High school students are getting to know history first hand, as classrooms take students back in time to experience the 1920s and 1930s.
It isn’t enough for students at Moriarty High School to ready about the Great Dust Bowl conditions in “Of Mice and Men”. The world of the Great Depression was different from today, so English teachers converted several classrooms into an experience of the time period. Teachers thought that having students experience the good times prior to the Depression and the hard times that followed would help them to better understand the classic John Steinbeck story of displaced migrant workers.
Teacher Michelle Grutzik set up her classroom with several stations to take students back in time to the 1920s. Students experienced a bank, a speakeasy, and stations for fashion, dance, and toy cars. The purpose was to show a time before the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929, when people had access to cars, credit, and times were good.
After leaving the 1920s, students stopped at a bank that took away all they had acquired at the previous stations. “It’s important for them to experience the good times, so when it’s taken away from them it’s more impactful,” Grutzik said.
In the next classroom, students stayed in shanty towns, tasted stale bread and powdered milk, and worked for basic necessities. Finally, they entered the classroom that showed the conditions of the Great Dust Bowl of 1934.