Effective Strategies in Economics and Business Education: An International Perspective

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Effective Strategies in Economics and Business Education: An International Perspective, David Lines ed., The Economics and Business Education Association, 2001, 163 pages, paperback, L16.50 inc. p & p in the UK, ISBN: 0-901529-58-3, contact Adam Unwin, a.unwin@ioe.ac.uk.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to spend more time out of the classroom discussing teaching strategies, rather than dealing with the demands of paperwork? How many of you can remember the days when the curriculum and hands-on teaching and learning issues dominated staff meetings? It sometimes feels that those at the DfEE would like to discourage us from thinking. Call me paranoid, but since the National Criteria for Business Studies were published in 1986 leading to GCSEs a year earlier than everybody wanted, we have had the National Curriculum, GNVQs and a series of major changes to the way in which we work, much of which has been accompanied by political rhetoric designed to appeal to parents as stakeholders, rather than the professional sensitivities of those at the sharp-end. For example, inane statements like 'bog-- standard comp', or the narrow and unsubstantiated views expressed by Rasputin impressionists like Woodhead have done little to support the esteem of teachers as classroom professionals. Education might not be an easy industry to work within but it is an exciting one. People's teaching styles and practices differ, as do the circumstances and environmental conditions of their workplace. There is no formula that sums up teaching effectiveness, and this is often reflected by the quote that 'there are many different ways to cook potatoes'. Asking questions about our practice or the practices of others, reading professional magazines and journals, reflecting upon our own teaching and using our own actions to research and experiment within our own classroom are all part of the process of teacher professionalisation. It is what makes the job special, is something that we must strive for, justify, discuss and not allow others to take away. It is also why, with open arms, I welcome subject or discipline-based publications, and more particularly those that are edited, diverse and international.

Effective Strategies in Economics and Business Education: An International Perspective, includes a selection of papers presented as part of the EBEA Conference in 1999 to an international audience of economics and business educators. Although the introduction by David Lines claims that delegates for the conference included a diverse group of contributors from across the globe, the book does not include all of the papers presented to the conference from international contributors as apparently some papers were not intended to be published or were too specialised. As a result, despite the 'international' implication behind the title, and without Scottish contributions, the book is transatlantic, as the papers within the text refer to English and US systems.

The book is structured into three parts, each of which I shall deal with in turn. For the first part of the text entitled 'Business and Economics curriculum issues', there are 5 papers starting with a paper written by Hala Saliet and Helen Swift, dealing with the topical issue of raising achievement. Their particular approach is to focus upon the importance of language and, with emphasis upon proactive learning and its link to individual motivation, their work upon the resources and strategies they have used within their region is both practical and useful. In her paper, Jenny Wales asks the almost impenetrable question 'Can key skills enhance learning?' and as with the previous paper, although related to theorists from 'a variety of perspectives' her approach is constructive. Nancy Wall's paper on the objectives of using IT in economics and business learning draws some interesting conclusions upon the need to consider the construction of syllabus content in order to allow ,simultaneous development of knowledge and skills. …