Economics in the School Curriculum: Its Origins, and Reflections on the Workings of a Subject Community

By Jephcote, Martin | Teaching Business & Economics, Spring 2004 | Go to article overview

Economics in the School Curriculum: Its Origins, and Reflections on the Workings of a Subject Community


Jephcote, Martin, Teaching Business & Economics


INTRODUCTION

In the UK, economics as a school subject and its place in the school curriculum is very much under researched and, outside the circles of economics educators, little attention is given to it. It benefits from very little space in journals and even at major education conferences draws only limited interest. This is a pity, since the story of economics is not only interesting in its own right but is illuminative of the contest for the school curriculum as a whole.

From the outset, we should view the curriculum as 'a multi-faceted concept, constructed, negotiated and renegotiated at a variety of levels and in a variety of arenas' (Goodson, 1994, p. 111). This requires us to recognise that economics, like other subjects, has and continues to be contested although, at different times, there are different players operating for different reasons in order to promote different versions of the subject. We should recognise that what transpires as the subject curriculum at any point in time is not a matter of chance but the product of ongoing struggles. In turn, therefore, we need to be aware of those active in the shaping of a subject, their motives for action and the nature of disputes between them.

We also need to be aware of the ways in which control over the curriculum and the subjects it comprises has shifted away from Local Education Authorities (LEAs), teachers and subject associations to central government. It oversimplifies the story but the case was that at some time in the past subject communities (comprising a loose amalgamation of teachers, subject associations, LEA advisers, teacher educators, university academics and even HMI) worked proactively to shape the subject curriculum. Over time, as central government took control, subject communities were not only forced into a reactive mode but factions within them were forced to compete over ideology and resources. This was witnessed in attempts to broaden the definition of economics, to expand it to lower age groups and across the curriculum, and to fit it to the changing imperatives of the day, such as the need to prepare young people for the world of work. Overall, this worked to fracture and divide the community, ultimately making it vulnerable.

BACKGROUND AND OVERVIEW

Over the last thirty years economics education in secondary schools has taken a variety of forms. Economics has been taught as a standalone examination subject; in related subjects and courses such as business studies, geography and integrated humanities; through personal, social and career education programmes; and through other subjects via a process of subject permeation.

This variety has come about for a number of reasons. Like other subjects, economics has had to respond to external pressures and broader debates in the context of social, economic, political and educational change. For example, at different times, economics education has had to respond to the raising of the school leaving age, curriculum debate about a common or core curriculum, changes in assessment and examinations, attempts to vocationalise the curriculum and an emphasis on the world of work, the introduction (in England and Wales) of the National Curriculum, the introduction of GNVQs and Curriculum 2000. Consequentially, the content of economics courses and styles of teaching and learning have been subject to ongoing reexamination, and teaching materials adapted. Over this time, therefore, economics education may be regarded as an 'arena of conflict' (Bûcher and Strauss, 1961) in which the duality of pressures created by the need to be both reactive to external pressures and the desire to maintain a proactive stance require resolution.

THE GROWTH OF A SCHOOL SUBJECT

The 'conditions for action'

At the time of its introduction into schools, economics was an established university academic subject and restricted, in the main, to able, post-16 students. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Economics in the School Curriculum: Its Origins, and Reflections on the Workings of a Subject Community
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.