I love money. I love making it and spending it. Our world is great because of money. It makes the world go round. Without money, we have nothing. (Disclaimer: The preceding comments are not ideas held by the author of this blog. However, the world is fueled by capitalism and money, which means that these ideas, in essence, are held by most American citizens.) In order for capitalism to work, we need investors, buyers, sellers, and people who love money. From an early age, we are taught that money makes or breaks you; money is good and we should want it at any cost. In retrospect, it’s quite scary to think that these ideas are shoved down our throat at such an early age before we are able to think for ourselves and make effective decisions. Despite this, we must accept that this is the world in which we live, and so therefore, we need to prepare our students accordingly.
Today in STEM class, the students began working on the Stock Market Game unit. They spent most of the double-block researching stocks on Google Finance. They found companies they were interested in for various reasons and began investing their $100,000 of pretend money. I haven’t seen the boys this excited before, with the exception of the last day of classes prior to winter break. They were ecstatic about watching a movie and making gingerbread houses instead of having normal classes like the other grades. They got right to work with their partners today as they researched stocks, investigated the various indices of publically traded companies, and worked together to accomplish a task. The students demonstrated effective communication and coexistence skills. They had smiles on their faces and were so excited every time they happened upon a stock that was going up. They learned about stock symbols, mutual funds, and trends without even realizing it. They were so fueled by competition and the capitalistic values of our society that they did the required hard work because it seemed like fun. Ha ha, I fooled them yet again. They had fun learning about the complex system that is the stock market. They were so driven to do well that they researched mutual funds and penny stocks. It’s nice to know that capitalism is alive and well in the sixth grade classroom.
While I tend to be a bit jaded by our world and it’s negative morals, being aware of how capitalism works and how the stock market functions are crucial skills needed to be an effective global citizen. Plus, I’ve been wanting to complete a unit on the stock market for years now, to no avail. So I jumped at the opportunity when it was presented to me. The boys were so excited to research stocks, invest pretend money, document their findings, and make transactions using real-time stock market stats. It was so much fun watching them get caught up in the pipe dreams of becoming millionaires. Although my students were totally engaged in STEM class today and will spend much of their free time over the next several weeks trading and buying stocks, I worry that I’m helping brainwash future generations into believing that having and earning money is the only path to success. Nah, I must be overanalyzing the situation. Money is great, or is that what I was trained to think. Ahh, I’m so confused. Well, at least my students are having fun playing the stock market game and learning about how the world really works.