National History Standards
Here are some of the ways the "How Much is Enough" website can be used to help teachers meet United States history curriculum standards.
The following standards are based on the National Standards for History, created by the National Center for History in the Schools.
"How Much is Enough" documents can be used to expand curriculum content. They fit particularly well into Era 6, Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900) and Era 7, The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930). Standards from these two eras emphasize teaching how the rise of corporations and industry transformed the American people, the impact of the post-1870 immigration on national development, and how Progressives and others addressed problems of industrial capitalism, urbanization, and political corruption. The documents here include an interview with a second generation Pole of the early twentieth century, a Hull House settlement questionnaire, and advertisements for newly available mass-produced goods, tenements photographs, detailed labor statistics, and meditations on how much families of the period needed to live.
"How Much is Enough" documents can be used to teach crucial historical thinking skills.
1. Chronological Thinking (Standard 1)
Included on this website a chronology related to the topic of consumerism, one that fits into studies of United States history, but which is not comprehensively covered in most United States history textbooks. Students can compare Father John A. Ryan's views of how a living wage changed over time for a sense of how the cost of living and ideas about consumption shifted in the early twentieth century.
2. Historical Comprehension (Standard 2)
The website contains primary documents illuminating a great variety of perspectives on the question of &How Much is Enough?& Sometimes this question is addressed directly, as in Father John Ryan's writings, and sometimes indirectly, as with the labor statistics and the advertisements. Students can examine the documents and attempt conclusions at how each relates to the "how much," question. Teachers can work with students to identify central questions revolving around each document, and how those questions were relevant in their particular context. The final exercise entails using historical data to calculate period budgets in ways individuals of the times would. In this way, the &How Much is Enough?& website can be used to generate real comprehension of varying perspectives on the question as they existed a century ago.
3. Historical Analysis and Comprehension (Standard 3)
Comparing of different sets of values and ideas are central to the historian's craft. Key historical ideas of the progressive era are represented here: an ethnic worker, a photo reflecting the expansion of poverty, a Catholic reformer, advertisements of the corporate sector and a pro-consumption advocate, and statistics representing the expansion of bureaucracy characteristic of the Progressive Era are on the website. Questions and introductions accompanying each document are intended to promote greater comprehension of each document, and to encourage deeper analysis of their historical meanings.
4. Historical Issues Analysis and Decision-making (Standard 5)
Having examined the varying perspectives represented in the documents students gain a sense of the diversity of points of view on the "how much?" question. As a final exercise in analysis, the student is asked to prepare an early twentieth century budget, then to evaluate the budget in light of the perspectives of historical actors whose writings are included on the website.