succumbing to peer pressure

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

In the middle of work this afternoon I stared dumbfounded at this phrase from an article on new learning requirements for first grade: able to "explain the difference between goods and services and . . . describe how people are both buyers and sellers of goods and services."

Well aren't we just training little Capitalists? I'm sure there are many other requirements for the first grade, and I have no idea why the author of this article chose to highlight this one requirement, but good grief! Must the assimilation into a consumer culture start so early?!

Also upsetting, the general theme of this article is how tough these new guidelines are, forcing first graders to start reading and writing at such an early age. I'm sorry? I could read and write at age 4, before starting kindergarten. Yes, I realize that's a little advanced, and is thanks to the fact that I have two excellent parents who were engaged enough to teach me how to read as soon as I showed an interest. Nevertheless, my entire kindergarten class learned how to read that year, covering phonics and so forth. What the heck are kids doing now in kindergarten and first grade (nevermind the ever-increasing rate of pre-school attendance) if they aren't learning letters and numbers??


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So this makes me what? Equivalent to the tobacco companies? Or just a used car salesman?

Ah well, time to get back peddling smut... I mean capitalism.


9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the standards of public school are too low, I dont think you'll find too many responsible parents who disagree with that. Rudimentary literacy, even before 1st grade, isnt unreasonable at all.

As for teaching the fundamental of economics, I've actually long thought that that was a good idea for public education to make a requirement. I mean, face it... a lot of public decisions could be better made if more people had a background in economics. Think about how much easier it would be if people could actually *understand* what it would mean to, say, raise minimum wages, provide universal healthcare, cut taxes to the richest 1%, etc, etc.

Why, geez... people might actually make informed decisions.

---Vicious Sid

9:03 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Sorry Steve-o. You know you're my favorite capitalist! Still, I stand by the opinion that the difference between goods and services is perhaps not one of those critical things first graders need to spend their time learning. Maybe sometime in middle school as part of a larger economics course?

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I appreciate your favor, but your comment on consumerism indicates some kind of feeling that the economy, and knowledge thereof (economics) is somehow wrong and harmful. I'm just confused at the very common implication that bad practices by some make the tool itself anathema. Economics is mostly just a description of how things seem to work in the world. If people are greedy and manipulative, they were like that before economics got there. We're just pointing it out.

And if you really want to bash on consumerism, point your fingers at marketing, not economics.


11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A bump on Steve's post. Your intellectual prejudices are showing, Meg. :-)


12:22 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Flash!topian said...

During the Enlightenment, we decided that we wanted a secular and equal society, but something other than religion had to provide morality for us because God was hijacked by rich white selfish people. We picked literature. If you don't get the messages in Chaucer and Dante and Shakespeare, you'll have no moral grounding, we said, so we started making kids memorize lit instead of Bible verses.
But in the twentieth century, we realized that literary studies got taken over by rich white guys in the same way religion did so we turned to economics. Surely, the entrepreneur could be a model for bootstrap-pulling equality, right? Even if we're not all "culturally superior," an open market would allow for the free play of ideas and the supremecy of invention!
Surprise, surprise, economics got taken over by rich white guys too!
So what's left? Where do we find our values? Plenty of people have just decided to head back to the church, but I'm not ready to buy it.

8:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know how accurate it is to say that "economics" has become a tool of rich white guys. Steve, at least, isn't rich. :-)

Economics has probably come to the defense of the poor and disenfranchised more than religion has in the past century. Sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly, but it has... economics has been a justification of worker's rights, a justification for a social safety net, a justification of revolution (both FOR socialism/communism and against it).

To prevent economics from being a "tool" of the bourgeois, it's important that it not have a mystical property. Supply and demand curves shouldnt be the new iconoclasm... and like all of society's ills, the way to combat that is by education. If the next generation all had a true understanding of the economics behind political decisions, they'd be better informed voters and push for better policies. God, I wish our *president* and congress of such concepts as "scarcity", "choice", "opportunity costs", and "public goods" (Stuff they want to teach K-6ers: )

Economics will set you free. Well, economics and the truth.

---Vicious Sid

8:51 PM  

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