California Educator

June/July 2022

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Succeeding at Failure A novel way to teach a complex topic W H A T I S market failure? Why is it a problem, and what's the solution? For the past four years, social science teacher Breanne Wymore has addressed this topic twice a year by assign- ing her senior-level economics students a interactive market failure project. e results have been creative and fun, as opposed to written essays, "which can be really dry," says the El Dorado Union High School District Fac- ulty Association member. "It's a mix between a PSA and an infomercial," says Wymore of the projects. "Since kids choose something they are passionate about, I get widely dierent topics each sem est er, som e on super serious topics like pollution, mental health services, cost of college or the teacher shortages [as well as] light-hearted top- ics like homework." I n e c o n o m i c s , m a r - ket failure is a situation defined by an inefficient distribution of goods and services in the free market. "Students have to convince me there is a problem – and then present a 'there's got to be a better way ' part - a way to solve the problem." One innovative presentation focused on the environmental and financial costs of chewing gum litter. The solution? Government subsi- dizes production of biodegradable gum, with higher taxes on the production of non-biodegradable gum. Students are expected to use economics vocabulary and show a proper supply and demand graph. "e pur- pose is to get the kids to think critically, look at solutions and get a voice to talk about issues in which they have a passion," Wymore says. At right, excerpts from a few student examples, with Wymore's commentary: Slides from the gum presentation: "A perfect example of a market failure. They do a great job of explaining the economics and seemed to have fun with it." Some students add music or rap videos or other media to their projects, including this one from an industry pollution presentation. " This illustrates just how creative and talented students are. The music video is amazingly well made, the lyrics and music are original, and it's performed by the students themselves. High school students have so much more to give than answers on standardized tests." 41 J U N E / J U L Y 2 0 2 2 Teaching & Learning Breanne Wymore Final Trim Size: 8" x 5" 8.25" x 5.25" Bleed 7" x 4.687 Live Area Colors 4/0 CMYK Y C K M

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