Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

Teaching Economics as a Non-Specialist: 10 Tips for Survival

Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

Teaching Economics as a Non-Specialist: 10 Tips for Survival

Article excerpt

The American poet (and teacher) Mark Van Doren once said that The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery. But what if you, the teacher, are required to go through this process of discovery prior to teaching thirty or so teenagers an entire A Level? In the world of budget squeezes and rationalisation that is indeed what many of us are increasingly being asked to do. Below are my top ten tips for those of you who have been asked to teach Economics for the first time.

1. Plan ahead

Whichever examination board you are following, the Economics syllabus has a clear line of progression. The economic problem leads into resource allocation... resource allocation leads into markets... markets takes you into supply and demand and so on and so on. Speak with faculty colleagues. They may have a programme of study that you can adopt as your own or alternatively most of the examination boards offer something similar. It is absolutely vital that before you begin you have a clear plan of delivery for the entire year. I would recommend a week-by-week plan to give you some flexibility. Take some time to think about which topics will be most challenging (and so will require more time). If you are unsure help can be found in the points below.

2. Get to know the assessment model

I can't stress this point enough. Of course it is vital that you understand how an economics paper will be assessed so that your students can have the best chance of success in their exams. However in economics it runs deeper than this. The ability to analyse and evaluate key concepts is a skill that a good economist must develop in order to be able to fully understand the subject itself. The ability to make arguments using their economic 'tool kit' is not just vital in the context of an exam paper, but also an integral part of being an economist. Examination boards are now providing mark schemes with more detail than ever. Use these in conjunction with past papers and examiners reports to help you to get a feel for the sort of questions your students will be asked in those all important examinations.

3. Ask for advice or teaching materials from colleagues

There is no shame in asking colleagues to share their teaching ideas or materials with you if you are not sure how to approach a particular topic - indeed most of us enjoy nothing more than the opportunity to show off our resources! Your colleagues will appreciate how tough it is to teach something away from your specialism and they will be happy to help out with information or materials. Make sure you take the opportunity to pick their brains about the order in which they deliver materials - they may even have an old scheme of work that they could pass onto you.

4. Book yourself onto a course

Although exam boards are beginning to move away from the traditional one-day CPD courses, there are still a number of outstanding providers out there. These can be a priceless opportunity to gather resources and ideas, as well as an opportunity to meet other professionals and build your own professional network.

5. Stay a couple of weeks ahead

For your own sanity and the good of your students try to prepare lessons a few weeks ahead. I know that this is often easier said than done, but when teaching Economics it is useful to have an understanding of where the syllabus is heading. This will help you to plan and build resources for each lesson, knowing what key material students must understand before moving on. …

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