Policy Perspectives on Medicare
Economic concepts are often found in places students have never considered, like children’s literature. In this lesson, students will explore the various economic concepts addressed in five of Dr. Seuss' most popular books: The Cat in the Hat; Green Eggs and Ham; The Lorax; Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and Horton Hears a Who!
Most students should be familiar with Dr. Seuss from reading of his popular books during childhood. The author has found that students are very excited to link economics and Dr. Seuss based on their fond memories of his stories. This lesson provides an important teachable moments – economics is all around us, often in places we would have never considered!
Asymmetric information: a situation occurring when all parties involved in a market transaction do not have access to the same relevant information. This is one potential source of market failure.
Leisure: a portion of a person’s time that is not being compensated for work.
Economies of Scale: the property of long-run average total cost decreasing as quantity of output increases.
Inefficiency: occurs when people are not receiving the most possible satisfaction from a given amount of resources.
Shirking: when it is too costly or difficult to monitor an individual worker’s behavior, then worker’s will have incentive to do less work (or put forth less effort) than agreed.
Collective Action: is the pursuit of a goal (or goals) by more than one person. In economics, it is often used in discussion of public goods and externalities.
Risk: the calculated probability of either a gain or a loss happening.
Uncertainty: the possibility that any number of things could happen in the future. Usually discussed along with risk, which attempts to assign probabilities of a certain event occurring.
Day 1 and 2
[NOTE: Suggested answers per Miller and Watts:
As student answers will vary, go over any of the suggested answers that were not address. Additionally, prompt class discussion by asking the students where else economics can be found that they may not have considered. [Answers will vary.]
You could also bring examples of other children’s literature that illustrate economic concepts so the students realize economic concepts can be found in books other than Dr. Seuss.
1. Benny’s Pennies by Pat Brisson (ISBN-13: 978-0440410164) [scarcity, choice, goods, wants, consumers]
2. Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst (ISBN-13: 978-0689711992 [money, opportunity cost, spending, saving, income, banks, interest]
3. Saturday Sancocho by Leyla Torres (ISBN-13: 978-0374464516) [barter, coincidences of wants, exchange, money]
Freakonomics the movie is available for purchase on iTunes or through their official movie site, and comes out on DVD 1/19/11. You could show this movie to illustrate how economics is all around us, even in places we would not expect.
Ask the students choose one of the economic principles found in their assigned Seuss book and find a corresponding news article illustrating the same concept. Have them write a one-page paper summarizing the article, defining the economic concept in their own words, and explaining how the economic concept is illustrated in the article. Alternatively, instead of limiting to the medium to just an article you may allow the students to choose any contemporary medium such as an advertisement, song lyrics, poem, or movie.