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Do you remember yourself…
June 14, 2008, 3:57 am
Filed under: Econ, The Internets | Tags: , ,

…in third grade?

I remember myself. I was in Mrs. Burnett’s class and I sat next to my biggest crush of all time. (He made my heart flutter from 1st through 5th grade. He now goes to UVA. He’s still incredibly smart, good- looking, and single. I’m no longer interested, alas.)

I knew stuff in third grade; I was smart. That was the year that I found out what “bite me” meant. That was the year that I figured out that if I was only in Girl Scouts for the cookies, maybe I should quit. So why is it that Matt Yglesias thinks it’s a bad idea to have a little econ on the 3rd grade VA SOL (Standards of Learning) test? In fact, the concept in question that he sites from another blog is opportunity cost.

He says that most adults don’t understand this concept! Whether that is true or not is kind of besides the point. I don’t remember most of the chemistry that I had to know for the 10th grade SOLs only 4 years ago. Further more, opportunity cost is not really a difficult concept, especially when considering what the VA Department of Education has determined as the benchmark for third graders.

3.9 The student will identify examples of making an economic choice and will explain the idea of opportunity cost (what is given up when making a choice).

Now, I’m really the last person to defend the SOLs. Having taken many SOLs, I think they merely determine a student’s ability to take a test rather than their knowledge of a subject. However, seeing as they do exist, I think it’s best to make them as challenging as is appropriate. Choice and the consequences of choice are not all that abstract of ideas. I don’t think it’s a concept too difficult for 3rd graders especially when you consider that their understanding only has to extend to being able to answer one or two multiple choice questions.

The 3rd grade benchmark that I find more interesting is this little gem:

3.12 The student will recognize that Americans are a people of diverse ethnic origins, customs, and traditions, who are united by the basic principles of a republican form of government and respect for individual rights and freedoms.

Perhaps sometimes.

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