As part of Form 4’s Geography curriculum, each class took part in an ‘International trading Game’ to experience the challenges and excitement of international trade. The aim was to get the best price for the goods they sold and the biggest bargains for the goods each team bought. The children had to be mindful of how the global economy was doing as the prices they were able to get and the deals they made depended on how healthy the global economy was. Before the game began, the children believed that their only limit was their imagination, their negotiating skills and their bank account. As part of this project Form 4 learnt that global citizens rely on a network of communications between countries and that declining and emerging economies can have a positive and negative impact. Trade alliances can protect employees and the environment, such as the European Union and the North America Free Trade Agreement. The children found out that these can encourage trade between member countries, provide a much larger market to sell goods to and make larger profits, help to safeguard the industries of member countries and that free trade between member countries means that there are no tariffs or quotas imposed on them.
An important part of the project was for the children to understand that the result of the pattern of world trade is that the producers of primary products in developing countries lose out with low wages and poor standards of living. With little money they cannot afford essentials such as primary education for their children and many children are required to work to help the family earn a living. The choices that people make about what they buy and where they buy it from has a direct impact on global trade. There are options available to ensure that the goods we buy help to remove inequalities or unfairness such as fair trade which means that producers receive a guaranteed and fair price for their products regardless of the price on the world market. This means their quality of life should improve as will the long-term prospects for their children.
Before the trading game lesson, the children discussed the question ‘what is trade?’ and ‘what are key terms for goods coming into a country and goods leaving a country?’. The children also discussed the difference between north-south exports in terms of primary and manufactured goods, as well as considering the GDP for each country and how this effects ability to trade. The children learned that the highest-value export of a country is the good that makes the country the most money through global trade. They also thought about the physical and human features of each country that determine what type of export makes the country the most money. Form 4 also gained a greater understanding of trade and its global scale and they were introduced to the multi-step journey of manufactured goods and the global supply chain they go through from source to sale.
At the start of the trading game, each country had a pack that contained raw materials (paper) and manufacturing equipment (scissors, rulers, pencils for example) and each pack was different depending on the development of the country and whether it was a Less Economically Developed Country (LEDC) or a More Economically Developed Country (MEDC). Countries competed against each other to 'manufacture' paper 2D shapes and sell them to an international commodity market trader. The rules of the game were outlined at the start and they included: no tracing of shapes from the shape sheet, you must have 5 of any shape before you can deposit them with the bank manager and you can make any shape you like, One Form 4 reflected, 'We realised towards the end of the game that it had been designed so that the richer countries got more resources and the poorer countries got less resources which felt really unfair but it made us think about how this happens in real life.'