February 6, 2011
If we accept the premise that our US school system is teaching our children to be good little socialists, then we must accept the need to teach them how socialism works in a way that they can relate to personally. Socialism, in the abstract, seems like a good idea until human nature is applied and the changes maturate.
For this exercise we need to assume we have a class of 45 college aged students. This exercise isn’t about capitalism being good or bad, nor is it about socialism being good or bad, it’s about human nature.
On the first day of class ask the students to choose between capitalism and socialism. Don’t define the terms, just ask the students to choose based on their understanding of how the two systems work. Create two lists of students, those whose grades will reflect their efforts (capitalists) and those who wish to share their success or failure in the class (socialists).
Each time a paper is due, grade the papers and record the grades. Before passing the papers back to the students, change the grade on the papers for those who chose socialism to reflect the average of all the class’s socialist students, marking through the earned grade with a single horizontal line and noting the new averaged grade on the head of the paper.
With the averaging, some of the grades will improve, some of the grades will fall. Return the papers to the students. If someone asks why their grade was changed, explain their paper was graded using socialistic principals where everything is shared.
The averaged grade of some of the socialist students will show a gradual decrease over the length of the class. This is a reflection of the human nature element. Some students, seeing their grade improve with the averaging will do less and less studying because their grade no longer reflects the effort they put into study and research. This pulls down the average grade for the entire group of socialist students over the course of the class. For the less mindful students, getting this class’s work done will become less important because other students’ efforts will cushion them from the results of their lack of effort. The students studying and working hard to get a good grade will see their grade negatively impacted by the less motivated students.
When the class is over, give each socialist student two final grades, one that truly reflects the work they did in the class and one that reflects the grade they would have received under a socialistic system. The students who worked hard to understand and absorb the class subject will be relieved to see their grade reflects the work they did. Those who coasted on others’ efforts will see their grade reflects their true effort. Their final grade will be less than they had come to expect.
Explain to the students what happened over the course of the class using a chart to show the change in the average grade of the socialist students compared to the average grade of the capitalist students.
This exercise is a reflection of what is happening in the call for distribution of wealth. Those who have worked hard to improve their condition want to keep what they’ve worked hard for. Those who don’t have the skill or inclination to work hard won’t try to get ahead by their own effort. They will want to improve their life by sharing in the efforts of others.
Now do a final poll of the students. Who wants to remain a capitalist and who wants to become a socialist. Publish the result.