Title: Hafta Do NAFTA?334

Key Words: tariffs, free trade, protectionism, environmental regulation, labor laws, Mexico, Canada.

National Standard: 11
The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface

State Standard: 13
Students will demonstrate an understanding of the impact of human systems on Earth's surface including the characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations; the nature and complexity of patterns of cultural diffusion; patterns and networks of economic interdependence; processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement; and the forces of cooperation and conflict that shape human geographic divisions.

Teaching Level: H

Lesson Introduction: Since its proposal, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has generated considerable controversy. Businesspeople and politicians alike have commented on its provisions and their implementation. The issues include a possible loss of jobs for American workers, the possible economic benefits of eliminating trade barriers with Mexico, the environmental problems which may result from the agreement, given differences in environmental regulation among the three nations, and the problems and prospects for U.S. companies in doing business in Mexico and Canada.

As future voters, students should be aware of this issue, which is political, economic, and geographic in its scope. The research suggested in the following lesson plan should assist them in making an informed decision. Students should have some fundamental knowledge of trade issues. This lesson may be used in a current events or global issues classes, as well as in economics or geography courses.

Objectives/Purpose: To analyze the benefits and problems of U.S. participation in NAFTA.

Materials: Internet addresses as follows:

http://iepnt1.itaiep.coc.gov/nafta/nafta2.htm
http://iepnt1.itaiep.doc.gov/nafta/3022
http://www.ita.doc.gov
http://www.ita.stat-usa.gov

http://www.citizen.org/orgs/public-citizen/pctrade/borderrecs.html
http://www.cei.org/nafta.html
http://www.citizen.org/pctrade/activism/factsheet.html
http://www.freepress.org/previous/nafta.html

print sources on NAFTA, as listed in Reader's Guide.

Procedure: l. Show students past news magazines from your school library which illustrate some of the early controversies about NAFTA.

2. Ask students what NAFTA is. Discuss, filling in information as necessary.

3. Ask students if they think protectionism or free trade is better. Discuss, noting the benefits and problems with each.

4. Note that the Department of Commerce projects that Mexican citizens will be buying over one million cars and light trucks from the United States in the year 2000, up from 473,000 new units in 1990. [http://iepnt1.itaiep.doc.gov/nafta/3022.htm 7/9/97]. Other sources are, of course, less positive about U.S. participation in the agreement.

5. Divide the class into two groups. Each group will represent the campaign team for a presidential candidate, one of whom is in favor of NAFTA, while the other is opposed to it.

Roles within groups are: the presidential candidate, who must present a speech, then answer questions on the subject; the campaign manager, who is responsible for coordinating the team's efforts; two campaign speechwriters; one lead researcher for NAFTA, the other lead researcher against NAFTA. The remaining squad members will be researchers, responsible for finding information for and against NAFTA.

Note that if the candidates and their supporters are to be fully prepared, each team should study all of the information, in order to be prepared to ask comprehensive questions and to counter arguments from the opposition.

6. Students should be allowed to research on the Internet for part of the first day. The sources listed above are divided into two groups. The first presents the government's perspective. The second group is comprised of critics of NAFTA. Students may, of course, access print materials referenced in Reader's Guide.

7. Students should complete their research for homework and write the speech as a team during the first half of class on the second day.
Speeches and questions/answers should be presented by the end of the second class.

[If students have limited access to the Internet, the teacher may wish to allow several evenings outside of class in which to complete research, while continuing with other lessons in class.]

Evaluation/Assessment: Student answers to discussion questions; student research on the Internet and other sources about NAFTA; student questions for presidential candidates; student speeches, composed in groups.

Extension/Enrichment: Students may wish to investigate U.S. trade issues with other areas of the world, including Japan, China, and Europe.

Additional Standards: National standard 5 (regions); standard 13 (cooperation and conflict); standard 18 (interpret the present and plan for the future); state standard 11 (physical/human geographic features and regions; standard 15 (interpret the past and present and plan for the future).

Reflection: How successful was this lesson? Did all students benefit? Were there any surprises? What might you do differently another time? Please note any changes that will make this lesson more effective and useful in the future and pass them along to the NHGA. We appreciate your comments.

Thank you,

The authors.


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