does high school teach ecomomics

does high school teach ecomomics

The Importance of Teaching Economics in High School

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1. The Need for Economic Education

Economic knowledge that children learn helps them understand and interpret the world around them. Teenagers are faced with many tough decisions regarding education, lifestyles, and jobs that depend on the knowledge of basic economic principles. According to Fox, literacy in economics is an essential component in the preparation of our nation’s young people. He further articulated that economically literate youth looks poised to enter adult life with a deeper understanding of our nation’s leaders and the economic policy choices they will confront. Through the recognized importance of economic education, Feubert and Leeson suggested that high school students are being challenged to understand and interpret the world around them. The importance of economic education has been formerly emphasized as it is essential to the successful combination of lasting economic and financial education. Prospective adults and citizens generally do not have a strong reason to take the study of advanced economic topics as central to their educational success, in political or personal decision-making processes, or in public life.

Understanding key economic ideas requires the skills of critical thinking and economic reasoning. School students need to understand economic principles such as decisions involve trade-offs, costs and benefits, incentives, voluntary exchange, competition and market interactions, and the limited resources. They should be prepared with knowledge of economic principles so as to become good decision-makers and good citizens as well as improving their lives in accordance with principles of prosperity. As consumers, producers, savers, investors, and citizens, children would play a major role in their economic life and activities. Whether or not these and other outcomes occur clearly depends on what people know and how they think about economic and financial issues and the options they encounter. Moreover, schools must recognize and are best to enhance the responsibility in offering a comprehensive education including economic education.

2. Benefits of Teaching Economics in High School

Economists like Robert Barrow, who talk about the “cultural infrastructure of the economy,” and Clifford Winston, who goes further to say that an understanding of economics improves the lives of the vast majority of the population, concur with this. Robert Lucas argues that everyone needs to gain even the most basic understanding of economic concepts. At the basic level, economic concepts help informed and intelligent citizens of a knowledge-based society to develop the tools to live their potential in the 21st century and do not require a full understanding of academic mathematics. A lack of financial education has a significant negative effect on the economic and social productivity of the average American person. More specifically, high school graduates are ignorant when they are forced to make decisions about paying for college, obtaining and maintaining a line of credit, purchasing their first car, or applying for a mortgage.

For many Americans, knowledge and understanding of economics are a key to a happier life. Understanding economic theory helps individuals not only in understanding the interplay of the important events in their everyday lives but also in an organized way which promotes better decision-making sets the stage so that they can make their dreams come true. It also provides insights into the preparation of informed and intelligent citizens as well as members of the workforce. But what many people do not realize is that good teachers have more significant effects on standard test scores than any other aspect of public schooling, including student and family background. Good economic teachers can improve student standardized test scores by one-third of a standard deviation. To elaborate on this, the Council for Economic Education reports that after high school graduation, only 25% of students understand fundamental economic concepts. This lack of understanding by the American public has become the subject of international attention as Economic and Financial Literacy has been recognized as a controversial 21st-century issue.

3. Integrating Economics into the High School Curriculum

Integrating economic content and skills within a social studies program might be a solution for schools with limited personnel and funding. Cross-disciplinary lessons in an integrated unit are more successful in promoting student economic understanding and transfer of knowledge than stand-alone economics units, so the integrated model followed in the BCoS program enhances social studies skills as students learn numerous social studies subjects. The Best Coast Schools program ensures that economics concepts and skills are integrated into the fabric of social studies instruction, based on the understanding that this is important and effective for student learning and curriculum development. Introducing economics to students at all ages and across all class subjects is critical. One of the teachers in the BCoS program shares that incorporating clear connections between history, economics, and literature was their first priority in the planning process. By doing this, students would be more likely to understand economic concepts and use knowledge from each social studies subject appropriately.

In order to make sure students learn economics, high schools must be resourceful about how they provide economics instruction. When resources are limited for high school economics instruction, innovative approaches which integrate economics with other social studies courses might be one solution. Instead of merely teaching “economics,” the effective high school program infuses into other subject areas the economic reasoning that provides for more comprehensive study of those areas. Economics can reinforce the study of other disciplines as well, particularly in history and political science. Collaboration between social studies classes through cross-disciplinary instructive strategies, such as common assignments, integrated assessment options and set meeting times allow students to transfer knowledge across instruction. Students of the BCoS program were so inspired by their integrated learning experience that they began to apply economic reasoning easily across content areas, demonstrating their ability to transfer knowledge, an important aspect of effective instruction. Cross-disciplinary lessons in an integrated unit are more successful in promoting knowledge transfer than a stand-alone approach.

4. Strategies for Effective Economics Education

An examination of the latest “A Nation at Risk Warning” stated that it was “best to see a high school diploma as a certificate of competency,” but it also identified a deficiency in the mastery of core academic skills. As Gabel noted, without a solid understanding of the market economy, false conclusions are drawn about the working dynamics of the relationship between economic man and economic institutions. It is essential that students become aware of the economic environment in which they live. When teaching high school economics, or at any level, it is important to attempt to provide students with a “hook” or a “held.” If the first introduction to economics captured their interest, a better foundation is likely to be laid when branching out to include important concepts such as supply and demand, alternative economic systems, and consumer and business behavior. Some specific strategies for effective economics education include: the use of textbooks that include a micro- and macroeconomics section, with unit introductions at the high school level, written assignments that require application of economics concepts, and the use of current events to enhance student learning of economic principles.

When it comes to teaching students how to become informed citizens, a high school economics course is essential. As Kennedy noted in 1963, “students of all ages gain a practical insight into how economic factors affect individual, business, and government decision making.” They will “understand the various economic systems, and why and how they function as they do.” Few people will have the opportunity to be in Congress, but every citizen makes decisions every day that carry economic implications. Without students having the knowledge of how economic systems function, the United States will not have the organizational flexibility to keep pace with the economic effects of new technologies. Since consumer spending makes up a large part of the gross national product, if citizens do not have a firm understanding of their role in the economy, the economy cannot be as efficient as it should be.

5. The Long-Term Impact of Economic Literacy

The benefit of economic literacy is an understanding of both the United States’ and the world’s recent major experiences with the uncertainty of decision-making contexts and the significance of economics. Students can see advances in technology, which is evident from emerging domestic and global situations, such as the World Wide Web, the 2001 terrorist attacks, Education Law No Child Left Behind, the 2008 U.S. financial collapse, the Affordable Care Act, and the 2016 presidential election. With globalization, students need economic literacy more than ever; people are fundamentally affected every day by war, peace, work, rights, money, debt, laws, and policies. Yet, it’s important to acknowledge that educating and generating strong, well-informed economists in their decision-making situations will be difficult and complex.

Despite no previous research, economists are confident that enhancing economic literacy is beneficial. We expect that students may not need to fully understand every concept we include in our definition of economic literacy to see positive returns for normal professional pursuits. Most important, economic literacy is likely to have spillover effects in both professional and non-professional human capital contexts. Economic literacy can help students learn other substantive complexities, have a higher level of discernment, think critically, distinguish between morally right and wrong decisions, and lead to improved judgment.

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