Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Economics and Economic Development

I was channel surfing earlier today when I came across what appeared to be a telecast of the Junior Achievement Awards dinner on our local public access channel.

I listened to a few of the announcements and honors but was most interested when the Premier Brad Wall spoke. He praised JA for assisting young people in looking at entrepreneurship and for becoming entrepreneurs.

He talked about his father and his uncle starting out in business and about his own attempts at creating businesses.

His government is focused on economic development. His rhetoric and actions are aimed at creating a sustainable and economically viable province. My guess is that his beliefs are based on the values of hard work, economic contribution, innovation and competition.

So why is there this blind spot concerning the study of economics in high schools? What entrepreneur could possibly be successful without an understanding of basic economic concepts? What consumer can use and protect their resources in ways that are of benefit to the individual and to society?

How can you have economic development without an understanding of economics?

Whenever a Business Educator speaks up about the high school economics curriculum they are told that Economics is a Social Science (implying that we should butt out). The latest example of this is a portion of a letter one of my students received from the current Minister of Education.

The economics curriculum in Saskatchewan is so outdated that it doesn't even appear on the Ministry of education's website.

In an environment where we regularly hear that as educators we need to encourage innovation, creativity and energy because of the changing economic environment, where globalisation is a fact and that we compete in a global economy why is it that it seems difficult to discuss the curriculum that directly addresses these basic concepts.

How can you have economic development - sustained or otherwise - with out economics.

For those about to reply that Economics is a Social Science (even according to economists) please notice that I, along with most business educators, couldn't care less what the designation is, rather we care that students learn this important material.

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