Job, rent, loan, auction… These complicated economics concepts in adult world, are taking a different form in our Grade 6 classroom at CIS.
Since the beginning of this school year, our Grade 6 teacher Mr.Kay has been working on a project called “Classroom Economy” with students. This is a model of real world economics.
What is Classroom Economy？
How did we implement a classroom economy within a classroom? The rules are simple:
Students do not own their desk, but they have to pay “rent” for it every month. In addition, if students behave poorly, like bullying a fellow student, they will be fined.
All students apply for monthly jobs such as food delivery person, banker, reporter, and are paid every month. On top of that, good behaviour and good test results are rewarded with bonuses.
Time to shop! Every month an auction will be held where the students can buy items such as stationery, a movie afternoon, a pizza class, and much more. Students use their savings to buy things in the auction, but if they have loans, they may not be able to participate. Just like in real life!
In order to budget their income and expenses, students are expected to work hard making money and control their spending. This inevitably leads to a lot of interesting stories.
The purpose of this program is to encourage good behaviour of the students in class. For example, students receive a bonus for reading at home. The more time they spend reading, the more they will improve their reading and writing skills which effects their performance in all subjects. At the same time, students get fined for not speak English in class, letting them get used to speaking English all the time. In this healthy cycle, the classroom economy serves as a great incentive.
The jobs of the classroom economy also teach the students about responsibility. There are bankers who take care of loans, police officers in charge of class discipline, food delivery people who get snacks for the whole class, etc. If they don’t perform well in their job, they will be fired and have to find a new job. Surely without salary, they can’t pay their rent. These consequences make students realize how important it is for everyone to have self-discipline and responsibility.
From Economics to Real-life Challenges
In the process, students also learn basic economic concepts such as expenses, income, loans and salaries.
We had one student spend $1000 for a pen that he thought he really wanted in an auction, only to find out that when the excitement of buying it faded away, he was in debt and he did not need that pen at all.
Meanwhile another student took a loan from the bank for something he really needed and had a chance to use it while paying back.
For most of them, the moment they happily receive a paycheque and are ready to shop, is when they suddenly realize that they have to pay rent in two days, and have to “painfully” control their desires.
Economics is not a core course in elementary or secondary school. The experience of this project is a way to help our students learn how to think in an economic way while growing up, so that they will be well-prepared for real-life challenges when the time comes.
What I learned from this classroom economy thing is not to spend too much money on stuff. And you have to behave well in class so you don’t get fined. And try to work hard to get more money to buy more stuff.
What have I learned from classroom economy is choose your own path of accomplishments. Like being at the top, it’s so hard since everybody says to do stuff that you don’t want to. So just choose what you want to do and it will be an accomplishment.