Teaching Economics and the Globalization Debate on the World Wide Web. (Surfing the Web)

Article excerpt

AT A TIME when economics, business, the national budget, and international trade dominate the headlines, economic knowledge and understanding is crucial. The ability to analyze and understand such issues as the privatization of Social Security or the impact of the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) is essential for citizens in a democracy. If we social studies educators live up to our stated mission--to "teach students the content knowledge, intellectual skills, and civic values necessary for fulfilling the duties of citizenship in a participatory democracy"--economics should be as important as history or U.S. government in the curriculum.

There has been substantial progress in expanding the amount of economic content in the K-12 curriculum. Instead of a single, traditional twelfth-grade, one-semester economics course, many of the new state standards now have economic content included at all grade levels. In Texas, Indiana, and many other states, the basic economic principle of scarcity is taught in the first grade. In Maryland, students completing the third grade must be able to "identify the opportunity costs of economic decisions made about goods and services." If you are interested in seeing the national and state economics standards (or standards for any subject area, for that matter), you can visit the website of Education World, www.educationworld.com/ standards/state/index.shtml. You can search by subject area, state, and grade level.

There are many websites that classroom teachers and students will find helpful in curriculum planning and economics instruction. Many of them have links to one another, so finding one site will lead you to most of the others. Here are some of the best.

The National Council for Economic Education (NCEE)
www.ncee.net

This is the site where economics teachers, or anyone interested in economics at the K-12 levels should begin. NCEE, a national network that leads the effort to improve economic literacy, developed the Voluntary National Standards in Economics. You can learn about its three core programs: Economics America, which trains more than 120,000 teachers each year; Economics International, helping nations in Central and Eastern Europe and the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union reform their economic education programs; and Economics Exchange, a new program for adults and parents. Economics America has five interactive modules online that help teenagers plan their personal finances.

There are a large number of teacher-developed lesson plans that have been reviewed for economic content and instructional strategies. You can search the lesson plan database by grade level, by concept, by name, and by which standard(s) they meet. You can also take that national economics quiz that led to the NCEE campaign for economic literacy. (I received a grade of 85 percent, and I still think I'm right on that last question.)

Junior Achievement
www.ja.org/newja/

Junior Achievement provides a sequential and integrated set of economics and business programs for elementary, middle, and high schools. The elementary program is based on the familiar expanding environments scope and sequence pattern (self, family, community, for example). Middle and secondary programs bring businessmen and women into classrooms, set up job-shadowing programs, and instruct in personal finance. The site also has an online business simulation program, JA Titan, where students role-play a company CEO.

EcEdWeb
ecedweb.unomaha.edu/teach.htm

This site, at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), is run by Kim Sosin, Jim Dick, and Mary Lynn Reiser and is always on my list of recommended sites for economics instruction. It is one of the many regional centers affiliated with the NCEE. A variety of lesson plans are online, many developed by teachers who have attended professional development sessions at UNO. The site has a great internal page titled "Using the Internet to Teach Economics" (ecedweb. …