And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart. And you shall teach them to your sons and speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk on the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:7
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. —Proverbs 22:6
I came across this on a Ron Paul Homeschool Website https://fee.org/media/5708/20130707_economicsforboysandgirlscorrectorderleonardread.pdf
While it purports to be an lesson plan to each economics, it is rather a lesson plan on how to teach Christianity. thinly veiled as an economic lesson.
Never-the-less, the lessons are still valid and worth considering.
1. If you drop something, pick it up.
This is easily taught, especially by parents who observe this dictum themselves.
It is training in assuming a responsibility for one’s own actions, that is, of not burdening others with one’s behaviors. Children who take this simple first step in self-control— should the steps continue and become habitual—will likely, when attaining adulthood, look to themselves rather than to the rest of us to bail them out of economic difficulties brought on by their own mistakes. They will, more than likely, not be a burden on society. (I find it interesting here that a Christian view of others is that others are a “burden on society.” Is that how Jesus saw those that for whatever reasons made mistakes, as burdens of society? Just saying. However, I do agree that taking responsibility is an important trait to master.)
A genuine mastery of self-control tends to develop a rare and valuable faculty: the ability to will one’s own actions: Such a person will not be tempted to shift his position by reason of pressures, fickle opinions, popular notions, and the like. He will become his own man.
Picking up what you drop has its reward in orderliness of mind. When it becomes second nature, it is a joyous habit and on occasion leads to picking up after others. Projected into adult life, this shows up as a charitable attitude—in the Judeo-Christian sense—one’s personal duty toward the less fortunate.
2. If you open a door, close it.
This is a sequel to the above; it is merely another practice that confirms the wisdom of completing each of life’s transactions.
3. If you make a promise, keep it.
Social chaos has no better ally than broken promises. Children not brought up to keep their word will be the authors of contracts written not to be observed; they’ll apply for jobs on bogus resumes, use the political connects to benefit themselves over the community; they’ll sell their souls to gain fame or fortune or power.
Not only will they fail to be honest with their fellow men; they will not even heed the dictates of their own conscience. On the other hand, children brought up to keep their promises will not go back on their bond, come hell or high water. Integrity will be their mark of distinction!
4. Whatever you borrow, pay back.
This is an extension of promise keeping. An adherence to these admonitions develops a respect for private property, a major premise in sound economic doctrine. No person, thus brought up, would think of feathering his own nest at the expense of others. Welfare statists and social planners are not born of this training, that is, if the training really sinks in. True, a socialist will honor debts incurred in his own name but will disregard any indebtedness he sponsors in the name of “the public.” He has not been brought up to understand that the principle of compensation applies “across the board.” (These points about “welfare statists,” “social planners,” and “socialists,” are interesting in that they are so pejorative. They also are great examples of how easy it is for Christians to construct a negative narrative of a vague class of people, simply to prop up a Christian narrative.”)
5. Play the thank-you game.
It will take a brilliant parent and a mighty perceptive child to get anywhere with this one. I can set forth the idea but not how to teach it. The idea, once grasped, is simple enough, yet so evasive that, in spite of the 33,000 years since Cro-Magnon man, it was only discovered a bare century ago: The value of a good or service is determined not objectively by cost of production, but subjectively by what others will give in willing exchange. Economic science has no more important concept than this; the free market has no other economic genesis than this subjective or marginal utility theory of value. Indeed, it is most accurately identified as the free market theory of value.
When mother exchanges 30¢ for a can of beans, she values the beans more than the 30¢ and the grocer values the 30¢ more than the beans. If mother valued the 30¢ more than the beans, she wouldn’t trade. If the grocer valued his beans more than the 30¢, he wouldn’t trade. The value of both the 30¢ and the beans (excluding other considerations) is determined by the two subjective judgments. The amount of effort exerted (cost) to obtain the 30¢ or to acquire the beans has nothing to do with the value of either the beans or the 30¢.
I repeat, the value of any good or service is determined by what it will bring in willing, not forcible or unwilling exchange. (TVA, Post Office, and a thousand and one other deficits, are paid or by forcible exchange. Moon specialists are paid by forcible, not willing, exchange. This goes, also, for all governmental subsidies.) (This addition of “government forcibly taking” is an interesting perspective here. I understand why it is for Rand Paul, but why is this a Christian value? This is important and needs a lot more discussion.)
This concept of value, be it remembered, was practiced off and on by the common man ages before economic theorists identified it as the efficacious way of mutually advancing economic well-being. And, by the same token, children can be taught to practice it before they can possibly grasp the theory. In exchanging toys or marbles or jacks or whatever with another, they should play the thank-you game? They can be taught to express the same “thank you” themselves as they expect from their playmate? That both have gained when each says, “Thank you”? Accomplish this with a boy or girl and you have laid the groundwork for sound economic thinking.
6. Do nothing to a playmate you wouldn’t enjoy having him do to you.
Moral philosophy is the investigation into and the study of what’s right and wrong. Economics is a division of this discipline: the study of right and wrong in economic affairs.
The free market is the Golden Rule in its economic application, thus free market economics is dependent on the practice of the Golden Rule.
That the Golden Rule can be phrased and taught so as to be completely perceived prior to adolescence is doubtful. Its apprehension requires a moral nature, a faculty rarely acquired earlier than teen-age—in many instances, never!
But the effort to teach the Golden Rule to boys and girls will, at a minimum, result in a better observation of it on the parent’s part. Children—highly impressionable—are far more guided by parental conduct than by parental admonishments. Thus, the attempt to teach this fundamental principle of morality and justice, resulting in highly exemplary behavior, may lead the child first to imitation and then to habitual observance and practice.