At the start of the project, the boys voted on whether or not they thought the minimum wage in our country was enough to live on. If it allowed people to live with dignity and have their needs met. I didn't know whether the boys understood what that really meant. The line between homelessness, non workers, working poor and families "getting by" seemed a little fuzzy. The boys grappled with this question and simply took a guess.
At the time, the vote was split nearly 50/50. Yes: 11 No: 9.
Today, 8 classes later... Yes: 0 No: 22.
After running numbers on the local and national minimum wage, the boys decided to run the numbers on a place of their choice. In the approximately 20 places that the boys investigated, the total debt acrued was nearly $38,000 for a family of 4. And they realized that even with food stamps most families, nationally, would have to live off about $12 a day for food. That's about $3 a person. The numbers keep on crunching... stay tuned for more.
Aside from running numbers, we had some unbelievable conversations and comments in person and on edmodo.
Some of my favorite comments and conversations thus far:
Why can people sleep outside a store on black friday or for an apple product release but not just because they have nowhere else to go?
Taking the taco bell sauce home with you because you like it is a little different than taking the crackers from soup shop home with you because you need them for dinner.
I noticed the couple in 30 days on Minimum Wage got into fights over giving things to the kids.
I didn't realize how much money it is to go to an emergency room.
Living on minimum wage is hard and stressful.
The guy from Super Size me has only 5 days left, but a lot of people have to do this their whole life.
I used to think that people on minimum wage could live a good life, buy houses, etc... now I think people on minimum wage struggle to make ends meet.
In the words of Tom Petty, " It's time to move on, time to get going. What lies ahead I have no way of knowing".
The project itself has taken a lot longer than I thought to get where we are today. But I recognize that any time you run a PBL for the first time their is a chance of that. I know that the boys are still intrigued by the concept and I can't wait to hear what they hope to do next. I am leaning towards investigating local charities, using change.org to get a Town School for Boys awareness petition in place, and thinking about a new years service learning project. But it's their project, their choice... I am just coaching them to see a side of something they might not see otherwise.
Follow me @gogogggin I might just give my twitter account to a 5th grader to voice his thought next week for a day or two:)