Tuesday, November 20

Turning Learning into Limonata

While in the USA for Thanksgiving, I’ve had the privilege of being invited for lunch at my nephews’ school. And while being regaled by the 6 yr. olds breaking into the Gobble Gobble Turkey Trot, back at home, I learned that something even more insidious was being brainwashed into our little ones’ heads: UNADULTERATED CAPITALISM. In something quite frighteningly reminiscent of Brave New World, it looks like while in Europe, our Nike-clad kids & parents take to the streets protesting “globalization” (something I’ve never quite grasped, to be perfectly honest…I mean, they don’t like dishwashers or pcs??), America is busy hard-wiring kids into what it takes to be a true blue-blooded capitalist.

I remember when my niece was about 7, she conducted a marketing survey with all my friends (via email, no less), asking at what price point she should be offering her lemonade. She then had to produce a report on her findings, set up the stand, and sell her stuff. In Italy, parents would have pulled their children inside their Mercedes’ faster than you could say "limonata" to avoid the Brutta Figura in front of the neighbors: What?! You want people to think we’re needy??!!!

Now in 7th grade, my niece’s class has formed a MINI SOCIETY in which they decide on products to produce, warehouse and sell. They give them mini business plans like a TARGET MARKET LOCATOR PLANNING GUIDE, BUSINESS CARD TEMPLATES, and MARKET SURVEYS. My niece’s group, would then set out to produce and sell their products on Auction Day. Post-sales, they would have to deduct the fixed and variable expenses of rental & advertising space, posters, warehousing and even consulting services. In a nod to the country of indefatigable entrepreneurs (or was it Starbucks?) they named their group, ‘Cappuccino City’.

Now, I’m not familiar with what goes on in Italian schools, and regardless, we all know that on average, Italian kids are far more educated than their American counterparts (who rank somewhere near Albania), despite the complaints we see in the daily papers. But, an exercise of this nature, I have never heard of.

In fact, I shiver at the thought of an Italian correspondent program: whereby the first thing they do is offer their real money & other treats to School Council members in order to guarantee a prime location in the school cafeteria, purchase licenses some of whom get denied because they didn’t pay off the principal, skip the marketing survey part, and then charge exorbitant prices for their goods. One group of bullies doesn’t sell anything but is still the richest. They’re busy getting paid the ‘pizzo’ and avoiding taxes. After hiring their employees, they can never fire them, even after being caught stealing from the coffers. But it doesn't matter. They'd have to close down their booths due to the strikes. The rest of the class doesn't show up because the buses didn't arrive on time. And those who are able to buy the item and find it breaks? No refunds permitted.
Now that would be truly educational.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

viva america!! and the capitalistic nature that goes with it.

happy turkey day tucc.
xo c.

Elizabeth Abbot said...

Wow. I recently had to defend US education from the accusation that all kids learn is how to produce and consume. I guess he was right!

Francesca Maggi said...

Allow me to give you a few talking points... While America's excesses, are, well, excessive...I'd still rather have our kids learning about companies, money, society & responsibility rather than how to depend on a welfare state, mommy & daddy as income, & jobs for life, regardless of their profitability.
If Americans stopped consuming, the world economy would come to a screeching halt. Not to mention that America has given the world its greatest philanthropists, from the Rockefellers to the Gates'. George Soros has given away over $5 Billion of his money. Agnelli? Berlusconi? Their ilk buys art and builds villas in Tunisia. Of course, Americans are always faulted for their 'capitalistic' ways...and, we eat our babies besides.

Francesca Maggi said...

Not even 1 month later, my prediction came true! Today's paper reported from the Treviso Gazzette that a middle school kid was expelled from running for Mayor of Student Council. Why? He was offering telefonino recharges & treats in exchange for votes!!! Looks like he'll have a bright career.

Michele said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michele said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michele said...
This comment has been removed by the author.