Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dr. Spock meets Freakonomics

lays bare what most sleep-deprived parents only dream about.

Forget about inflation and unemployment. Here an economist uses game theory to tackle really important topics, such as toilet training and fussy eaters."

Melbourne Business School Professor Economics Joshua Gans new book will be out in six weeks.

It is deeply personal.

He reports that he is selling the first copy on Ebay (here) to raise money for the MS Readathon.

The latest bid, tonight (Saturday) is $316.00.

Here's a wonderful scene:

This week we had the 8 year old's parent-teacher interview. It began:

"I have to tell you that your child is a delight."


"Yes, she does everything she is told. She is always ready at the beginning of class with her diary on the table. She works hard all day at projects. And she always helps clean up."

"Umm, we are the Gans family. Take another look at your sheet. Are we talking about the same child?"...

Turns out that we were talking about the same child, physically at least. At home, 'compliant' is not the word I would use for Child No.1. Sure faced with the inevitable, she is very good and does most things without being reminded. But on anything extra, well, it is a struggle where she clearly believes that if she complies she might be doing whatever distasteful activity it is for the rest of life. Actually, she is probably right about that.

Nonetheless, let's face it, we can't complain. If we are going to have compliance somewhere best that it be at school. Indeed, we rewarded that by allowing her to have more of a free reign with her time at home.

But I was curious. Why was there such a difference? We asked her:

"Well, of course I am well-behaved. They pay me there."

"What do you mean?"

"We get money. Well, not real money but bonus money. I have the most in the class."

Ah ha, so once again she proves that she is her father's daughter. At school they get the price right which is clearly not the case at home. Nonetheless, I don't think we are going to change things here, lest we upset the current happy situation at school.