This Lesson plan is part of The New York Times” lesson plans.
In this lesson, students will learn about a process called gentrification and decide whether it helps or hurts communities.
Featured Article: “The Uncertain Fate of a London Neighborhood” by Aina J. Khan
An East London neighborhood that has long been known for its many Bangladeshi-run businesses has undergone big changes in the past several years because of a process called gentrification.
In this lesson, you will learn more about gentrification and how it has affected the Brick Lane neighborhood. Then, you will use what you’ve learned to evaluate whether you think gentrification mostly helps or hurts communities.
The featured article focuses on a process called gentrification. Have you heard this word before?
In a 2020 article in Teen Vogue — “What Is Gentrification? How It Works, Who It Affects, and What to Do About It” — Andrew Lee explains:
In brief, gentrification happens when wealthier newcomers move into working-class neighborhoods. New businesses and amenities often pop up to cater to these new residents. Potholes might get filled; a new bus line might appear. These changes attract even more affluent people, and property values go up. Landlords raise rents to what these new arrivals can afford to pay, so the original tenants get forced out. Real estate speculators may pressure homeowners to sell their family homes. Some of those pushed out will move to more affordable neighborhoods, others to entirely different cities; others may become unhoused.
Define “gentrification” using a Frayer model with the following prompts as a guide:
Concept: Write “gentrification.”
Definition: In your own words, write a short definition of “gentrification” based on the Teen Vogue excerpt above.
Facts and/or Characteristics: What are some of the key features of gentrification?
Examples: What are some examples of gentrification from the description above? Can you think of any in your own community or from the news, TV, movies or books?
Non-examples: What are some things that would not be considered gentrification?
Fill in as much of the template as you can now, but you can continue to add to it as you read the featured article.
Take a look at this list of vocabulary words that appear in the featured article:
Do you recognize any of these words? Can you define them or use them in a sentence?
To make sure you know the meaning of each word, review this list on Vocabulary.com.
Questions for Writing and Discussion
Read the article below, and then answer the following questions:
1. What makes the Brick Lane neighborhood in East London unique?
2. The reporter says that the Brick Lane Jamme Mosque is a symbol of the multiculturalism of the neighborhood. How so?
3. What is one sign of the gentrification of Brick Lane mentioned in the article?
4. Why were some residents angry at the decision to build a five-story shopping center at the site of the Truman Brewery?
6. The article shares the perspectives of two Bangladeshi business owners: Shams Uddin, who says the shopping center could be good for the community, and Jamal Khalique, who does not support the proposal. Whose argument do you find more persuasive and why?
Return to the Frayer model you created in the warm-up. What other characteristics, examples or non-examples of gentrification can you add after reading the article about Brick Lane?
Then, tell us, or discuss with your classmates:
What is your reaction to the story about gentrification in Brick Lane?
Have you witnessed gentrification where you live? If yes, what is an example of it? What has it been like for you and your community? If no, why do you think your community has not experienced gentrification? How do you think you might feel if your home were to change in this way?
After learning more about gentrification, and seeing one example, do you think it mostly helps or mostly hurts communities? Why? If you don’t feel like you can answer this question, what additional information would you need?
If you’d like to learn more about how gentrification affects residents, watch or listen to one of the videos or podcasts below. What is it like hearing about gentrification from these first-person perspectives?
“Holding Out in Harlem, Despite Demolition” (Video | The New York Times)