Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Econ 101, Port-Style; Teachers Are Learning the Ins and Outs of the Port, So They Can Use It to Teach Economics

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Econ 101, Port-Style; Teachers Are Learning the Ins and Outs of the Port, So They Can Use It to Teach Economics

Article excerpt

Byline: TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS

Arnell Brown drives across the Dames Point bridge fairly often, casting an eye at the cargo operations dotting the riverbank and wondering what goes on there before heading off to his destination.

The students in Brown's Advanced Placement Economics class at Wolfson High School probably don't spend much time thinking about Jacksonville's marine industry, he figures. But that might change: This year, the thousands of high school students taking economics in Duval County Public Schools will use a curriculum based on Jacksonville Port Authority operations.

Brown's curiosity about the port's role in the local economy was assuaged earlier this week, when he and several dozen other teachers toured the Blount Island Marine Terminal, learning about the automobiles and containers shipped at the facility.

"The kids don't realize how integral Jacksonville is to the entire world," Brown said. "They think it's a small town. This gives us a lot of insight."

The teachers, many of whom were seeing the port operations for the first time, will use the swinging cranes and sweating longshoremen as object lessons in an economics curriculum designed to bring the realities of global trade home to Jacksonville students.

"I really had no idea what I was in store for," said Khaki Hager, a Mandarin Middle School teacher who plans on adding some of the curriculum to her eighth-grade history class.

As part of the class, she'll try to get the students on a tour of the port. "I think they'd be fascinated," she said. "I can just see their mouths wide open."

The curriculum, written by two local economics teachers, comes with five lessons, ranging from how the port operates to how economic concepts like derived demand and protectionism are illustrated through its operations. Two of the lessons, on derived demand and on how to find a job, are now required to be taught in all Duval County Public Schools economics classes.

"Kids are very good consumers," said Pat Curran, one of the authors of the curriculum, "but they don't realize what companies go through to get products to us. …

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