Economics in the Classroom

In order to teach economics in the classroom, a teacher can use a fake monetary system to teach them the costs and benefits of their work and needs. For example, each student may start out with X amount of dollars for the school year. If the student needs a new pencil, a pencil will cost $0.25 of their current bank account. An excused late assignment can cost a student $5. Costs of certain needs vary depending on their significance in the classroom so that students may learn the value of a dollar such that you have to work harder for an excused assignment than you do for a pencil replacement. The students can do tasks around the classroom during appropriate times, such as cleaning, organizing, helping classmates, or being a teacher helper, to earn back money for various values. This will be a way to reward students for their behavior in a manner that can be useful for them in the future (money that can later be spent on their classroom needs). Such a strategy will introduce students early on to the idea of saving and contemplating purchases based off of pros and cons of purchases. This activity, in addition to teaching students economics, will also be a productive resource for students to practice math skills in their addition and subtraction of money in their “wallets.”

To assure that students are thinking economically during this task, the students should complete a short questionnaire, whether verbal or written to support their reasoning for their purchase. This questionnaire will ask students how much money they have in their “wallet” and how much they will be spending. To prove that the student has contemplated if the purchase is worth its cost, the students will also be asked why they think the purchase is necessary to be made instead of saving their money.

To note, it is important that a teacher does not reward students every time they do something correctly in the classroom. If a teacher was to do this, not only would the value of the classroom dollar be lost, but students would be working purely off of extrinsic motivation. In order to maintain intrinsic motivation, a teacher must select, up to her or his discretion, what actions are to be rewarded, when, and how often.