Stephanie Pearce: The American Dream, Part 2 — examining Common Core
Last week I presented you with the beginnings of a lesson plan on capitalism and socialism. I was concerned that lessons like this are helping move our country farther away from the ideals that I consider “The American Dream.”
After asking the kids which society they would rather live in and asking them to write their answers with reasons why, the teacher was to write on the board the definitions of capitalism and socialism. They are as follows:
■ Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods, characterized by a free competitive market and motivated by profit; in other words, an economy where money is used to make more money.
■ Socialism is a political theory or system in which the means of distribution are controlled by the government and people and operated according to equity and fairness rather than market principles; in other words, a system of government where owners share profits with workers.
When I looked up the definitions in the Merriam Webster Dictionary they looked a little different. They were as follows.
■ Capitalism: a way of organizing an economy so that the things that are used to make and transport products (such as land, oil, factories, ships, etc.) are owned by individual people and companies rather than by the government.
■ Socialism: a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies.
Do you see the difference in the definitions? The ones that were provided in the lesson plans were skewed slightly to emotion. The lesson plan writer’s opinions of what the definitions mean to them were added at the end.
The author of this lesson plan, in my opinion, is making socialism look like a wonderful, happy time of sharing where all things are equal and fair. They make capitalism, in my opinion, look like an evil economic system based on pure greed. They use a little bit of fact and a lot of emotion to present this lesson.
Lesson 2 starts out with a hand out on Laissez-Faire — supply and demand. The children are introduced to Adam Smith, some of his writings and how they play a role in capitalism.
It starts out talking about what Smith studied and gave talks on. It mentions in the piece how Smith started focusing more of his talks on jurisprudence and economy and “less to his theories of morals.” At first I let this slide, but I came back to it again and again. I felt the author wanted to convey, again, that Smith and his ideas were less than moral.
The piece went on to talk about how influential his work, The Wealth of Nations, was on economics. It also stated how Smith believed that nothing should “interfere with the natural balance between supply and demand.” He believed that government shouldn’t make laws on how the economy should be run, but rather, it would take care of itself.
The last paragraph of the paper talked about all the negative effects his system had on employees. Wages were determined by the employer and conditions of the work environment were deplorable. The last sentence says “So for obvious reasons ‘Laissez-Faire’ was more popular with the employers than the employees.”
Again, I felt like the teaching of capitalism had been slighted with opinion. Yes, there were problems with labor conditions, but it didn’t share the positive effects that this economic system had either. All sides need to be shown.
Watch for my third installment next week where I present to you what is to be taught on socialism and how I think it helps to decay our American Dream.
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