Friday, October 23, 2009

Why Does this Not Surprise Me?

One of the subject areas I feel was majorly lacking in my own formal education is economics. My high school offered an elective course in economics my senior year but I did not have room for it in my schedule. My college alma mater had a well-respected economics program but again I did not take any of its courses. So whatever I know about the topic comes from what I've learned on my own or from my parents, both of whom were economics majors undergrad and pursued graduate studies in business administration.

So I was interested to see a thread on the Well-Trained Mind bulletin board about materials to teach kids basic economics. Several of the books recommended have been ones I've used with Miss Scarlet- The Everything Kids Money Book by Diane Mayr, The Story of Money by Betsy Maestro, and If You Made a Million by David Schwartz.

There was one title mentioned in the thread that looked really intriguing: Capitalism for Kids: Growing Up to Be Your Own Boss by Karl Hess. I read a review of the book that made me think it would provide a great counterbalance to all the negative "spin" that we've been hearing in the elite media (e.g. the media blitz promoting Michael Moore's new movie).

Since I'm the frugal type, I checked the availability of the book at libraries in my area. First I checked the county inter-library loan system. Nope. Then I widened my search to the San Francisco public library since I drop my DH off in the city every weekday morning. Nada. Then I checked the Santa Clara county system even though that would be a bit of a schlep down the peninsula. Zilch. Turns out that the closest library that carries the book is 20 miles away, across the bay down in southern Alameda county.

Sadly, I'm less than shocked that none of the libraries in San Francisco, San Mateo, or Santa Clara counties carry a kids' economics book with a pro-capitalism message...

P.S. I'm most likely going to purchase the "Business, Economics, and Entrepreneurship" course from Bluestocking Press that includes Capitalism for Kids plus 2 other titles & a teachers' guide.


Chuck said...

You might want to check out Karl Hess a bit more before using his books in a curriculum for young kids, unless you want them indoctrinated in extreme Libertarianism. He was a bit of a nut (!!!)-- a one-time right-wing radical (and friend of Sen. Joseph McCarthy) rabid anti-communist FBI-informant turned free-spirit New Leftie turned anarchist turned anti-government and anti-establishment Libertarian etc., etc.. It also doesn't appear that 'Capitalism for Kids' has been reviewed by any reputable critic or literary journal beyond those of equally-left-field libertarians. That may be part of the reason you don't find his books on public library shelves. There must be better ones on economics available, INMH. I like capitalism, too.

JJ Ross said...

I can't wrap my developmental educator's mind around using capitalism and economics books -- even when popularly hooked using the word "money" to sound appropriately accessible -- for children the oldest of whom is six!

Crimson Wife said...

Actually, she turned 7 last month (I need to update my "about us"). However, she's working way above grade level in most subjects. Cognitively, she'd be able to understand a book aimed at a middle school audience.

She hears a lot of NPR in the mornings when we're taking my DH to his office. That's why I'm concerned about showing her an alternate perspective, to balance out the pro-Big Government slant of NPR. I don't object to her hearing the liberal POV, but I want her to also hear the opposing arguments. She's never going to be able to make up her mind for herself without hearing both.

JJ Ross said...

Of course she is brilliant! :)
I was shaking my head at book-as-lesson for young children, not at the level of the concepts. Radio stories? Better, and there's a thought (maybe let her listen to Dave Ramsey with you then!) Play and manipulables, taking her shopping and out to eat, paying bills and going to the bank where you meet the nice tellers, visiting charity bazaars, give young children the grounding in real life that will make the economic concepts in econ books meaningful to her when she's older.

Oh, and homeschooling with a baby in the house? -- so many opportunities to help her consciously start to connect how important things are paid for in a family, conceptualizing systems at that complex cognitive level she's surely capable of (not just personal consumerism and services like the doctor or diapers but community supports like the water, lights and cooling, sidewalks for the stroller, museums and parks and storytime at the library etc.)