Teaching economics to the sixth grade - Marginal REVOLUTION
"In Ms. Higgins’ classroom, the lesson shifted to economic models. The city states of Babylon were once run as a command economy, where prices of goods and peoples’ incomes are decided by the government. The students concede that while the market economy has made them wealthier, trading for the good life is exhausting.
“To be honest I like the exercises that center on a command economy,” says 11-year-old Mairead Chase of city state Eshnunna. “I like authority. I like to have a goal,” she shrugs and smiles. “Sometimes it’s nice to be told what to do.”
Schools create an anti-entrepreneurial environment. Students are told what to do, how to do it, when it is due, and so on. There is little initiative involved outside of taking control of homework, and doing assignments timely. It does not have to be this way. And this is not the way children naturally learn. To the contrary children when playing in large age diverse peer groups often will spend time watching older and more accomplished children before they begin to try things on their own. They do not follow rote verse, but instead, they strike out on their own, finding new and different challenges. All while sticking close to the older, wiser children, in part to garner accolades for success, and in part in case their help is necessary.
The future of work is unclear, but it will not be like the old factory floor where workers were told exactly what to do, and they could do nothing else. Tomorrow it appears likely that workers will need something much more entrepreneurial to make the cut. Our schools continue to produce workers suited to the factory floor, although that is quickly disappearing.
We fail our children by trapping them in an education system designed to create good soldiers for the 19th century Prussian Army, and modified to create good factory workers. It seems we could update this long antiquated system, but are fearful that any changes might injure our delicate flowers. In the meantime, our delicate flowers are trampled under the feet of the long dead Prussian Army.