What economics would you teach kids?

by jsalvati

What economics would you teach kids?

Rdan points to a ‘National Budget Simulation’ program that is apparently part of Massachusetts economics education for grades 4-12. I was surprised when I clicked on the link because the federal budget seems like a really strange place to start economics education.

It seems important to start economics education with the economics concepts that kids can actually use in their lives. If I had control over what economics some kids learned in school, I think this would be my list:

Opportunity cost
Gains from trade
Importance of trade offs
Emphasis on the idea that everything has value (time, money, lack of garbage, etc.)
At a more advanced level

Marginal thinking
Efficiency of markets
Interest rates, Net Present Value
Consumption smoothing
I also think it would be useful to teach Utility and Expected Utility, but I don’t think it is possible to get to those topics.

Arnold Kling had post on a similar topic a while back.

As a side note, I think I would like to replace most of pre-calculus with basic probability theory from a Bayesian perspective with some heuristics and biases thrown in. Probability theory is a useful abrstraction for all sorts of problems, and it would also make that optional statistics class a lot less difficult if you could teach it from a bayesian perspective.

I was a little surprised myself to see the link, and pleased. I was planning to write a post on kids and must have left the link on ‘scheduled’ and jsalvati delightfully picked it up. He and a friend are undergraduates who started Good Morning Economics.

As jsalvati noted, Arnold Kling at EconLog wrote that after eliminating things from the high school curriculum:

With all that said, here is what I wish every high school student would learn about economics:

–the concept of opportunity cost
–how economic incentives affect behavior
–the gains from trade
–how prices allocate resources
–how entrepreneurs introduce innovation

If every citizen understood those things, the level of debate over economic policy could be much higher.

The link is to a section of Thinkfinity MA series sponsored by Verizon. I will be a part of of a state based team that provides an opportunity to develop curriculum materials for kids elementary to high school.

I am on a “validation of resources team” scheduled for this Aug. 7 to find out what is expected and to meet both state educators (curriculum and technology sectors) and those doing the validating.

As I gather information I will update and link to other sites that are interesting.