December 2, 2011

Bud Not Buddy:

A Lesson About The History of our Country and
How Our Past Can Repeat Itself if We Are Not Careful

budAs the 7th Grade students finish up the book, Bud Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, I am amazed with the discoveries both the students and myself made about the state of the world in the 1930s and how the world is not so different in the present time.  We have discussed the economic difficulties of the 1930s but also explored other facets of life that are similar in both eras.  Here are just a few of our unique findings.

Economic Crisis
In 1929, on a day that was eventually called "Black Friday" (much different from the present time "Black Friday"), the stock market crashed.  Isn't it astonishing that this happened right before the brink of a major world war (World War II)?  While explaining the severity of the Stock Market Crash of 1929, a student spoke up and stated, " Mrs. Roberts, didn't that just happen a few years ago?"  This started quite the discussion about the economic status of the United States over the past 80 years.

Similar, but different in many ways, the stock market took another turn for the worst in 2008.  This crash is criticized by many and argued to start for many different reasons, so this is something that the students and myself that didn't really get into.  We did touch on the overall view of our world prior to both of the crashes.  We were amazed that the people of the United States were living such carefree lifestyles and with the turn of small events our people became fearful of our spending habits.  The students were left with the question of how could we change our nation to become more confident in our economic status.  I was amazed that we could have such a powerful political conversation and so many good ideas could arise from them.  May each of you who read this article be empowered to answer the same question.

Poverty Crisis
The students were also fascinated by concept of Hoovervilles.  They were very interested to learn that so many people were dealing with economic hardships that they were forced to abandon their homes and create cardboard homes with numerous other people.  These "cardboard jungles" expanded into small townships.  Although the idea of "Hoovervilles" is no longer present, that doesn't mean that poverty in the United States is gone.  Millions of people still struggle to live in our country and numerous others are still homeless.

Although this book had many serious issues addressed that were present in the 1930s, the 7th graders did a terrific job of relating it to their own lives and finding connections along the way.  Although I was skeptical to read this book due to the in-depth history of the book, I was so glad we read this book.  These students are much more knowledgeable of the past of the United States and how it may affect their future.

        -Beth Roberts