A Lesson in Fair Trade

by Laura Gurley on December 1, 2011

What is fair trade? Why should your students understand it or be encouraged to practice it? I was asking myself the same questions until just recently.

The following lesson plan is designed for middle and high school students. Whether you are teaching economics, history, geography, a citizenship class or even homeroom, it would be a great one-day focus around the holidays, as students themselves are practicing their own purchasing power during one of the most commercial seasons of the year.

“Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to producers as well as higher social and environmental standards. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries.” – wikipedia

Videos to Learn From

First, explain the idea of fair trade by showing them one, or several, of the following videos {Subscribers will need to click through to Inspired Teacher to view}:

The Story of Stuff. {The video is too large to embed here, so you must click through to see it.} This is an excellent 20-minute video full of facts about pollution, global economies, sustainable living, and consuming responsibly. It would be best understood by high school students. For more on this organization, you can check out their site, StoryofStuff.org.

Outside Assignment

Have students compare one item they find that is fair trade with a similar item that is not marked as fair trade. Compare the prices and quality. Have them ask their parents if they would buy the more expensive fair trade item and why or why not. Return to class to share the experiences they gained in the real world.

Questions for Discussion

* Explain the importance of fair trade ? Would you buy fair trade, even if it was more expensive? Why?

* What difference can one person’s spending habits really make?  Does our answer to this question affect our actions?

* Do we, as the buyers, have a responisibility to know where our products come from and how they are made?

* Name one thing you want for Christmas. If that particular item  were made in a sweat shop by children who were forced into labor to make it, would you still want it for Christmas? Why/why not?

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Related Posts. One Small Spark. 7th Graders and CompassionKindness and a Water Bucket.

 -Laura is a former middle school teacher and home educator. She blogs at aLifeOverseas.com .

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