Posts Tagged ‘economics’
Whether you are catching up on your reading at the beach, attending a few professional development conferences, or enjoying the many perks of spring break life (including but not limited to waking up and changing into a new pair of pajamas for the day), you will find great minds blogging about fascinating topics.
Although sitting around on the couch all day seems unproductive, Joel came up with 50 Online Reference Sites for Teachers over at So You Want To Teach?. After watching a a John Stossel program, John Holland got out of his pajams and wrote False Alarm: It’s Only John Stossel posted at Inside Pre-K.
Larry Ferlazzo made sure that his movie watching had educational value and posted The Best Places To Find Theatrical Movies On Science, Math, & History at Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites Of The Day For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL.
At the beach, John Holland (Inside Pre-K) is sipping colorful drinks and explaining the “accountability for preschoolers in MD” from his Explanation Provided? post. Michael Mazenko (A Teacher’s View) continues the debate he started on his Home Ec Returns post after tossing a frisbee on the beach.
SwitchedOnMom opted for professional development and a conference where she experienced Jay Mathews – Live! (The “More” Child). At another conference about higher education, Jim presented a talk on How to Navigate the College Financial Aid System (Blueprnt for Financial Prosperity) and Nate Desmond explained 12 Ways to Waste Money in College (Debt-free Scholar). Dana gave a presentation about her b-school experiences In Search of Sustainable Careers – 5 Reasons Why I Would Not Go Back to Business School (Investoralist) saying, “Do business school lead to sustainable careers? Some points to consider in face of global financial chaos.”
During a trip to DC, Matthew Ladner debates policy wonks about The Rhetorical Rights and Wrongs of the Obama Speech (Jay P. Greene’s Blog). Bradley Shea of bradley shea.com defends his views about The Need For Breakfast Clubs. After a visit to the White House, Bill Ferriter spoke about The Impact of Market Norms on Education. . . posted at The Tempered Radical, saying, “In this post, the Tempered Radical responds to Barack Obama’s recent pleas to young Americans to serve their nation by working in classrooms. “That’s just plain beautiful,” the Radical writes. “There’s one problem, though: Education has gone through a painful transition in the past two decades, from a profession driven by social norms to one driven by market norms.”
Scott McLeod presents Help wanted: Sites that connect classrooms across the globe? posted at Dangerously Irrelevant, saying, “A growing collection of places that allow teachers to connect their classrooms to others across the globe!”
After attending a debate tournament with students, Soldave presents Preparing students for English speech & debate contests posted at Big in Japan.
At a local library, Kim of Wild About Nature gives a book talk entitled Book Review: One Wolf Howls. After a tutoring session, Bogusia Gierus Nucleus Learning explains why Tutoring is like a GPS | Nucleus Learning. From a computer lab, Travis A. Wittwer presents TECH & TE(A)CH posted at Stories from School: Practice meets Policy.
At a delightful park picnic, Joanne Jacobs muses that The revolution is not a picnic (posted at Joanne Jacobs). Andrew Bernardin passes the sandwiches and edits his Jacks of All Topics, Masters of None post which is now at The Evolving Mind.
Mrs. Bluebird tries to relax after A Rant – Casting Off Accessories, Teacher Accountability and the Reality of Our World posted at Bluebird’s Classroom, saying, “Mrs. Bluebird is fed up with parents who aren’t parenting.”NerdMom presents Technology, Education and Life posted at Nerd Family.
While cleaning out a bookcase in a classroom, Clix pondered reading and posted SSR times at Epic Adventures Are Often Uncomfortable, saying, “As we struggle through difficulties in the classroom, it can be helpful to remember that other great heroes also faced near-impossible challenges, and even triumphed!”. Pat also spent time in her classroom and thought about classroom management. The resulting post is Catch Them Doing the Right Thing at Successful Teaching. Adding to the classroom management discussion is Jim McGuire. He presents Where Does Hard Work Come From? posted at The Reading Workshop, saying, “What causes students to work hard? This post takes a look at students’ work ethic.”
Madeleine Begun Kane uses her break to indulge a writing habit. The result is A Robot Violinist That Plays Better Than Your Kid? posted at Mad Kane’s Humor Blog. TeacherC does the same and produces a narrative entitled On Mercy Killing in the First Grade (or, how I stopped worrying and learned to appreciate punch lines) at An (aspiring) Educator’s Blog. Mike Holden shares Part 1: What is happening with teaching jobs? posted at DoE- Dave on Ed. Miss Profe writes about past experiences with students in Número Uno posted at Pensamientos.
That concludes COE Spring Break. Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of education using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page. There were many submissions to this carnival. If your post did not make it to the midway, please try again next time!
Imagine a race where everyone is trying to lose. Races to the bottom are a bit more complex than this scenario but the outcome is the same: instead of competition yielding the best outcomes, competition clamors around second-rate outcomes. Races to the bottom occur when the perception is that sub-par outcomes can yield benefits or when the voices of those who experience costs are left out of decision-making.
Most economics and political science textbooks give examples from competition surrounding international workers rights or environmental laws. When one country eliminates or decreases the penalties for violations of these laws, a competition ensues between countries to do the same, because business flows to countries with less regulations, transaction costs, and taxes. This leads to a situation where countries are vying to have less protections for the environment and their workers – they are racing to the bottom.
