Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's the Economy, Stupid!

Although I usually can't stand educational jargon, we have truly had a 'teachable moment' in these past few months. With all of the focus on standardized curriculum and testing, we rarely have the opportunity to stop and ask our students what they want or need to know. There are times, however, when it is our duty to stop and do just that. I know that many adults have started to panic over the current economy, and I have to start to wonder, what are my students thinking? I know statistically that many of their parents have been recently laid off or have been talking about 'cutting back'. What does that mean to our students? Are they worried they might lose their homes? How can we, as their teachers, help alleviate some of these fears?

This is a terrible situation for adults and for kids, but for kids, it is complicated by a lack of experience and understanding. While we can't fix the economy for them, they can benefit by some understanding of what is going on, what the government, private companies and individuals are doing to fix it, as well as the understanding that this has happened before. A great resource that we can use is a weekly publication called the 'Good Sheet'. This fall, it started to appear at Starbucks locations and many back issues are available online. There is a great one called 'Its the Economy, Stupid!' from October that looks at 20th-21st century economic history. Its great for students, lots of graphics, not too complicated, and uses examples they can relate to- like charting the price of milk over 100 years.

Hopefully, our students are just curious about the economy and we can satisfy student's desire to understand the situation. But if they are scared, an open dialogue in a safe environment can make the difference between being fearful and being informed and aware.

1 comment:

Helen said...

Every year when I'm teaching the American Revolution, I have the fifth graders interview an adult about taxes today. Boy, did I hear some interesting things this year! It lead to a very interesting discussion of the gas tax, and it was such a great real world conection to make ten year olds aware of what those numbers they see at the gas station actually mean. Nothing shocked them more than the tobacco tax. They were fascinated by the concept of taxing a product as to raise money to teach them to never use that product!