Trade-offs was an AIT program designed to improve economics instruction in the United States and Canadian schools. The series of fifteen lessons, for children from 9-13, helped students think their way through economic problems and increased their understanding of economics.On a broader scale, it helped them become more effective decision makers and ultimately more responsible citizens.
Each lesson consists of a 20-minute color television/film program plus teacher's guide material to facilittate classroom follow-up. Each program begins with a short segment that identifies key points that students and teachers should watch for. This is followed by the dramatization of a fundamental economic problem relevant to the daily life of the student. Special visuals emphasize the economic principles and reasoning processes involved. The last portion of the program introduces, but does not resolve, another problem, and ends by posing a question to the viewers.
In its first year, Trade-offs was used by approximately 500,000 students and their teachers in about 25.000 fifth and sixth grade classrooms. This more than quadrupled the amount of teaching of economics as a subject. Trade-offs was produced under the direction of AIT by the Educational Film Center (North Spring-field. Virginia), The Ontario Educational Communications Authority, and public television station KERA, Dallas. Programs were available on film, videocassette, and broadcast videotape. Trade-offs was developed cooperatively by the Joint Council on Economic Education, the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education, the Agency for Instructional Television, and a consortium fifty-three state and provincial education and broadcasting agencies.