Thursday, January 18, 2007

Business Education in the Electives Marketplace

In my class today we discussed the tension business educators feel each year concerning the number of students who will enrol in their courses. Students need to choose business education courses as they are usually not required to take these courses. Which mean that business educators operate in a highly competitive marketplace. A rather narrow marketplace at that - at least in Saskatchewan there is not that much room in the high school curriculum for electives.

The comparison was made to English teachers. English classes are always full and the teachers never need to worry about having their courses cancelled because of lack of enrolment.

So who, really, is in the better position.

English courses are always full as they are required of all students. But do all students want to be in those courses? How resistant are some students to learning the English curriculum?

On the other hand theoretically business education students have chosen the course because of interest or some other personal reason. Under the best of circumstances they will want to be in the course and they will be motivated to learn.

So the tension of working in the elective marketplace is offset by these kinds of students.

Unfortunately students come to our classes for other reasons too - their friends are taking the class, it fit their timetable, it is supposed to be an easy credit. These are realities that our teachers face.

The more harsh reality happens when students are counselled into Business Education courses because they are 'easier' courses or they are 'vocationally' oriented or because the student can't 'cut it' in other classes.

That is institutional bias.

So as business educators we have three jobs beyond the obvious. First we have to make sure our courses are appropriate, meaningful and actually teach important things to our students. Second we have to work at marketing ourselves and being successful in the elective marketplace. And third we need to inform and convince our colleagues in our schools (and perhaps parents too) that Business Education courses are not places to hide students or to store them until they drop out

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