Season One, Episode Two

Are Students Tiny Capitalists?
Swapping Tickets, Limes, & Live Squirrels with School Kids

Click here for a transcript of this episode.

We have talked about how we imagine children through the lessons we feel they need to learn. In this episode, we’re thinking about another part of the schooling process —how to get children to do the work we’ve decided it’s important for them to do, whatever it is!

Systems for motivating children, from trading good behavior for tickets to paying students for earning As,  reveal what adults think children want. What children do within those systems sometimes tells us something quite different… and sometimes it involves caged squirrels.

image gallery

reading list

Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women, or Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Boston, 1890.

Bleske, Bernie. “School Is an Economy and Its Currency Is the Grade.” Medium, May 14, 2019.

Diaz, Mrs A. M. “The John Spicer Lectures, III: Swapping.” Wide Awake, vol. 16, no. 3, February 1883, pp. 218–219.

Herwatt, Stephanie A. “Students Perform Better When Paid.” The Harvard Crimson, April 13, 2010.

Kleiman, Evan. “Ask Evan: What Are Pickled Limes?” KCRW, January 25, 2011.

Pickled Limes [Recipe].” Delia Online.

Prothero, Arianna. “Does Paying Kids to Do Well in School Actually Work?” Education Week, October 17, 2017.

Reigart, John Franklin. The Lancasterian System of Instruction in the Schools of New York City. Teachers College, Columbia University, 1916.

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