PDF Lesson Plans Freakonomics

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A basic lesson plan includes an introduction of the point and an example. Ask students to think of their own examples and discuss them. Provide contrasting examples for the class to discuss in groups. These can be examples in the book or original ones that you feel relate to the subject. Finish the lesson by assigning a mini-essay. This engages older students in the ideas of the class and makes them think about the true meaning of each chapter.


  • Genealogical and family history of central New York : a record of the achievements of her people in the making of a commonwealth and the building of a nation (1912).
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  • How to Use "Freakonomics" in the Classroom | Synonym.

For younger students, grades 6 to 12, consider worksheets or quizzes. Mark Wollacott began writing professionally in He has freelanced for "Kansai Time Out" and "Kansai Scene" magazines and he has also worked for Travelocity and the Austin Post, writing about travel, business and technology.

Wollacott has a Bachelor of Arts in ancient history and archaeology from the University of Wales. The database based on Word Net is a lexical database for the English Language. See disclaimer. Levitt and Steven J. Dubner's Freakonomics doesn't so much explore the hidden side of everything as challenge the angle at which we view it all. Like the poor fool in Plato's cave, they offer to show how much of our reality is but a shadow.

Teaching Freakonomics

With a tilt of the head, things can be seen clearly, the Freakonomic way. Once upon a time, a daycare was plagued with late pickups. Notes were sent home, making the case for timely pick up in the name of respect for those who had to stay with the children, the children themselves. No change. Another note was sent home. A financial penalty for late pickups would start effective immediately. The result?


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Late pickups increased exponentially. The guilt had been removed and the financial penalty was so low the late pick-up was now a parental perk that was accessible to most of the families. Sumo wrestlers earn their living based on their ranking. The rankings are set by a series of matches that allow agreements between players to distribute higher standards of living to more wrestlers without sacrificing any individual ranking. Teachers succeed or fail based on standardized tests that often have nothing to do with daily lessons. It isn't hard to grasp the negative incentive of the potential loss in much needed financial support to their school, not to mention individual job loss or demotion.

Freakonomics ideas flourish in the classroom

The conclusion a significant number of teachers arrived at was to drive up scores, even if it meant cheating. People are asked to drop a buck in a jar to pay for their bagel in the break room. The incentive to be honest is self-imposed, to be honest. The results? The more you earn, the more likely you are to take without paying; the worse the weather, the less likely anyone is to pay; Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Valentine's Day all show lower pay rates than their July 4th and President's Day brethren.

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Freakonomics Quizzes | GradeSaver

When there is asymmetry of power - on the one hand there is someone who knows or is thought to know considerably more than another - the ability to awe, intimidate, lie, or otherwise affect the outcome of a decision is vast. Comparing the price of insurance allowed prices to remain high, until the internet made it possible to comparison shop. When love lives moved from real life to the internet, what was once known up-front became information reported on the honor system.

No matter how many women check the box declaring they don't care about height, income, weight, or race, it would seem they ultimately date the party line, as it were. When a civil rights activist tried to bring down the local chapter of the KKK by legal means he failed.

Freakonomics Lesson Plans for Teachers

But when he found out their secret passwords and names and published them in the local newspaper, and was able to continue doing so no matter how often they changed them, the chapter went belly up. When a study was done on real estate brokers about discrepancies between the selling prices of houses they owned and those they did not, the assumption was the incentive of profit would be paramount.

The information they held on to allowed them to leave houses on the market longer and get higher numbers on homes they owned. Information is so powerful that the assumption of information, even if the information does not actually exist, can have a sobering effect. As the authors ask, have you ever wondered why, if drug dealers make so much money, they live in the projects with their moms? A sociologist given an all-access pass to a Chicago drug gang's methods, accounting notebooks, and spent time on the corners, in the homes, and at the jail door.

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner - Superfreakonomics

His findings? Only the very top makes any real money, most workers below that have to take second jobs to make ends meet. The mid level dealers have to contend with the day-to-day troubles of working with the public and have no control over quality or presentation of the goods. Good will in communities is engendered by throw-away and cheap gestures like neighborhood parties and paying small death stipends to bereaved families.

The majority of the work is done by people who earn nothing, receive no benefits, have no job security, and feel they have nowhere else to go for work. Sound familiar? When experts, presumptive or real, rely on not knowing, failure to fully grasp, or intimidation in the face of possible expertise to make their case, there is not a lot they can't accomplish. They can declare those who maintain a "family bed" the only parents who really care, after decades of advocating a parenting style that nurtures self-reliance and self-soothing.

They can suggest the sophistication of the music heard during pregnancy will affect the intelligence of the not-yet-born, while staring at data that establishes intelligence is one of those largely biological things that can only be brought down, and that by neglect or outright abuse. And sell a whole lot of Mozart for the Womb CDs.

Information allows fear to be leveraged, and there are few groups out there who are more ready to be pushed around than today's parents.