Why Do Pooled Resources Cost You More?

School time is upon us and I headed out to buy my children’s school supplies.  At the end of the day I wondered why school supplies for each of my daughters cost more in one year than what I spent on my son from Kindergarten to Fourth grade combined.  Is it that they want pretty little notebooks and pens that cost extra money?  Actually no because they have “community school supplies” which means we are told what to buy and then we give all the supplies to the school to distribute.  So the school supplies are the same 15 cent notebooks I bought for my son years ago.

But there is a big difference.  See, my son was expected to bring home at the end of the year his scissors, pencils, pens, notebooks, rulers, pencil box, note paper,  markers, colored pencils, etc and anything, that was in good condition is what he used the next year.  Therefore we got two or more years out of colored pencils that he used lightly during art class.  His scissors were the same ones all four years.

For my girls we are expected to supply EVERYTHING new every year.  Now this is especially odd since my girls “loop” meaning they have the same classmates and teacher two years in a row.  It begs you to ask what happened to last year’s scissors? last year’s rulers?  and why do kids need to bring 48 sharpened pencils a year when you know they will only go through six?

What is scariest about this is not that we are paying so much more than we really need to in school supplies, but rather the long-term brain lessons that kids are learning from this process.

Here are some of the things they are learning:

1. You don’t have to be accountable long-term for your supplies.  There will always be a pencil, ruler, or scissors when you need it. My son knew that if he needed a new glue bottle he had to explain to me why his ran out.  Now the girls don’t ever have to worry about waste or accountability.

2. Customization isn’t important. I think putting your own stamp by having a notebook you want or a pencil you want helps kids focus on ownership and pride in what they have.

3. Lack of appreciation for excess.  My daughter even noted that they have an entire “bin” of unused pencils at school yet still this year we are asked to bring 48 sharpened pencils instead of the usual 24 pencils.

4. Lack of follow through.  We are suppose to supply pencils for English class (since it is held in a different room from the main room) as well as for the regular class.  Why don’t they be responsible for taking their supplies with them?

Lastly, I worry about germs.  If every kid is grabbing a pencil, ruler, etc from the community bucket, think of how many germs can be spread.

In my Webinar Thinking at The Speed Of Light I share with you about the Common Spoon and the implication to productivity. You will see exactly why the above problem is not relegated to the schools but can also handicap your office.  You will see what is does to raise your costs and lower your productivity.  Once you know it you will see how you can change it and make your work place more successful.