Thursday, March 10, 2016

An Economist Against Economics Education?

Here's a blog post about a news story that isn't available to regular people (way to completely not understand what you're trying to do, Wall Street Journal) about teaching economics in elementary school.

I cannot say this plainly enough: this is a terrible idea. All primary education is indoctrination. This is because young children do not yet understand how to question authority. As such, elementary education should stick to value-neutral, objective subjects. Like, oh, say, reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic.

Economics is decidedly not value-neutral. And elementary school teachers are not known for their nuanced presentation of multi-faceted problems. Some might say this is because they themselves don't grasp the nuances of multi-faceted problems (I would never say that, but some might), or maybe it's because the kids are incapable of understanding overlapping truth claims. For whatever reason, elementary-school economics is going to be nothing but normative economics.

I could only read the very first line of the article, but it's enough to prove my point.

"What is the basic economic problem all societies face?" April Higgins asks her sixth-grade class.
Is she going to tell them "scarcity," or is she going to say "climate change," "poverty," "immigration," or myriad other statist economic concerns? The only reason I can see to teach economics in school to elementary-school kids is to present normative viewpoints before they can understand the difference between positive and normative economics. Keep economics out of elementary schools.

PS: I tried to set this post to publish on Sunday but I'm getting an error because of "daylight savings [sic] time 'gap.'" One more reason to hate daylight saving time.

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