Teaching Children to Live in a Complex Economic World

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Teaching Economics, Teaching Children to Live:

kids-reading590Most teachers know very little about economics and so it is almost never referred to in when they teach children in the lower grades. This worries me as the real world we live in is driven by the big economic engine and all we train are consumers rather than wealth creators who have to figure it out on their own. Well, I learned that this is not totally true. Some schools and some teachers seem to share my view.

Last summer I was reading The Economist on our deck and our younger granddaughter (11) tucked in next to me. Noticing what I was reading, she started to make her own commentary on the state of the economy and asked some good questions on investing. That surprised me and got me thinking. The same week, we were driving with Grandma and Aunt in front, chatting about schools and old big ears (the same grand daughter) chirped in to explain how her class was learning persuasion and marketing. This just totally floored me. My rant against schools needs rethinking.

Teach Children Marketing:
Challenge them.

In this school where Big Ears granddaughter goes, they were grouped and given the challenge of crafting a cereal from scratch and market this to their class. She talked about the product and what they put into it, considering what is healthy.They designed a package attractive to consumers. Sharing her class experience, she talked about the impact of different colors and how to persuade people to buy their product. She bubbled on and it was clear the class was really involved.

Engaging children in everyday economics:
Applied methodology that taught them other knowledge and skills.

1342508621A tip of the hat to that teacher who went out of her way to engage her class in this exercise and used it as a platform for a bit of psychology, sociology, diet management and health. It had the kids organizing presentations and learning skills of argument to convince others. It began an awareness of guerrilla marketing as a new defense against being exploited by the market. It was applied and useful and it convinced me that we both can and should start doing much more to help get kids ready for the real world.

Questions to ask about economics:
Use the world we live in as your curriculum for economics basics.

What are cash cards? Credit cards? What is the price you pay when you use them? What is “shopping” and how does it become an escape?

How do we manage money, invest money, have fun with money? What is a Bank and how does it make money? A mortgage? Savings? Charity and reaching out with money?

All of these can be taught and the personal economic nightmare all around us shows what a bad job we have done. We don’t teach these things in math and language and civics and history. We can use the world we live in as the teaching method like old big ears’ teacher and the breakfast cereal.