Hyperinflation is is one of those concepts that many pupils simply do not get their heads around. The figures involved are incomprehensible, it bears little resemblance to anything that they have ever experienced and when explained is quite often simply unbelievable. This is an overview of an activity that I put together some time ago. It aims to make the main points a little more understandable.
When I first started teaching the concept of Hyperinflation to GCSE pupils they struggled to understand the social and economic impact of the rapid decline in the value of money. I wanted them to ‘get’ how it could impact on daily life, understand what the consequences were for people who, like them, were used to money being relatively stable in terms of its purchasing power. My attempt at achieving this was this activity, currently hosted on Ian Dawson’s fabulous Thinking History website.
The activity combines a little bit of maths with a visit to the school shop. The twist, is that the prices at the shop are changing minute by minute. Whilst this clearly wasn’t the case in Germany in 1922, it does highlight the rapid depreciation of the value of money at the time.
Pupils have always seemed to enjoy the activity. Perhaps because it usually results in a box of chocolates to devour… More important, they can grasp the severity of the hyperinflation crisis, relate it to something that is relatively simple and from their begin to analyse how it would affect other things, such as the wider economy and the way in which a household could be run.
Link – When Money Dies: 5 Currencies that crashed. Infographics showing the impact and scale of five examples of hyperinflation.
Hyperinflation in Germany, 1923. An account on our sister site about the Hyperinflation Crisis of 1923.