Barter At School

By James Harvey Stout (deceased). This material is now in the public domain. The complete collection of Mr. Stout's writing is now at >



In school, we learn about computers and commas, volcanoes and valleys, triangles and trigonometry. The school is a good place to learn about bartering, too.

Our teachers are not going to teach us about bartering. We have to learn by doing it ourselves. At school, we can talk to our friends about bartering. And we can help them to make lists of things to trade, and lists of things to get by trading.

These people could meet once a week, to set up deals. In this "Barter Club," we can have a "master list" of things which are available: Stewart's bicycle, Betsy's typing skills, and everything else from the people's individual lists. The members can come to us during the school-week, and ask us, "Does anyone have a sleeping bag to trade?" Since we have the master list, we can say, "Yes, Billy has one. Here is his phone number."

We won't have time to talk to everyone in the school. But we can reach many students by putting an ad into our school newspaper, or onto our bulletin board. (Ask your teacher for permission to do this). The ad might say, "I want to trade size 8 roller skates for some video games. Call John Stallen at [your phone number]."

Our ad can list several items: "I am swapping my new soccer ball, two winter jackets, books, and a zither. See Jack Smith in home-room #5 before school."

The ad can be more general: "I like to swap the things which I have, and the things which I do. If you want to barter, call Sammi at 846-7894."

We can even barter with our teachers. In Barterburg, Julie Layo showed her lists to Mrs. Grisson (the English teacher), who had a rose garden which needed to be weeded. And Julie set up a deal to mow the custodian's lawn, in exchange for a big bag of juicy apricots from his trees. Julie's history teacher (Mr. Kurantis) wanted her TV in exchange for his son's red bicycle. (Don't try to barter for a better grade by doing chores at the teacher's house; you would probably get into trouble if you offered this deal.)

We can barter at lunchtime. If our Mom puts an apple in your lunch-bag every day, we can swap it for an orange tomorrow. And if the cafeteria serves a brownie for dessert, we can trade it for a friend's pudding.

Since we spend so much time in school, we might as well barter there -- before the first bell, between classes, at lunch, and after school. We are in school to learn. We can learn about bartering, too?