Class takes the eek out of economics

June 19 2008

Jennifer Swain, a teacher at Meridian Elementary School in Brazil, was full of curiosity when she signed up for a course at Indiana State University on incorporating economics in the classroom for grades K-5.

"When I read the brochure for the first time, I wondered, does this really apply to us?" Swain said.

After just one day of attending the 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. "Take the Eek Out of Economics" class, Swain said she was pleasantly surprised as to how much economics really does apply to children of all ages.

For the past 12 years, John Conant, chair of the economics department at Indiana State, has taught this course to teachers and shown them the way to a brighter economically educated future for children.

"It is important to give children a basic understanding of the overall economy and to teach them to make better economic decisions early on," said Conant. "Economic skills used in everyday life should be part of the regular curriculum."

The curriculum for this three-credit hour course is a combination of the education of basic economic knowledge, along with hands-on activities that are not only useful to class members, but will fit into their students' curriculum when they are back in the classroom in the fall. Specific topics discussed in this course include: goods/services, opportunity costs, mathematical tools, financial literacy, and good financial decision making.

Along with Swain there were about 20 other teachers who were just as curious as she was.

Michelle Layton, an art teacher at DeVaney and Franklin Elementary schools in Terre Haute, explained how the course taught her much about the world of economics and education.

"This course has completely changed my mindset when it comes to economics. I never realized just how vital economic knowledge is to everyday life," said Layton. "It is so important to integrate economics, even in art class."

Layton said that this course will not only be useful for the kids in her classroom, but also her son at home.

"My son and I have a book of poems which we read together quite often," said Layton, "but it was not until I was enrolled in this class that I realized there are examples of everyday economics right there in front of us."

For the most part, the teachers enrolled in this economic course were there to work on their masters or to fulfill licensure requirements that will allow them to continue teaching.

"This is one of the best experiences I've had," said Swain. "Everyone should take this course. It is so beneficial to all teachers."

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Contact: John Conant, Indiana State University, chair of the economics department, at jconant@isugw.indstate.edu or 812-237-2160

Writer: Jennifer Spector, Indiana State University, media relations intern, at jspector@mymail.indstate.edu or 812-237-3773

Photo: http://ISUphoto.smugmug.com/photos/315597103_Fr656-D.jpg  

Cutline: John Conant, Indiana State University chair of the economics department, talks to kindergarten through fifth grade teachers about ways to incorporate economics into their classes. ISU Photo/Tony Campbell

 

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Story Highlights

For the past 12 years, John Conant, chair of the economics department at Indiana State, has taught this course to teachers and shown them the way to a brighter economically educated future for children.

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