The Impact of Infusionomics
“Infusionomics is transformational for kids,” Goble said. “It’s not just a curriculum we teach. It’s a different way of teaching, integrating economic thinking into everyday learning. We began to see unanticipated benefits. Kids began using the concepts in their daily interactions, making better decisions, and achieving higher grades in core subjects.”
Although many schools have been touched by aspects of the program, nine schools across the country are incorporating the full Infusionomics menu into their core curriculum. Those schools are listed below as well as stories about their students who have found the program to be transformational.
At the Harambee Christian School in Columbus, Ohio, the incentives provided by Smart Money have encouraged big changes. Ninety-five percent of the kids now turn in homework consistently. Students also earn points for good behavior in class. With far fewer disruptions, third-grade teacher Jim Flaherty estimates he has gained an average of 2.5 hours of instructional time each week. Principal Alex Steinman credits the program—plus some other curricular changes the school has implemented, as well as its dedicated teachers—for Harambee’s impressive academic success. Some 88 percent of Harambee’s students are low-income. Its neighboring schools serve a similar demographic. But while students in those schools typically perform at around the 20th percentile on the Metropolitan Achievement Test, students at Harambee routinely achieve above the 50th percentile (i.e., they score higher than about half of all students who take the test). “The virtual economic system at our school motivates and educates our students,” Steinman affirms.
Participating administrators also like the program because it fits with their aim of being “holistic” schools. “We’re not just educating kids in reading, writing, and arithmetic,” says Heidi Cate of the residential Lighthouse Academy in Grand Rapids, Michigan, “but trying to help them understand everything that it takes to maintain their own lives—from laundry to balancing a checkbook to renting an apartment.”
At Rockville, Illinois’ Lydia Academy, principal Mandy Ross works with tough Latino teens who have been kicked out of the Chicago public schools for truancy, drug use, or gang involvement. What attracted her to Infusionomics was the way the concepts spoke to daily realities and helped youth learn better decision-making processes. What she and teacher Travis Satterlee, both licensed social workers, saw in Infusionomics was “a lot of life skills that the kids need.”
Regina Babb from Forest Park High School in Atlanta says she was “a little leery” about Infusionomics at first because she didn’t know whether the teens would be able to relate to the concepts. But then she started hearing the students use the vocabulary; it “would just pop up” at different times. Once in a science class, a group of students had failed to bring in needed supplies. A better prepared group, Babb says, “started considering sharing [their] resources, and they were discussing supply, demand, and scarcity. And just talking about, ‘We have what you want. How badly do you want it?’”
Children at Brinkley Heights in northeast Memphis were running a pancake breakfast business when I visited there in April. Teacher Jennifer Combs coached the kids in understanding the business’ start-up costs and the potential risks of investment, but the children themselves selected the products, cooked up the goods, and ran the cash register. Brinkley Heights principal Tim Cox loves Smart Money and Infusionomics because they are so hands-on. “It’s great to explain to kids what they need to be doing and the choices they need to be making,” he says. “But it’s much better if you actually have a learning lab, something for them to actually participate in.”
Other schools implementing Infusionomics include:
- Logan Hope School – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Cornerstone Academy – Chicago, Illinois
- Omaha Street School – Omaha, Nebraska
- Hunting Park Christian Academy – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania