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  • Spring Break on the Farm

    John Johnson at the Georgia Agrirama recounts how important agriculture is to Georgia. At one time most Georgians lived on farms. In the early 1900s when compulsory school attendance was first required by law, families still needed children to help with the necessary farm work in the spring. School calendars were set to accommodate that need. Students and farmworkers demonstrate the challenges of farm life during turn of the century Georgia.

    Support Materials

    Discuss

    1. School calendars were originally set to accommodate the need of having children help on farms. Now that less than 2% of school children in Georgia live on farms, should spring break and summer break continue? Explain your answer.

    2. Explain how families in the early 1900s would acquire labor for their farms.

    3. How have jobs changed since the early 1900s, when child labor was being discussed?

    Expansion

    1. What responsibilities would a young person have today living on a farm? Dusty Dunn demonstrates some of them and students in the classroom may have first hand experience to share.

    2. Research the job or jobs that they would like to pursue. Have them find out what they will need to know and how much education is needed in order to qualify for the job or jobs they want.

    Vocabulary

    appended: added onto
    ability: Responsibility, particularly if something goes wrong. For example, under the child labor bill mills would be liable for any injuries children might suffer working under them. Proponents of the bill said that under then-current mill rules factories were not liable for such injuries.
    misdemeanor: Misdemeanors are crimes that are considered less serious than felonies. Felonies are generally premeditated and/or highly disruptive to those upon whom the crime is committed. Rape, murder and robbery are considered felonies. Hiring a child under the age of 10, under the proposed child labor bill, would have been considered a misdemeanor, more an oversight than a crime
    "moral prop": an argument that appeals to a listener's sense of morality, but is in fact based on flimsy evidence or propaganda
    pending: waiting to be concluded. A bill that is pending is one that is awaiting action by lawmakers
    proprietor: the owner of an establishment
    statute: a law

    For Teachers

    Discussion Guide

    1. School calendars were originally set to accommodate the need of having children help on farms. Now that less than 2% of school children in Georgia live on farms, should spring break and summer break continue? Explain your answer.
    Student answers will vary. Some students might argue that these breaks are necessary to explore work/internship or travel opportunities. Others may argue that year-round school is beneficial because students are more likely to retain information over the course of the school year. 

    2. Explain how families in the early 1900s would acquire labor for their farms.
    Parents often had several children who were used as free laborers on the farm.

    3. How have jobs changed since the early 1900s, when child labor was being discussed?
    Answers will vary. Possible responses run a wide gamut, from statements regarding the high-tech nature of today's entry-level job market (which suggests a need for more educational preparation) to the demand for more vocationally trained workers.

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