Monday, August 20, 2012

Who do I sit with at lunch? An Economic choice

In my school district, 4th graders begin the year with an economic unit that guides students to consider choices, opportunity costs, and incentives.  In most classrooms, students are doing work and using graphic organizers to show how they might process their choices.

As I was reading the Fall 2011 issue of Teaching Tolerance, my interest gravitated towards the article on Mix It Up Day.  
For those of you who do not know about Mix It Up Day, check it out (  The goal of the day is to help kids step out of their comfort zone at lunch and spend lunch with new peers or getting to know someone new.  

Brilliant, I say...but how often do we lecture and encourage kids about getting to know others in their peer group?  How often do we make them part of the learning so they begin to understand why it might be enjoyable, and important, to sit with someone new at lunch?  Rarely!

What I'm suggesting is that we pose questions to students related to embracing diversity at lunch.  Those questions are sprinkled with concepts of economics (choice, opportunity cost, incentive) and community concepts of unity/diversity.  By creating the questions and inviting students to think about the benefits of this experience, they are the ones who do the learning and develop the ideas connected with this experience.  (What are the advantages/incentives/disadvantages of sitting with the same peers daily during lunch?  What are the advantages/incentives/disadvantages of sitting with different peers during lunch?)  In so doing, they embrace the experience and they learn something about themselves and how they can make choices to interact with a broader range of peers.  When students are done with the learning, they'd be the perfect group to organize a Mix It Up Day at their school. Two stone...great learning and a major life lesson about embracing diversity!  

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