“Rigged” irony

If he does not win the presidential election, Donald Trump said it will be because the political system is rigged. From the day of his birth, Trump has benefited from the rigged system we call capitalism. Here is my suggestion for how educators can teach about the extent to which capitalism is rigged.

We all played Monopoly as children. Teachers should teach economics by having students play Monopoly for short periods over the course of the year. Instead of starting with the same amount of Monopoly money, however, each student would start with the amount of money in inverse proportion to his/her family’s wealth. Poor students would be given the number of dollars that corresponds to starting as a wealthy family; and students in wealthy families, would be given the number of dollars that corresponds to starting as a poor family. Then — roll the dice.

Where are the economics professors interested in creating an algorithm teachers could use to make sure poor students get the Monopoly advantages experienced by wealthy families and wealthy students get the Monopoly disadvantages experienced by poor families? I am giving this idea to anybody who wants to create the algorithm. The profits are yours.

Furthermore, students would learn a lot from this data-driven approach to teaching. I love irony. (The irony, of course, is that no superintendent or school board would allow this game to be played, even though it is a “data-driven” approach to learning — what they claim to want.)


#1 Mark Steger on 08.30.16 at 2:22 pm

Similarly, I’ve long thought that a way to teach the idea behind affirmative action would be Monopoly. Start a game. After a half hour or so, in other words, after all the properties are in players’ hands, bring in a new player or two. See how well they do starting from scratch. If they complain about the game being unfair, tell them that everyone is playing by the same rules. Tell them that giving the newcomers special favors wouldn’t be fair to the original players.

#2 casey on 09.22.16 at 11:37 pm

That’s a good one, Mark. Maybe something productive will come from all those hours playing, Life and Monopoly in your garage on Washington St. Are there any teachers already using Monopoly or other games to teach important lessons about American life? Please comment.

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