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Kids talk capitalism

  • Saturday, August 30, 2014

Monica Kreber/Journal Scene Pren Woods gives his seventh-graders a lesson in capitalism.

On Aug. 23 Summerville’s Farmer’s Market was bustling with its usual crowd of people looking for fresh produce or maybe a craft or two.

Meanwhile Pren Woods, seventh-grade social studies teacher at Alston Middle School, was leading a group of his students around the market, helping them get ideas for an upcoming assignment in which the students will have to come up with their own business plans.

This is the third year Woods has been teaching this lesson at the farmer’s market. The state standard is to analyze the beginnings of capitalism and its social impact.

One of the group’s first stops was at a booth selling Harry Potter wands.

“People are going to buy them because they’re Harry Potter crazy, right?” Woods asked his students, emphasizing the importance of selling products that appeal to customers.

Woods said his students are going to be making logos, business cards and imaginary websites as part of their business plans – “because, what are you trying to do as a capitalist? Keep that money in your…”

“Pocket,” his students answered.

When the students make their plans they do not have to stick with selling food. Woods gave them ideas such as cleaning services, party planning or tutoring.

Woods also introduced them to some new vocabulary and terms.

“I learned you have to eliminate the middle man,” student Will Platt said.

Woods explained that a “middle man” is anyone in the middle accepting money for a service or product. For example, Woods used to have a singing business when he was a freshman in college; he realized a lot of parents would miss their kids’ birthdays during their freshman year so Woods wrote a letter to every freshman parent saying if they were willing to pay $5, Woods would deliver a cupcake to their child and sing “Happy Birthday.” Woods would buy a cupcake from Walmart on his own and visit the freshmen students personally to wish them a Happy Birthday.

“When I had my singing business I could have hired someone to go to Walmart and get the cupcakes. Wouldn’t I have to pay them?” he said. “So, a middle man is anybody who, literally, is in the middle taking some of your money. It doesn’t just relate to food items. It’s like who is supplying you, who is helping you.”

Chad Mason said he learned a little bit about pricing.

“I learned you need to focus on the price and the product when it comes to creating a business plan,” he said.

Tristan Beachy said he learned lots of products are based off popular things so one can make a better profit.

“Like cupcakes for Harry Potter,” he said.

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