Resources I'm Using to Talk About Black Friday Violence

My lesson on Monday will ask students to think about the values of capitalism and democracy through the lens of looking at Black Friday and UC Davis violence.  I hope some of the resources will be helpful to others.

Do Now: What is the message that the creator of this image is trying to communicate?  What is your reaction to it? (4 minutes)

Ask students to turn to the person next to them and share what they wrote.  Then, ask for three volunteers to share what their partner had to say. (6 minutes)

Getting Started: Tell students we’re going to talk about the values shown by Americans who took certain actions over the past couple of weeks. As a class, construct a KWL chart for the term “Black Friday” (5 minutes)

Video Observation: Watch the following two video clips.  Your job is to only write what you see in the video without making any judgements or inferences.


Have students share some of their observations with the class (10 minutes)

Read: Read “Shootings, pepper-spray attack mar Wal-Mart Black Friday sales” (LA Times) (5 minutes)

Discussion: Have an all class discussion, where the goal is to come up with a list of values demonstrated by the actions of different people.  Suggested questions: (5 minutes)

  • What are the different groups of people who we saw take actions in the videos and news article? (peaceful shoppers, violent shoppers, employees) (List on the board)
  • What motivated each group to take the actions that they took?
  • What are the different groups of people who we didn’t see in the video or news article, but whose actions influenced those events? (store owners, marketers, politicians, etc) (List on the board)
  • What motivated these groups to take the actions that they took?
  • What are the values that caused these motivations? (List on the board)
Tell students we’re now going to watch a video from an Occupy Wall St. protest at UC Davis.
Video Observation: Watch the following video clip.  Your job is to only write what you see in the video without making any judgements or inferences. (Show first 4 minutes)
Discussion: Have an all class discussion, where the goal is to come up with a list of values demonstrated by the actions of different people.  Suggested questions: (5 minutes)

  • What are the different groups of people who we saw take actions in the videos and news article? (protesters, pepper spraying police, other police, onlookers) (List on the board)
  • What motivated each group to take the actions that they took?
  • What are the values that caused these motivations? (List on the board)
Reflective Writing:
  1. Look at the lists of groups and their values that we came up with: Which groups seem to have the most in common?  Which groups seem to have the least in common?
  2. Which group do you think best represents the values of democracy?  Justify your answer using evidence?
  3. Which group do you think best represents the values of capitalism?  Justify your answer using evidence?
  4. What do you think is the relationship between capitalism and democracy?
After students finish writing, use whatever time is remaining to discuss answers.  As this is an inquiry based class, the discussion should end with more questions than answers.
Follow Up Options:
  1. Have students read “The growing tension between capitalism and democracy” (Washington Post)
  2. Have students read or watch Slavoj Zizek’s speech at Occupy Wall St.
  3. Use the Right Question Institute’s Question Formulation Technique to move further with deeper inquiry into the issues raised by this lesson.

My Context: The big goals of my current unit are to help students understand the consequences of government decisions, and the role of compromise in making those decisions.  We just finished a wonderful simulation from the Buck Institute where students had to cut $1 billion from the federal budget.  This week we will look at federalism and the structure of government, with a focus on figuring out where different types of government decisions are made and who gets to make them.  Next week, we will look at the role of money in elections.  We will then do the Buck Institute’s On the Campaign Trail simulation. Our Essential Questions for the unit are:

  1. Is the United States really a democracy?
  2. How do the city, state, and country actually work?  Could they work better?
  3. Does my vote count?
This lesson will encourage students to start thinking about the relationship between money and power in our society.
(Thanks to Brian Ford, Ira Socol, & Mike Gwatney for pointing me to some of the resources used in this lesson)
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