History Teaching Unit: Would You Invest

Teaching unit based on WOULD YOU INVEST?
This is for use in KS 3 history.

Why use this unit?

The game Would You Invest? is great fun to play. But it is also a wonderful way to access real history. Here is a set of lesson ideas on how to do that.

What does this unit do?

It uses the game Would You Invest? as a springboard to stimulate discussion about the broad historical developments in which Barings bank played such an important part. In so doing, these ideas develop student's knowledge and understanding of economic aspects of 19th and 20th century history. 


Pupils play the game, Would You Invest?

If, after they have played the game, there are one or more projects that none of the pupils have invested in, then create a "class" investor and invest in those projects as a class.  The idea is to ensure that all the projects have been invested in.

With the whole class, discuss:


The world was changing dramatically in the 19th century. Do these investments shed light on some of the ways it was changing? 


Which of these investments were to do with new technologies of the day (i.e. engineering projects)?

What does this tell us about the role of finance in the rise of a global industrial economy?

[Note to teacher: these questions are trying to bring out the central role investment and finance - capital - had in the spread of industrialization and the rise of the global economy.]

2. Consider the following:

  1. To what extent were the big engineering projects successful for Barings?
  2. Which of  the investments included in the game, were NOT engineering projects?
  3. Looking at the transport projects, what are the dangers of investing in these?
  4. Why did transport projects play such a large part in Barings’ story? Does this tell us anything about the role of transport in the rise of the modern world economy? 

[Note to teacher: big engineering projects were, by definition, at the heart of the spread of industrialization in the 19th and 20th centuries. However, they were risky, as the Barings projects show. They were usually frighteningly expensive, and could often even more costly than anticipated. They could also be less profitable than their backers hoped.]

3. Consider the following:

  1. What were the opportunities and problems of investing in overseas projects?
  2. What information would YOU want to have about a possible investment in a foreign country in the 19th century (i.e. in the days before modern transport and communications such as telephones, email and aeroplanes)? 
  3. What were the qualities needed for being a big investor in those days, do you think?

To what extent is this true today? 

[Note to teacher: the world was a much bigger place then than now. It took weeks for people and information to travel from one continent to another and back. Investors in London were often completely reliant on people in the field, who may not have been the most dispassionate of judges. Such local factors as lower standards of public honesty, for example, could have a major impact on the success or failure of a project. International investors had to have an appetite for risk, as well as deep pockets.]

4. Look at a map of the British Empire in 1900.

  1. What does this tell us about Britain's place in the world at that time?
  2. Which of Baring's investments were inside Britain and its empire before 1900? Which were outside it?
  3. What does this suggest about Britain's role in the world, which the map does not tell us? 

[Note to teacher: Barings was only one of a handful of London banks operating in a similar way, above all NM Rothschild. London was not only the capital of the world's largest empire at this time, it was the undisputed financial capital of the world.]


What role did Barings play in opening up or developing new territories in North America?


What role did Barings play in the evolution