Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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The Economics Classroom
About the Workshops

Workshop Descriptions

1. How Economists Think
2. Why Markets Work
3. The Government's Hand
4. Learning, Earning, Saving
5. Trading Globally
6. The Building Blocks of Macroeconomics
7. Monetary and Fiscal Policy
8. Growth and Entrepreneurship

About the Teachers


Project Contributors

Production Credits

Site Map

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Workshop One: How Economists Think


everything has a cost
incentives matter
voluntary trade creates value

Economics can be broadly defined as how people react when pursuing their own interests in a situation of scarcity. This workshop shows how teachers introduce their students to the basic building blocks of economic thinking.

Elaine Schwartz and her class of senior girls at Kent Place School in Summit, New Jersey, explores how getting something of value always carries a cost, whether it is the time, effort or money needed to obtain the thing chosen or an opportunity foregone in making that choice. Students create a decision-making chart illustrating how choosing is also refusing, and how the formulation of public policy is also a process of making choices and facing trade-offs.

Steve Reich's students at Valhalla High School in Valhalla, New York, learn how incentives drive behavior by exploring how privately owned goods and services receive better care than publicly owned goods and facilities.

In the final segment, Denver, Colorado teacher Jay Grenawalt shows his students at George Washington High School how voluntary trade creates value through a classroom trading exercise.

Elaine Schwartz
Elaine Schwartz
Teachers' Thoughts
"When a student comes into the economics class at the beginning of the year she typically is expecting a class that looks at money and looks at the stock market and looks at all the traditional ideas that are connected with economics. And in many ways, yes, we'll touch that but I'd like to share with them a way of thinking - a way of looking at the world. And more than anything economics provides an outlook. And basic to that outlook is, in a world that has scarcity - that has limited quantities of things - we always have to make choices. We always have to make tradeoffs. And the idea of tradeoffs takes us to opportunity cost which takes us to the idea that for every decision we have to sacrifice an alternative."


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