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Baby Boom and the Culture of the 1950's

Life Skills:

  • Thinking & Reasoning

Time Frame:
2 class periods that run 90 minutes each.

Group Size:
Large Groups


 

Summary:
Enduring Understandings:

  • Students will understand the ripple effect of the baby boom generation on history and on their lives today.
  • By sequencing events students will understand how the rules and conformity of the 1950's set the stage for the rebellious, anti-establishment sixties.
Use your own expertise and knowledge of the era to help students synthesize the changes from the fifties to the sixties, as a result of the economic, political and social transitions.

Main Curriculum Tie:
Social Studies - U. S. History II
Standard 7 Objective 4

Investigate the Post-War Baby Boom's influence on America.

Materials:
Handout - timeline for sequencing events
Possible Videos: I Love Lucy, Happy Days, Leave It to Beaver, The Century -

Peter Jennings
Textbook

Background For Teachers:
Excellent resource materials:

  • David Haberstam: The Fifties
  • America: A Narrative History by Tindall and Shi

Web Sites

Student Prior Knowledge:
Textbook information 1950-1960
Students interviews of people that were teens during this era.

Instructional Procedures:

  • Students will study the textbook on the 1950-1960 and place important events on time-line.
  • The Teacher will lecture and model the cause effect of events in the 1950's and their outcome in the 1960's.
  • Students will create a brochure or T-chart comparison of 1950-1960's.

The following topics can be covered to show the ripple effect of the baby boom generation.

  1. GI Bill
    1. Education
    2. Housing
    3. Small Business loans

  2. Redistribution of people
    1. White-flight - to the suburbs
    2. development of economical housing - Levittown
    3. Sunbelt and black migration north
    4. Fewer farmers---> Agribusiness
    5. Megalopolis
    6. Interstate freeways

  3. Families
    1. Dr. Spock
    2. Conformity
      - Following rules v. anti- establishment
      - Jobs: IBM - "Man in the Gray Flannel Suit"
    3. Economic needs - Appliances, autos "keeping up with the Jones"
    4. Religion - Billy Graham, Norman Vincent Peale
      - Fear of communism and godlessness
    5. Teenagers as a cultural group- spending power and rise to rock and roll music

  4. Roles of Middle Class Women
    1. Support husband and cater to family
    2. Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique
    3. Birth Control

  5. Television
    1. Television sets the standards and values for homes - movie attendance drops
    2. TV shows that portrayed the perfect family v. reality of "real" homes
      - Leave it to Beaver, American Bandstand, Mickey Mouse Club,
      - I Love Lucy, etc.
    3. Music
      - Rise of Rock and Roll (Afro-American rhythm and blues crossing over to the white teenager consumer)
      - American Bandstand
      - Elvis Presley and other music leaders

  6. Consumerism and Advertising
    1. Credit Cards - Diner's Club
      - Buying on Credit (Keeping up with the Jones)
    2. Franchise - Ray Kroc - McDonald's
      - The rise of nationwide business chains with standardization products and services (again conformity)
      - Eating out more often
    3. John Galbraith's The Affluent Society

  7. Youth Rebellion
    1. Beatniks - Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg
    2. "Rebel Without A Cause" and Catcher in the Rye - creates a youth culture
    3. Hippies - Middle Class White Teenagers actually live off the system they protested against

  8. Education and Technology
    1. Sputnik --> National Education Act
    2. RAND Corp. Think tanks, Calculators, transistors, air conditioning

Attachments

Assessment Plan:

  1. Have students turn in time-lines for a quick visual check of accuracy.
  2. Writing Assignment: Explain how the Baby Boom and its demands on society brought about the cultural and lifestyles changes from the 1950's to the 1960's.
  3. Have students put together a brochure or newsletter describing the 1950's as an era of conformity. Have students search the Internet for photographs and illustrations to include in their presentation.
  4. Have students work in small groups to present a slide presentation on the computer on one area of the 1950's.(For example, architecture, music, sports, TV, etc.)
  5. Have students interview their parents or grandparents on their experiences in High School. Have students work on survey questions as a class. Then use the interviews for class discussion about the era.

Author:
JILL BARRACLOUGH
JENNIFER KING
Carolee Cluny

Created Date :
Aug 05 2002 09:06 AM

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