There are many school-based examples of races to the bottom I could talk about in this post (No Child Left Behind, Teach for America, etc). I’m going to focus on handraising because I’ve been thinking about it for awhile.
A few days ago, I was sitting in a class about policies and practices of English language learners. We were having a discussion about equitable participation in class. My instructor asked “what is the definition of engagement you use in your classroom?”. One of my colleagues had a brilliant (and slightly terrifying) answer. She said: “Engagement is when students care about the direction and process of their own learning“. I believe her definition because I’m a constructivist: I think that children construct their own knowledge when they encounter experiences that intrigue and challenge them. My colleague’s idea is brilliant and terrifying because of the standards many of us use to measure engagement and learning in our classrooms. We ask questions and look for raised hands. I’ve observed many elementary classrooms over the past few months. Teachers are nervous when no one raises their hand to answer questions and satisfied when students do. I’m not entirely sure how raised hands and spoken answers correlate to learning. Did the student already know the answer? Does it help students to listen to the answers of their peers when the teacher determines truth? It seems like there is a dual race to the bottom happening. Many teachers settle for raised hands at the expense of allowing learning processes to occur that are less teacher-controlled and have less “obvious” evidence of outcomes. Students create norms and power structures of their own. Some try to have the right answer to please the teacher. Many assign “smart” and “dumb” labels based on their peers’ handraising. They see handraising as part of the game of school rather than part of their learning process.
I’m not saying we should eliminate all questioning and handraising from our classrooms. Of course there are provocative questions, student-centered discussion formats, and other tools of our trade that resemble traditional handraising but have different outcomes.
Do you think handraising is a race to the bottom? How do you define engagement in your classroom?
Imagine: My friends and I are at an all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant celebrating a tournament win. We are stuffed to capacity and cringe at the thought of putting another piece of food in our mouths. An uneaten roll taunts us from the table. The sushi can’t be wrapped up and taken home. We do what the average American would do -the ladies are spared as the big guys at the table eat themselves to near-sickness. Their argument for eating the last roll is that they would not get the full value of their initial payment if they didn’t. To my surprise – they finish the roll on the table and order a few more. Then dessert. Then someone throws up.
This episode occurred before I took my first economics course. An understanding of sunk cost may have helped our over-eaters make better decisions.
Wikipedia entry on sunk cost:
In economics and in business decision-making, sunk costs are costs that have been incurred and which cannot be recovered to any significant degree…Economics proposes that a rational actor does not let sunk costs influence one’s decisions, because doing so would not be assessing a decision exclusively on its own merits….For example, when one pre-orders a non-refundable movie ticket, the price of the ticket becomes a sunk cost. Even if the ticket-buyer decides that he would rather not go to the movie, there is no way to get back the money he originally paid.
When we saw the roll on the dinner table we had two options:
1. Eat the roll – causing discomfort.
2. Let the roll go (and learn not to waste food in the future by ordering smaller portions).
No matter which option is chosen – we have already incurred the cost of the meal. Therefore, the information about the price we have already paid is irrelevant. A rational actor would choose the option that provides the greatest happiness (utility). In our case, leaving the roll on the table with a big tip and going home with a “I just ate sushi” glow on our faces, would have been a much better alternative to leaving an even bigger tip after a watching friend throw up in a restaurant.
I’ve been taught never to waste anything (especially food) – I’ve been known to use questionable bread for French Toast, pick brown pieces of lettuce off out of the bag, and prefer information from a “smell test” to to written expiration dates. My knowledge of sunk costs has helped me realize that I should buy less and order smaller portion sizes to avoid these situations altogether. Sunk costs should be barriers to entry – people should think about costs that cannot be recovered no matter what course of action is taken and factor that into their decision-making. In situations where I have to make the choice to suffer or let it go – I’ve learned to just let it go.
This concept can be applied to other situations:
- Choosing whether or not to go to a lame party after you’ve bought the non-refundable tickets and attire.
- Deciding to downgrade to Windows XP after buying Vista (I offer my sympathy to Windows users who have to make these tough decisions…).
- Exiting the Iraq War
My nephew (age 12) had an existential crisis the other day. He wants to be a musician or a writer but is stressed out because “all of the good ideas are already taken”. I decided to spare him four years of rigorous economics coursework and told him about the most important economics lesson I’ve learned – the second-mover advantage:
Second-mover advantage occurs when a firm who follows the lead of the first-mover is actually able to capture greater market share, despite having entered late.
First-mover firms often face high research and development costs and the marketing costs necessary to educate the public about a new type of product. A second-mover firm can learn from the experiences of the first mover firm and may not face such high research and development costs if they are able create their own similar product using existing technology. A second-mover firm also does not face the marketing task of having to educate the public about the new project because the first mover has already done so. As a result, the second-mover can use its resources to focus on making a superior product or out-marketing the first mover…the notion that winners are always the first to enter the market is a misconception. (Wikipedia entry)
Examples include Obama (vs. Hillary), Nintendo (vs. Atari), Oprah (vs. Donahue), and AMD (vs. Intel). Second-movers are able to capitalize on the work done by others and create innovative products at a lower cost. The “early bird may catch the worm” but later birds can dominate marketing and distribution.
Think different? No: Observe first. Think second.