James O'Neill, professor of economics and director of the Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship (CEEE) in the Lerner College of Business and Economics, said the program, which also explores methods of providing greater opportunity for interdisciplinary work in math, science and social sciences, has steadily grown in popularity.
O'Neill said that many of the students in the program first hear about it by word-of-mouth. “A lot of it is by reputation. There are a lot of people who have gone through the program and recommended it to others, he said.
“The international aspect adds a valuable dimension to the program and the students enrich each other's experience through interaction and camaraderie. The international component has added significantly to the quality of the program,” O'Neill added.
The four-part program includes summer courses in basic economic concepts, strategies for entrepreneurship and economic teaching strategies, money and banking, international trade, micro/macro applications and a curriculum seminar with continued emphasis on entrepreneurship and workshop organization and delivery.
During the school year between the sessions, the educators will develop an economic education implementation design including entrepreneurship and take courses in economics, entrepreneurship and education or transfer credit hours that they have previously earned in those subjects.
O'Neill said CEEE, which is affiliated with the National Council on Economic Education and its EconomicsAmerica Program and Network, aims to develop meaningful economic education and entrepreneurship programs around the world and to establish a network of educators who can help instruct teachers in effective methods of teaching economics and entrepreneurship in elementary and secondary schools.
Scott Van Wig, a middle school U.S. history teacher from Thousand Oaks, Calif., said the unique program will help him integrate economic aspects with history.
“The program is definitely challenging and also rewarding in the opportunity that it will bring about, and the camaraderie of the class,” Van Wig said.
Erin Johnston, a secondary social studies teacher from Hudson, N.C., said the program will help her achieve the goal of opening an economic education center in North Carolina.
Delisse Metcalf, a secondary economics and Spanish teacher from Chandler, Ariz., said that one of the great benefits of the program that will have a direct impact on her students is “that we are getting to see how all the key concepts of economics tied together in society and a wealth of interesting examples that we can take back to the students.”
Chen Gao, a vice principal who also teaches history, social studies and geography at Peking University Primary School in Beijing, said the program will be helpful to elementary students because economic education in China is offered only to college students.
“When I came here I found that it was not a course about money, it was a course about choice,” Gao said.
Florin Teodorescu, a high school social studies teacher from Sibiu, Romania, said the program has given him skills that he can apply immediately upon his return to Romania.
“It opens different perspectives,” Teodorescu said. “It's very important because the students can use the knowledge and apply it in their lives.”
“The value added by this program is a greater understanding of the U.S. economy and application of the theories in general,” said Lilibeth Arcena, who teaches basic microeconomics and macroeconomics to second-year students at Ateneo De Davao University in Davao, Philippines. “I'm excited to be able to share what I learn from the program through the professors and my classmates.”
The summer session included visits by the educators to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, the Brookings Institution, the American Enterprise Institute, CATO Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the National Governors Association, U.S. Treasury Department, International Finance Corp. (World Bank) and the International Monetary Fund.
The program is supported by an endowment fund and generous sponsorship by the John Templeton Foundation, CTW Foundation Inc., NFIB Young Entrepreneurs Foundation, Bank of America, Foundation for Teaching Economics and the National Council on Economics Education.
The educators received instruction and support from O'Neill; David Black, associate professor of economics; James Butkiewicz, associate chairperson and professor of economics; Eleanor Craig, associate chairperson and professor of economics; Bonnie Meszaros, associate director of CEEE; and Barbara Emery, program coordinator at CEEE.
“If you get people who have been identified as leaders locally, those people will go back and impact other teachers and impact many more students,” O'Neill said. “We give them the confidence and the material to go back and work with educators in their areas to enrich and expand financial education.”
Article by Martin Mbugua
Photo by Duane Perry