The California Gold Rush:
This unit is an interdisciplinary study of the California gold rush. This unit will be team taught by teachers with specialties in the areas of mathematics, language arts, science, and social studies. Because some of the content in subjects like science and math is more advanced, the suggested grade level is 7th-8th. The unit is ten days in length, but more may be added for full coverage. This unit will help the students understand what life was like for those involved in the gold rush. Students will know who was involved in the rush, where the rush was, why it happened, and what happened because of the gold rush. Although this unit is founded in the social studies curriculum, other curricular areas will also support the study. Students will study features of the land where the gold was found in the science aspect. They will also study pathology, the spread of diseases in the gold rush towns, and debate possible solutions to stop the spread of disease. Math will be integrated in a study of interest/credit and trade as well as questioning the moral rightness of the gold rush. Language arts will be integrated through reading primary and secondary sources about the gold rush and creative writing assignments. Other subject areas may be included but we have not written any plans for these areas.
God has given us the freedom to discover and explore our wonderful creation. We will learn about God’s wonderful creation and how he had a perfect design for earth until sin ruined it. As students study the gold rush, they will look at it through the framework of creation, fall, and redemption. They will be challenged to integrate what they have learned from the past into Christ-like actions today. First, as students study the historical background and events of the gold rush they will ask the following questions: 1) Do the events of the gold rush portray a Biblical orientation toward the land, natural resources, labor, and human life? 2) What events or actions do they see in this day that compare to the gold rush?
In Luke 12:15, Jesus says, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his processions.” The students will learn that even after some people attain all they can, the only fulfilling part of life is God. This is very real for students and is something they can see in everyday life. Success in America is often driven by the quest for power and wealth, and the students need to be aware of this. Students will discuss ways that they can combat the desire to be greedy. They will also look at ways they can work to preserve and care for God’s creation. By looking at the gold rush from a creation, fall, redemption framework, the students will come to a better understanding of discipleship actions they should take regarding the environment and human life.
When the unit is complete, students will have an understanding of the short term and long term effects of the gold rush. They will be able to describe the events leading up to the gold rush. Students will be able to see how the gold rush influences their lives today. They will closely examine their lives for attitudes and expectations similar to people during the gold rush. Where they see sin, the students will work on responses they can implement in their own lives to bring them back to God’s desires. Students who identify greed in their lives will use ideas like increased tithing, closet sorts, and many other ideas to combat this attitude. Probably the most important thing students will learn in this unit is that they can be influential in bringing the world back to God’s original design.