Title: Capitalism and Communism: What's the difference?
Grade Level: 7-12
Subject/CA Standards: Social Studies 8.4.3, 10th/11th Cold War Units, Economics
Overview: Many of the recent social movements and revolutions in Central America have had communist/socialist overtones. In this lesson, students will learn the differences between the two ideologies and how they play out in modern societies.
Purpose: To explore the differences between communism and capitalism through a simulation exercise and make comparisons with the Zapatista way of life in southern Mexico.
- Students will understand Karl Marx's philosophy of communism through participation in a simulation.
- Students will compare communism and capitalism in current societies.
- Students will be able to recognize the significance of both philosophies in their study of Central American history and current issues.
- Enough Starburst candy for each student to have three pieces.
- Questions and Notes.
- Reading on Zapatista Communities.
- Adapted from the Teacher's Curriculum Institute at www.historyalive.com.
Activities and Procedures:
- Give each student a number of Starburst (between 1 and 5). Each student should write down how many they receive.
- Students then are told that they will be playing Rock Scissors Paper with each other. There are three rules to the game:
- Do not eat the candy until told to do so.
- If you lose, you must give up a piece of candy - when you are out of candy you must sit down and answer the questions.
- As long as you have candy, you must play the game.
- Students play the game until most are out and only several remain playing.
- After discussing the questions, ask students “What could I do to make this more fair?”. Students inevitably answer that they should all receive the same amount - redistribute candy equally.
- Notes on Rock Scissors Paper and Communism.
- Read and discuss Zapatista Communities. Connect with analogies from the game.
Tying It Together:
- Have students research and present two examples of communist revolutions or countries: Sandinistas in Nicaragua, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Vietnam, any former Soviet Bloc countries, etc.
- Think about what the reasons, methods and outcomes were in each system that they research. Compare positive and negative examples with that of the Zapatista model.