Jan 23, 2009

From the Classroom vol 3

One of my favorite topics to teach is the workings of the market system. One reason is that our students are somewhat familiar with all of the concepts, if not the terminology. Another reason is that there are a couple of great, short activities to demonstrate some of the concepts.

A simulation to teach kids that trade creates wealth is certainly a must. I use a variation on Lesson 1 "Why People Trade" of Economics in Action (located on the VE3 disk). The lesson calls small bags of goodies for each student, but I prefer to customize the activity by substituting a list of things that students may find enjoyable. These range from the lead in a Broadway play, the ability to run the 40 yard dash in 3.8 seconds, to Atlanta Braves luxury boxes. The great thing is that you can customize each item according to your school, your student population, and your own sense of humor. Each student gets a small piece of paper with a different item and then we commence with the activity as described.

Another short little activity I use demonstrates the importance of property rights. In class today, we performed the paper clip simulation described in lesson 4 "Property Rights in a Market Economy," also in Economics in Action. And a nice cap to this lesson is discussing the horrid condition of the boys bathroom at school to tie the tragedy of the commons to something the students experience every day.