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Roaring Twenties

Subject:History

Topic:America, Literature, 20th Century, Racism, Industry, Media, Community

Audience:KS4/KS5

Question:Were the ‘Roaring Twenties’ a good time to be alive in America?

Author:Elizabeth Doyle

This resource is intended to help students engage with the various experiences of Americans who lived during the period known as ‘The Roaring Twenties’. It is hoped that they will discover that while there was prosperity and increased opportunity for some, others missed out on some of the new opportunities. In addition, to learn that while some women experienced changes, others belonged to communities that resisted innovation, and that racial discrimination continued to be an issue.

In America, the 1920s was a time of social change and upheaval. It is important that students who are studying American History have an overview of the more significant aspects of the changes, and their effects. This mystery is intended to help students achieve such an overview, and link this to their understanding of related topics such as race, industrial relations, family life and the role of women in Twentieth Century America. Because the subject of mass media and communication is a major feature of the period, more able students may be able to trace the influence of technology and the accessibility to information, opportunity and ideas during this century. There may also be opportunities for cross-curricular discussion relating to Media Studies or the Media elements in English Language.

It could also provide a good background for those studying ‘The Great Gatsby”, as it gives key historical context for an exploration of the novel.

There are three difficulty levels to this mystery. On Easy, there are 18 slips, Medium, 24, and Hard, 28. The Grouping Stage introduction is also slightly different for each difficulty level - with the focus solely being on the most notable features in Easy, the impact of different innovations in Medium and the effects of the Roaring Twenties on various economies/experiences of different groups, in Hard.

Medium difficulty level: This set is intended to help students explore the ways that the ‘Roaring Twenties’ impacted on the different parts of America, women and Black Americans. There was a range of change and innovation at this time, and the effects of these varied across the country and in different social groups. Whether the innovations of the period were feared or embraced often depended upon the outlook and perspective of the people concerned, so there is a discussion to be had as to whether the 1920s were a positive or a negative decade for the USA.

Hard difficulty level: The more able students may be able to identify the long-term impact of the 1920s, and the legacy that was created, for example, by the emergence and popularity of mass consumerism and the dissemination of Black culture. There is also a literary legacy, epitomised by the life and work of F. Scott Fitzgerald, which is best understood when studied in the context of this remarkable period in American history.

Some suggested goals for this task, depending on ability or level of knowledge may be to:

- discover the differences in opportunities for many people in 'The Roaring Twenties'
- develop an understanding/overview of the changes during this period and their effects
- link the changes to their understanding of related topics, e.g. race, industrial relations, family, women

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