Teaching economics - Why examples should precede theory

Teaching economics - Why examples should precede theory

Dissertation, Teaching economics - Why examples should precede theory, Manolis Anastopoulos, Middlesex University.

5.2.2 Analysis of researching questions The need to understand economics and the effectiveness of the traditional teaching methods of the Economic theory.

The economic courses in Greek secondary education are taught at clearly introductory level with the lesson ‘Principles of Economics’ in the first grade of Senior High school and the lesson ‘Principles of the Economi Theory’ as an optional lesson[1] , with 2 hours per week  in the third grade  of Senior High school. As Whitehead & Makridou-Bousiou (2002:33) mention in their book, ‘Studies express scepticism about the potential that a lesson of few hours has to produce a satisfactory level of economics education.’

It could be then, that only two hours of teaching the economic theory per week constitute an important factor for the level of students’ understanding of economics. But is this the only one?

An additional, according to our opinion, problem in understanding economics is –the also observed in the adult population- that of ‘misunderstanding’ economic terms such as that of ‘inflation’ or ‘cost’. Additionally, given the everyday nature of economics discussions, we observed there is an attempt made by a lot of people to ‘conceal’ the ‘I don’t know’ or the ‘I’m not sure.’

It is a characteristic example that of students, who after having been taught the theory of economics for a year and with marks between 15-20, answered our question, ‘Do you believe that a substantial reduction in the prices of CDs would result in the increase of the quantity of CDs you would wish to buy? (that is if you like music and buy CDs?with NO at a percentage of 27%.

In our question towards the students, but also our fellow-teachers, with regard to ‘How important do you consider it is nowadays to understand economics and also to have an opinion on it?’ the overwhelming majority of 92% answered that YES, they do consider the existence of knowledge of economics important.

The above mentioned opinion also shared colleagues - teachers, stressing the fact that the birth and expansion of globalisation made the need for knowledge of economics imperative. With regard to the role played by economics to globalisation, Albanis (1998:198,199), characteristically mentions that, ‘Nowadays, economics is globalized, that means it is organised functionally, as a single unit, in worldwide scale. As for the perception and action of economics subjects, they are constantly becoming more and more multinational.’  The above remark, in our opinion supports the ‘need’ for knowledge of economics for people living in today’s status of globalisation.

On the one hand then, there is total recognition of the need for knowledge of economics and, on the other, 72% of those asked replied that they do not consider the traditional teaching methods effective for understanding economics  (for example: monologue, writing on the board, etc.) 

TABLE   The need to understand economics (knowledge of economics) and the effectiveness of

the traditional teaching methods of the Economic theory


[1]  Fortunately for the economic theory, it could never be considered that, when a well known subject becomes unfashionable, then it is incorporated into educational system as compulsory – Peter Drucker.