The Story of Stuff

How many different lesson plans can you get from this video? How about from this video with the add-ons?

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You can see a higher quality version at Will Brehm’s “Story of Stuff” website.

The site offers a lot. E-mail updates on issues, cheap DVDs of the movie ($10.00 each for the first 10, $9.00 each for the next 10 . . . you may want to get a copy for each social studies classroom), background stories to the movie, story of Annie Leonard, background sheets, lists of organizations working on the issues and reading lists and more. I found no lesson plans, but you can surely cobble one together for an hour class, with 20 minutes taken up by the film. Plus you can download the movie, for free.

Go noodle around the site: There are lots of possibilities for student projects, student discussions, in-class exercises, homework, and fun.

This movie details, quickly and with good humor, the economics of recycling, the economics of waste disposal, and the economics of production. This provides a great gateway to talk about civics and government, and how to make things happen like garbage collection and recycling; a gateway to talk about economics, especially the various flows of money and goods; a gateway to talk about geography and how we have used our land and rivers to bury and carry waste; and how we use natural resources generally.

This would also be a good video for Boy Scout merit badge classes for the Citizenship in the Community and Citizenship in the Nation badges.

Contrasted with most of the industrial grade video I’ve seen for economics classes, this is fantastic. It’s better than any of the sometimes ambitious, but ultimately dull productions from the Federal Reserve Banks (are you listening, Richard Fisher? Hire Will Brehm’s group). (No offense, Osgood — yours is the best of that lot.)

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., probably has political objections to the movie, claiming it leans left, which indicates it’s in the mainstream. If you’re using any other supplemental material in your classes, this just balances it out.

Screen capture from the film, “Story of Stuff”

3 Responses to The Story of Stuff

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Is this material still current for your classes, teachers?


  2. […] of Cap and Trade – yes? no? From the same woman who gave us the brilliant “The Story of Stuff” a while back, a new film that says cap-and-trade policies are destructing and not to be trusted. […]


  3. trillium says:

    This vid was excellent, Ed. We are considering ordering a copy to show at our library movie showings, with discussion afterwards, Only cost is ten USD for a small quanitity (the price goes down the more you order). Thanks for the hot tip


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