Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Pencil - A Simple Lesson in Economics

Source: Competitive Enterprise Institute
The pencil is a simple "technology" compared to today’s tablet computers and smart phones. It looks easy to make such an uncomplicated tool. After all it's only wood, graphite and rubber, right? Not exactly.

The pencil, although much less complex to operate, takes a "village" to manufacture. The film I, Pencil: The Movie by the Competitive Enterprise Institute is based on a 1958 essay by Leonard E. Read and explains this multifaceted process and the network of people needed.

This animated film is a lesson in economics and collaboration. It's perfect for helping students understand the interdependence in producing manufactured goods in a free market economy and can be used at any grade level. Watching it will change the way they think and open their eyes to the worlds of industry, teamwork and dependency.

This simple presentation on the intricacies of producing a low-tech tool they all use is a perfect segue to introduce economics and promote greater financial literacy. Its straightforward presentation also demonstrates how it takes millions of people working together to produce a good so fundamental to learning, writing and communication.

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