Teaching Students About the Great New Deal


The Great New Deal, a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1939, has impacted American history in countless ways. As educators, it is our responsibility to teach students about the significance of this transformative period and its influence on contemporary politics, economics, and society. This article provides an outline for teaching students about the Great New Deal by covering its historical context, key elements, and long-lasting effects.

Historical Context:

1. The Great Depression: Begin by discussing the Great Depression, which set the stage for the implementation of the Great New Deal. Students should understand how factors such as stock market crashes, unemployment, and economic collapse led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to introduce new policies aimed at recovery and reform.

2. FDR’s Election: Explain how the American people’s dissatisfaction with previous governmental response led to the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. Discuss his background and experience and mention how he promised to provide relief for the nation’s suffering through a platform known as the New Deal.

The Key Elements of The Great New Deal:

1. Relief: Teach students about FDR’s initial efforts to address the immediate crisis of unemployment by creating temporary government jobs through programs such as Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Public Works Administration (PWA), and Works Progress Administration (WPA). Emphasize how these organizations provided immediate assistance to millions of Americans.

2. Recovery: Introduce students to the agricultural and industrial reforms established under FDR’s administration that aimed at returning the nation to economic stability. Discuss how policies like Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) helped stabilize crop prices for farmers while National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) set various regulations to promote fair competition within industries.

3. Reform: Explain how several programs introduced under the Great New Deal reformed various sectors by ensuring a more stable and prosperous future. Discuss the Wagner Act that established protections for workers’ rights, Fair Labor Standards Act that set minimum wage laws, and Social Security Act which introduced an insurance program for the elderly and unemployed.

Long-Lasting Effects:

1. Changing Role of Government: The Great New Deal marked an era of increased governmental involvement in economics, as well as establishing social welfare programs. Teach students about how this has influenced subsequent policy decisions and contributed to shaping our current understanding of the government’s role in society.

2. Legacy of Infrastructure: Many public works initiatives created during the Great New Deal are still present today, such as highways, parks, and bridges. Explain how these projects have greatly contributed to the development and expansion of American infrastructure.


The Great New Deal remains a vital part of American history due to its lasting influence on economics, society, and government policy-making. By providing students with an in-depth understanding of its historical context, key elements, and long-term effects, educators can equip learners with valuable perspectives on the significance of this period in shaping America’s present and future.

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