The economic demise of the Soviet Union is surely one of the great events of modern history, an upheaval that will continue to have monumental impact on global politics and trade. Soviet history is the vehicle for teaching fundamental skills and principles of economic reasoning, which are then used to analyze the complexities of the intertwined economic, political-legal and more-cultural components of Soviet society. The lessons not only explain why the Soviet economy collapsed, but also provide insights into our own economy.
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History teaches us that properous advanced national economies like the U.S. share a common institutional framework conducive to creativity, production, and exchange. That institutional framework of individual freedom, rule of law, clearly stated rights to private property, and open competitive markets shapes incentives to encourage material advance. The multiple perspectives approach to historical-scholarship requires viewing events, trends, and developments through a variety of analytical lenses. Often overlooked in traditional history curricula are the insights that the economic way of thinking adds to social, political, and geographic perspectives. Emphasizing the role of institutions, Economic Forces in American History looks at the impact of seven key forces in shaping the development of the United States.
Lurking beneath our natural desire to ensure that water will always be available to perform its many life-supporting functions is the fear that it will run out. Our thinking (in truth, our feeling) about water tends to be dominated by myth and misunderstanding. We believe that our 'need' for water is exponentially greater than other wants and needs; we also believe that this intense 'need' confers special status, making water a unique resource. We mistrust the ability of people to recognize water's special status, and we assert that only through common or public ownership can we preserve water for future generations. Paradoxically, while our conviction that water is unique derives from our knowledge of its many important uses, we have trouble acknowledging the value of water in anything other than pristine form. We tend to assume that, when it comes to water, there's no such thing as 'too clean.' Unfortunately, in acquiescing to these myths, we make things worse; we create for ourselves an intellectual box that constrains our ability to conserve the resource we value so highly. These lessons challenge the myths and use economic reasoning to suggest a new way to think about our use of this vital resource. In brief, the lessons assert: (1) that in economic terms, water is not fundamentally different from any other resource, good, or service; and (2) that many of the answers to our concerns about water conservation and water quality can be found in markets, the same institution that provides us bread, shoes, underwear, tractors, flowers, computers, charities, flu shots, bubblegum, the collectible craze of the moment, and the myriad other products we find 'essential' to the way we wish to live.
Economics for Leaders (EFL) is designed to introduce young individuals to an economic way of thinking about national and international issues, and to promote excellence in economic education by helping teachers of economics become more effective educators. The curriculum materials, including background outlines for teachers and classroom-ready simulations and activities to engage students, support the teaching of critical thinking skills by equipping students with the tools of the economic reasoning. Five economic reasoning propositions for the foundation for teaching and learning the economic way of thinking.
This set of lessons looks at a variety of natural disasters from the Black Death of the Middle Ages to Hurricane Katrina in our too-recent memory, to fears of avian flu pandemics that haunt the future through the lens of economic analysis. The contexts were chosen to facilitate the teaching of economic reasoning principles not only in economics courses, but also in history and the other social studies disciplines. Each lesson addresses a question that reflects people's compassionate reaction to news of disaster and develops one or two key tools of economic analysis in answering that question. Case studies of past disasters provide real-world illustrations. Mandated content standards and testing have kicked 'current events' days from the social studies classroom calendar, transforming disasters from 'teachable moments' to curricular inconvenience. Using the economic way of thinking to sift through the chaos of natural disasters, however, reveals threads of uniformity running through the litany of horrors and devastation unique to each event. Once identified, the common features of past disasters form a template for analyzing 'the next one,' allowing teachers to quickly incorporate today's unexpected news into the planned curriculum outline.
The Foundation for Teaching Economics is pleased to make available to teachers the content outlines, classroom activities, and teacher materials (demonstration videos and lecture presentations) for each of our residential, one-day, and online curricula. Each curriculum topic link on the left connects you to an overview and table of contents. From there, you may: browse the lessons as web pages; access download links for lessons as editable word documents; use live source links to update statistical data; print instructions and student handouts for classroom activities; and, review and prepare for your classroom by reviewing activity videos and powerpoint lectures.
Trade issues occasionally dominate and are a continuing theme of the international scene: the global market, sweatshops, child labor, trade deficits, the euro, sanctions, tariffs, embargoes, and the EU, NAFTA, WTO, the seemingly endless alphabet of interest groups, treaties, organizations, and trade agreements. As a classroom topic, international trade has the great advantage of providing ready-made material for teachers wanting to engage student interest in current events. On the other hand, the complexity of the issues surrounding trade is daunting. While economic reasoning doesn't guarantee resolution of the issues, it is a powerful tool of critical thinking that brings clarity to the discussion of current events. The ability to determine comparative advantage through opportunity cost, the ability to identify incentives and predict resulting behavior, and the ability to use supply and demand analysis of particular labor and resource markets, help students to set aside the emotion of international trade issues and cut through the rhetoric of media reports.
The Right Start in Teaching Economics lessons were designed for those new to teaching economics Đ even if not new to teaching! An excellent review or refresher if college economics courses have become a distant memory, Right Start lessons help teachers enter the classroom with renewed confidence in their own understanding of economic reasoning.