clothing to survive.

Economic Sectors:

This website provides a great summary of Canada's economic history: Educators for Peace and Justice

Socialism vs. Capitalism:

Students completed an activity where companies (groups of 5-6) were assigned a start-up budget of different amounts. In round one, each company was asked to design and create a product advertisment that would eventually earn money. However, the companies had to purchase all of their supplies (pencil $5, marker $50 per colour) using their start-up budget. Students quickly learned that having more money was adventageous but that companies with less money seemed to have a higher motivation.

In round two, companies were assigned monetary values for their advertisements ($10-$50) based on their quality. Each company re-calculated their budget and created a new advertisement. Discussion followed where capitalism was evident as the various budgets were not fair.

In round three, the two companies with the least amount of money were awarded government grants of $200 each. The two companies with the largest budget were charged a tax of 50%. Students learned that socialism equalizes opportunities.


As economic disempowerment is also an important issue, students developed their own definitions of "poverty". Before discussing the topic, students were asked to write down what they thought of or pictured when hearing the term "poverty". We then watched a short video from and discussed what the message they were trying to portray to the audience was.

We focused on the economic side of poverty and explored three situations where expenses remained the same, however incomes varried. At the end of class, students received post-it notes and developed definitions in a small groups. The notes were posted on the board for students to read and comment on.

Below is the presentation: