Strengthening economics education in Oklahoma's public schools
soon could produce a more literate group of voters and citizens who
can make better consumer choices.
That is the consensus of a small group of respected Oklahoma
While none of those interviewed during an informal telephone
survey would advocate mandatory economics education, all said such
courses would provide a long-lasting benefit to the state.
Although all were contacted separately, they were almost
unanimous in their belief that economic education should be
integrated into the core curriculum, adapting history, civics,
social sciences and even mathematics courses to include some study
They also were nearly unanimous in condemning "the appalling
lack of knowledge about economics" among adults. This lack of
knowledge has led Americans into some "not smart" political
decisions which could have been averted by a more economically
literate citizenship, they said.
Among the recommendations were:
Start children in early grades with some "fun type" projects,
such as learning about the banking system and writing checks.
Teaching economic theory such as how prices are determined in
a free-market society and the need for profit.
Develop specific economics courses for interested students
while at the same time adapting economics theory and problems into
Courses teaching simple economic theory, such as the laws of
supply and demand, should be offered in the junior high school
Develop a two-pronged approach so that there is an integrated,
graduated study of economics covering several years, letting
students have a better understanding of how economics affects
history, especially warfare.
Economics education should become a capstone upon which to
build other educational programs.
"Economic education can provide a way in which people can make
more reasonable decisions for the rest of their lives," said Dr.
Jean Caldwell, director of the Center for Economics Education at
the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.
"People who are college bound need to know something about
economics before they get there. If they don't, they're in trouble.
But people who are not going to college also need this information.
This will provide them with the knowledge of how to analyze where
the jobs are.
"Many people have no understanding of how to increase
productivity and how increased productivity improves the economy.
The mission of education should be to provide tools for getting and
holding adequate jobs. Knowledge is one of those tools and
knowledge of economics and how the market-system works is one of
the most important," she said.
Many political decisions are based upon a false knowledge, or
lack of understanding of economics, decisions which the general
public accepts without protest, Caldwell said. If the electorate
understood more about economics, they could better understand the
reason for political decisions and make their thoughts known to
Economic education should start in early years with more
emphasis on more difficult subjects on the junior high school
level, said Dr. Larkin Warner, regents professor of economics at
Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. …