Friday, June 19, 2015

Survival of the Richest

This week begins the last month of our sophomore year of school. Once it hits June everything starts winding down, teachers are only briefly touching on the last few units to cram them in and the students are mentally preparing for summer. It's a weird time that has a strange balance between busy and laid-back. Our history class has just entered the final sluggish rush of education in true last month of school fashion. For our next few units we, the students, are sort of instructing our own lessons, a new focus each week. This first one, Carnegie and Rockefeller. We had a weekly plan to follow as we went, starting day one with going through the information and taking notes in a class google doc. Each group was given a focus Key People, Main Ideas, Important Events, and Essential Terms to take notes on as we watched videos and read documents as a class.

With this information we met the next day to create our very own Essential Question. After circling up and brainstorming together, with some suggested edits, we came up with the question "Essential Question: How did the actions of monopolistic leaders, such as Rockefeller and Carnegie, affect the common worker?" Monopolistic referred to the leaders of large economic monopolies, single corporations which completely dominated their industrial fields. We used the information from Rockefeller and Carnegie's biographies to understand who they were and what actions they had taken. The Homestead Strike video gave more information on the common workers and how they were impacted.

Rockefeller was widely disliked by the media, they believed he was motivated by greed and had power over a huge number of other companies, and in politics. He would lower and raise prices to buy out competitors to create his enormous monopoly and become one of the richest men in America. As the head of the corporation, Rockefeller was in charge of the treatment and pay of all his workers.
Carnegie was another powerful leader of a monopoly. However, he was not born with money he worked his way up through excelling at different jobs to get to where he got. He also messed with prices to buy out competitors.

Workers were often unhappy with pay or treatment and would organize strikes to protest their companies. Frequently the workers were replaced with "strike breakers" who were hired to make the strike ineffective. Or the company would just shut down until they agreed to work again. As Carnegie was not born rich and had to work like his own employees it was strange for him to mistreat workers when he used to be them. His own biggest strike, the Homestead Strike happened when he left someone else in charge and the police were needed to quell the violence. Both Carnegie and Rockefeller were known philanthropists, they donated large sums of money to build libraries and support the public.

Self-made success now she rose with Rockafellas

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