Beyond the Lesson Plan: Developing a Global Dimension in Initial Teacher Education

Article excerpt

THE CONTEXT

At the Institute of Education, University of London, we train fifty to sixty business and economics teachers (known as Beginning Teachers, or BTs) each year. In applying Shon's (1983) notion of reflective practice we encourage these subject specialists to examine the role of economics and business in a wider context than they might have done previously. After all, every society has to deal with the problem of scarce resources, their distribution and exchange (Lawton, 1997) and, at its best, business and economics education (BEE) confronts these issues in an informed and critical way. This is something that tends to be denied to some other curriculum subjects that may not possess the conceptual armoury or theoretical framework required for deeper analysis.

Recent curriculum developments in economics and business require young people to do a great deal more than accept received wisdom on, for example, the behaviour of firms or the economic activities of governments. Students are now expected to question the aims and objectives of business organisations and governments and to extend their vision of business behaviour beyond the high street of small-town UK towards the global village, complete with its footloose multinational corporations, income disparities and environmental degradation.

In training BTs of business and economics, we at the Institute of Education regard as essential the opening up of our trainees' minds to the possibilities of exploring development issues, alongside the more routine but equally important task of providing a traditional subject-specific input. This approach not only provides them with starting points for integrating such issues into their subject teaching but also opens up possibilities for their making positive and creative contributions to wider aspects of the school curriculum.

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES AS A THEME OF THE BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS PGCE

This case study describes how we integrate wider global perspectives into the PGCE training year and reports on the success of the approaches used. Our aim is to make global perspectives an implicit and evolving theme of the course, and to this end we ensure that the techniques we use are integrated into the key teaching and learning methods in business and economics education. By the end of the BTs' training we would expect to have succeeded in:

* raising their awareness of global perspectives and issues;

* helping them to consider ways of integrating global perspectives and issues into the teaching of economics and business studies.

This case study will look in detail at how these aims are achieved through the course, using business case studies, educational visits and working with partners and schools.

CASE STUDIES IN BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS EDUCATION

Simulations have traditionally been used in business education to harness the learning power of the real world in the classroom setting (Whitehead, 1988). Case Studies in particular have become central, not only to pedagogy but also to assessment.

They provide an excellent vehicle for engaging students in the subject area via imaginary or real-life scenarios.

Appropriately designed cases will emphasise subject knowledge and understanding, but also allow for the development of a wide variety of skills such as those of analysis, application, creativity, communication and perception (Marcouse, 1994).The best cases operate at different levels, depending on the learning outcomes which are being targeted and the skills of the teacher.

One such is called 'The Doppler Effect'. The case is centred on a company that produces two goods, Doppler X and Doppler Y, the latter being a new and superior version of the earlier one. The firm is the market leader in Britain with Doppler X, which it also successfully exports to the USA. In the USA it is very much a price taker. Because of competition there, prices are generally much lower than in the UK market and consequently margins and profit levels are also lower. …

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