Mar 16, 2009

From the Classroom vol 12

“So what if we just print off more money and not tell anyone?”

I am sure we have all had this question asked of us by our students and I am sure that many economics teachers answer it in a similar way—a trip to the dollar store to load up on cheap prizes. Costume jewelry, candy, plastic frogs, cars, stickers; the possibilities are nearly limitless. I have found that the cheesier, the better.

Conduct a couple of auction rounds, supplying a great deal more currency in round two than round one. Record the prices on the board and that first question becomes obvious to most students. Simulations like this (also located in VE3-- Focus: High School Economics and Economics in Action) seem to be a great springboard to initiate your classroom discussion of inflation.

And if any silver lining can be found in the tragedy of Zimbabwe, it is that it sure makes teaching the consequences of inflation easier to understand. It is extremely hard for even the most disinterested 17 year old to glaze over during a discussion about an exchange rate of 300 trillion to 1 or a country chopping 12 zeroes from its currency.