One area in which I struggle - more because it doesn't excite me than for any other reason - is economics. Don't get me wrong: I excelled in my economics class in college, and it seemed to be pretty simple to understand. I just don't jump up and down when the subject is presented.
That said, on one of our days at the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute (now postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 situation), we will spend a day thinking about the British economy - that is, the economy utilized in the colonies and even in pockets of the new states for a while. It should be a little more than just running numbers and trickling them up and down on a ledger.
We will begin our day with a visit to the Great Hopes Plantation, followed by some time at the Prentis Farm:
Experience the sights and sounds of rural America! Learn about the agricultural economy in eighteenth-century Virginia and explore the differences between a farm and a plantation.
Tobacco was the lifeblood of Virginia’s colonial economy. In this session, we’ll investigate how this 13-month crop was grown, processed, and transported.
The Global Economy
In the eighteenth century, trade goods—including raw materials from the colonies and finished goods from Great Britain— moved around the world, creating an interconnected global economy. Explore how this economic system of mercantilism contributed to the American Revolution.
Finally, in the midst of classroom time and collaboration with my fellow teachers at the institute, I get the chance to spend time with the carpenters and tradesmen at Colonial Williamsburg:
Trades Tour Experience
Explore how trade shops created and maintained connections within the community from the point of view of a local tradesperson at Colonial Williamsburg.
Keeping in mind that I will be watching these men and women with the intent of understanding their place in the economy of the colonies, so there is an added layer involved in my observation for the short time I stand as their audience.
I have some mildly rural experience, having lived on an acreage and having a couple head of cattle. I can even apply the hard labor of managing a fish farm and helping maintain a petting barn and buffalo herd, along with other native animals. The teacher institute, however, will transport me to an era where all of this was for survival and advancement.
The economy of the 21st century might also be in consideration as I apply the thoughts at the institute. How does the U.S. apply the things we have gleaned from history in our current foreign and domestic affairs? How does an individual, born into an established capitalist system, thrive in that economy? How does the citizen exist in a nation where socialism is constantly a topic of conversation in political campaigns? What happens when the system changes, either suddenly or over time?
Economy is a frightening topic at times because we are so dependent on our elected and appointed leaders. Perhaps I do not struggle as much with it as I try to avoid it, choosing rather not to dwell on the unsavoriness that it can bring to the table.