Paper Airplane Simulation

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 4 pages.
In this simulation, students make paper airplanes to learn about the origins and effects of “scientific management”—owners’ attempt to capture workers’ skills and knowledge, and then to exploit that knowledge to reorganize work and cut costs by deskilling workers.

  • Themes: Economics, Labor | Reading Levels: Grades 6-8, High School | Resource Types: Teaching Activities (Free)

PaperAirplane_lineofpeopleWith the help of paper airplanes and chocolate, this lesson shows students a key aspect of the changes occurring at the workplace around the turn of the century: the attempted capture of workers’ skill and knowledge by management. The changes in how workplaces were structured and work organized occurred at different paces in different industries and, in modified form, continue today. Systematizing and justifying the new management practices, Frederick Winslow Taylor contributed his name to our language. “Taylorism,” according to the dictionary, means “scientific management.” Students will gain a first-hand appreciation of the impact that “scientific management” had on the lives of working people and will acquire a theoretical understanding of the stages of Frederick Taylor’s scientific management.

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New York City students engaged in the “Paper Airplane Simulation” activity, Oct. 2015.

The Power In Our HandsAvailable for Download

This is one of the 16 lessons available from The Power In Our Hands. Other lessons available for individual download are:

Opening
Unit I: Basic Understandings
Unit II: Changes in the Workplace/”Scientific Management”
Unit III: Defeats, Victories, Challenges
Unit IV: Our Own Recent Past
Unit V: Continuing Struggle

 

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