« The Things We Defend | Main | Men vs. Women: Those Little Things You Do »

April 13, 2009

A Teachable Moment

Rebecca Chapman teaches a daily economics lesson to her fourth-graders at a public elementary school near Houston. She assigns them jobs -- pencil guard, errand runner, class sheriff. She lets them run small businesses -- cubby cleaning, baked goods -- and make purchases with fake money. She even taxes the profits.

On March 25, the lesson was a little different. She turned that day to the issue that had captivated and infuriated Americans: the millions in retention bonuses paid to employees at AIG Financial Products, the unit whose risky deals had wrecked giant insurer American International Group.

Chapman stood before her students and stoked the populism in their young souls. Pretend you are taxpayers, she said. Now, think about AIG paying bonuses even after the government had committed $180 billion to bailing it out.

"Can you believe it?" she asked.

The children hissed and moaned, sounding much like the elected officials and talking heads who had been eager to out-outrage one another.

"I got them all riled up," said Chapman, 29.

Then she turned the tables.

"What if you were an AIG employee?" she asked. Imagine if you had not been involved in the deals that ruined the company but were left to clean up the mess. What if you had to pay back money you felt you had earned? What if your family had received death threats?

One boy raised his hand.

"Can we write them and let them know that it's going to be okay?" asked the boy...

Question of the day: Do you think we could get any of these kids to run for Congress? It might do wonders for the collective IQ of that institution.


Posted by Cassandra at April 13, 2009 07:41 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


"It might do wonders for the collective IQ of that institution."

Methinks, it would probably increase it exponentially -- at the very least.

Posted by: DL Sly at April 13, 2009 09:09 PM

Is yoooooooooour Congress smarter than a 4th grader????

Posted by: Game Show Host at April 13, 2009 09:27 PM

Well, they think they are after having bought the answer to the $64,000 question from Bernie Madoff in '06....buuut, everybody *knows* the real answer lies within the pages of "The Butt Book".

Posted by: DL Sly at April 13, 2009 11:18 PM

We could certainly use more teachers like Rebecca Chapman...

Posted by: camojack at April 14, 2009 01:22 AM

And if we had more teachers like Rebecca Chapman, it might do wonders for the collective IQ of this country...

Posted by: HomefrontSix at April 14, 2009 02:22 AM


Posted by: Cricket at April 14, 2009 08:47 AM

...everybody *knows* the real answer lies within the pages of "The Butt Book".

I'm never going to live that down, am I?

Posted by: Game Show Host at April 14, 2009 08:52 AM

Ohhhh, eventually. I mean you *did* live down a certain spelling burp.



Well, mostly.


Posted by: DL Sly at April 14, 2009 06:59 PM

Post a comment

To reduce comment spam, comments on older posts are put into moderation 5 days after the last activity. Comments with more than one link also go into moderation. If you don't see your comment after posting it, try refreshing the screen. If you still don't see it, your comment is probably in the moderation queue.

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)