How to Use "Freakonomics" in the Classroom
"Freakonomics" is a 2005 non-fiction book by economist Steven Levitt and "New York Times" journalist Stephen J. Dubner. This bestselling book is an alternative take on the often dry study of economics. Using the book is a good way to freshen up your classes and challenge your students to think outside the metaphorical box. A series of classes or a module on "Freakonomics" is a study of incentives.
Download the free "Freakonomics" student and instructor guides. To access the instructor’s guide, you must email the Harper Collins publishing company.
Break the book down into its component chapters. For example, the basic six topics based on the chapters would be: "Discovering Cheating," "Information Control," "Economics of Narcotics," "Legalized Abortion and Crime Levels," "Good Parenting and Education," and "Socioeconomic Patterns Regarding Names." This gives you six lessons to base classes on. Write a one-page summary of each chapter. Distill the main points, the counterpoints, examples and conclusions.
Prepare a lesson plan for each topic. 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. For younger students, grades 6 to 12, consider worksheets or quizzes.