Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Lesson in Economics and Caring

We have to do a good job of teaching economics to children our lives are full of folks who live a life of unmanageable credit card debit, rent-to-own businesses and payday loan places. We have become a nation of people who do not understand economics and the impact of financial decisions. Economics lessons start in elementary schools, although because Social Studies is not a part of high stakes standardized tests, the subject goes untouched in many schools.

My wife has come up with a great idea on how to teach about the basics of the marketplace, economics, and the hard work involved in being an entrepreneur. The hope, of course, is to help instill an interest in business in children so they can grow up to be self-sufficient members of the community. She’s a smarty, my wife.

Kiva.com is a website that helps Johnny Beercan donate some of his money to struggling entrepreneurs in developing countries. Beercan lends $400 to some family in Cambodia. The family uses the money to start a business or expand a business. The family then takes the next six to 12 months to repay the loan. Once the loan is repaid, then Beercan can pull out his money or lend to someone else. Throughout the process, Beercan will receive email updates about the progress and how his money is being used.

How cool would it be for a fifth grade class to raise money and lend it to some family overseas. Then the kids could monitor how the money is used, see the process of entrepreneurship change someone’s life. They could correspond with the recipient and use real life to learn about … real life! Once the money is repaid, then that money could be used for next year’s class of fifth graders. If that group of kids also raised money, then maybe more than one family could be helped.

We adults lecture kids all the time about the importance of a good education and how it can help them succeed in life. I’m reminded of an English teacher in college. Mr. Turner was strict about us fiction writers “showing and not telling”. Seems the same principle can be used in teaching as well. And we show our kids how to care about someone else besides themselves in the process.

3 comments:

Gaic Conan said...

Hello,

Interesting article. we building a free Entrepreneurs Investors community. Our idea is to bring to entrepreneurs advice that will help them in the growth process. The website is free of charge while still in beta. Let's develop markets together!

I leave you the decision to publish the address of the website (thestreetmarket.com).

Thanks and good work!

Gay said...

Bravo, Jack! Our family has a one-fiftieth share in the purchase of two dairy cows for a women in Azerbaijan. It's rewarding to get e-mails from Kiva notifying us that another few dollars of the loan has been repaid: I can imagine how thrilled students would be when these messages arrive, detailing the status of the loan.

When this loan is repaid, we'll look for another partner in Kiva and "roll over" the money.

Happy Holidays!

Jack said...

Rock on Gay. Thanks for posting. I am always amazed how up on the world you are.