The following is an excerpt from the recommended standards for U.S. history in grades 5-12:
Students should be able to:
Demonstrate understanding of how American life changed during the Depression years by:
Explaining the effects of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl on American farmers, tenants, and sharecroppers. (Analyze multiple causation.)
Analyzing the impact of the Great Depression on industry and workers and explaining the response of local and state officials in combating the resulting economic and social crises. (Analyze multiple causation.)
Analyzing the impact of the Great Depression on the American family and gender roles. (Consider multiple perspectives.)
Explaining the impact of the Great Depression on African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and Native Americans. (Consider multiple perspectives.)
Explaining the cultural life of the Depression years in art, literature, and music and evaluating the government’s role in promoting artistic expression. (Draw upon visual, literary, and musical sources.)
Examples of student achievement of this standard include:
Describe how the drought of 1932 changed farming conditions in the Midwest. Draw upon documentary photographs, literature, and personal accounts to demonstrate how farm owners, tenant farmers, and sharecroppers were affected. Develop skits or stories depicting their problems.
Chart the effects of the Great Depression on African-Americans and Hispanics and construct a historical argument, debate, or narrative comparing their experiences with those of other Americans.
How did African-Americans and Hispanics react to the events of the Depression? Which of the various New Deal measures--such as the C.C.C. and the W.P.A.—most profoundly influenced their lives.
Assess the impact of mass media on the American culture in the 1930s.
What factors contributed to the nationalization of culture? What kinds of movies and radio shows were most popular and why? How did popular culture divide along class lines? How did popular sports and athletic heroes and heroines reflect the ideals and interests of people? How did regionalist artists such as Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood portray American life?
SOURCE: National Council for History Standards.
A version of this article appeared in the November 02, 1994 edition of Education Week as Lessons From the Past