Educators from across the U.S. attended a workshop at UD to refine economic education instruction methods.

Economic education

Teachers refine instruction methods through CEEE program

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3 p.m., Aug. 15, 2011--Twenty-four educators representing 11 states marked the completion of their first summer on campus Friday, Aug. 5, with teacher workshop presentations designed to uniquely model how the teaching of economics can be effectively taught in the classroom.

The educators, who were participating in the first part of the University of Delaware master’s degree in economics and entrepreneurship for educators program, took courses on topics ranging from basic economic concepts to international trade, as well as a curriculum seminar that emphasized entrepreneurship, workshop organization and delivery.

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According to James O'Neill, professor of economics and director of the Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship (CEEE) in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, the program is designed to strengthen the economic, financial and entrepreneurial content of instruction at the primary and secondary school level.

“The philosophy of the program revolves around the idea that one highly motivated and skilled individual can have a positive influence on many others,” said O’Neill.

Bonnie Kelly, who teaches Advanced Placement (AP) government courses at Fairfax (Va.) High School, said the program increased her knowledge base and she appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with other teachers.

“There was a lot of talk about what we teach and how we teach it and it was helpful to have a program tailored to teachers that gave us the chance to work with each other,” she said.

James Buchanan, who teaches basic economics and personal finance at Collier High School in Wickatunk, N.J., said he gained more technical insights into the logic of economic theory that he plans to bring back to the classroom.

“We have been exposed to many different perspectives on some very complex issues,” he said, noting a memorable experience during the program was a trip to Washington, D.C.

“We had an opportunity to ask a left-leaning, right-leaning and center think tank about a specific issue and it was interesting to hear three different responses,” said Buchanan.

Jerry Miller, who teaches civics, economics and U.S. history at Dunbar Middle School in Lynchburg, Va., said the program would help him incorporate economics into his history and government classes.

“I teach about the Federal Reserve and the monetary system and what I have learned will help me to explain different monetary policies in a much easier way to my students,” he said.

Amanda Hughey, a Delaware teacher, said the program gave her the opportunity to be immersed in the language of economics from the point of view of an education and as someone who has the ability to impact policy in education.

“I plan to focus on the transition from high school to post-high school with an emphasis on financial literacy and creating your own job opportunity through entrepreneurship,” said Hughey of her implementation plan.

Steve Arel, who teaches AP economics, AP government and philosophy at Fargo South High School in Fargo, N.D., said the program gave him “a better understanding of academics, a bigger toolbox for discussion and a host of colleagues to contact for ideas.”

As part of his implementation plan, Arel will hold a workshop to demonstrate various teaching strategies that help fit his state’s standards.

Jan Rhodes, who teaches 12th grade economics and AP microeconomics at John Burroughs High School in Burbank, Calif., appreciated the resources, networking opportunities and visits to financial institutions during the program.

“The visits with the Economic Policy Institute, Brookings Institute, and Heritage Foundation were very enlightening and not typically an experience most people have – it was awesome,” she said.

Tom Gilroy, who teaches economics and other social studies curriculum classes at Dallas High School and works at Misericordia University’s CEEE in Dallas, Pa., said the instructors challenged his knowledge base of economics and allowed him to learn more than he thought possible.

“I am going back to my home center at Misericordia, and will continue to work on improving our Business Executive Camp by adding a teacher component,” he said.

The program is and has been 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, the National Council on Economics Education and the Kenrose Kitchen Table Foundation.

The CEEE is affiliated with the National Council on Economic Education, which 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.

Article by Kathryn Marrone Meier

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson

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