Division of Labor Toolkit
Exploring the original text:
We offer guidance for building confidence and competence with original texts in your classroom.
Adam Smith Works offers reading guides that insert factual, interpretive, and evaluative questions directly into the text for exploration with your students. The first chapter of Wealth of Nations introduces the concept of the division of labor. A deeper dive may incorporate chapters 2 and 3 as well.
- Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter 1: Of the Division of Labour
- Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter 2: Of the Principle which gives Occasion to the Division of Labour
Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter 3: That the Division of Labour is Limited by the Extent of the Market
Begin your class with a quick activity to set the stage for learning.
Ready-to-use lesson plans allow students to explore the concept of the division of labor through activities, discussion, and writing assignments.
- Division of Labor and the Wealth of Nations is a two-day lesson plan exploring the interactive pin factory and using a hands-on activity with raisins and toothpicks, then discussion of short excerpts from Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. This lesson plan offers online resources and an optional extension activity.
- Adam Smith's Potato Chips explores how the division of labor and the extent of the market have changed over time using videos, discussion sheets, a podcast, and the interactive pin factory.
- Adam Smith's Pin Factory and the Division of Labor Pipe Cleaner Activity explores the division of labor with a hands-on activity and accompanying discussion questions. This lesson plan offers an optional extension activity.
- The Division of Labor and the Future of Work "builds" a production chain using sounds and actions, offers a hands-on craft activity and a short video, then uses discussion questions and a written assignment to tie the concepts together.
The Benefits of Division of Labor is Limited by the Extent of the Market is designed for students learning about how interconnectedness between communities emerge and how advancements in technology, like transportation, have changed how we interact with one another.
- Video: Part 3: On The Division of Labor of the An Animal That Trades video series
This eight-minute video provides an overview of the division of labor, how it arises, and Adam Smith's beliefs about how it affects individual identity and society.
- Comic: The Boy Who Loved to Play by Jason Meadows and Jeremy Lott
A one-page, printable comic to help students think about the source of innovation.
- Creative writing: Dear Adam Smith: Entrepreneur Inquiring
Instead of "Dear Abby," dear Adam Smith responds to a soap maker thinking about her next hire.
- Fashion & Industry: "Who Are You Wearing?" Fashion production in the age of Adam Smith by Caren Oberg
A short reading with historical examples and an explanation of how the division of labor helped individuals make woollen coats and tartan dresses.
Interactive Pin Factory: In each “room” of the virtual pin factory work is divided into very specific tasks and there are imbedded discussion questions for students to consider.
Division of Labor, a quick review
These original articles, by Duke University political scientist Michael Munger, provide an overview of the division of labor and its importance in economics. You can also use these articles to offer opportunities for evaluative discussion or writing assignments in which students can apply what they learned through earlier readings or lessons.