This year I am trying to get students to develop a deeper understanding of economic issues and to improve their evaluation skills for the written exam. The goal is that students will arrive at a collective meaning, rather than seek a “right” answer. Below is a plan of how you could structure the discussion.
Subject content – Economic schools of thought. Keynes v Hayek – this is part of Unit 9 of the CAIE A2 syllabus.
Content knowledge: Types of economies (left and right wing) covered at CAIE AS Level. The schools of thought are taught in class and questions (MCQ) and short answer are used to test student understanding of the characteristics of each. The two videos below are useful to consolidate knowledge.
Austrian economics and Keynesian economics explained in 1 minute. See below
Music (rap) video ‘Fear the boom and bust’ – Keynes v Hayek. See below
One of the challenges is to keep students on task and try and get contributions from all students. In order to overcome these issues I have developed a set of playing cards with certain statements on each. Students receive 8 playing cards with different assessment objectives/ skills/ elements of written work in economics – see photo. Students can only talk when they place a card on the table. Once a student has used up all their cards they can no longer contribute to the discussion. The link below has more detail on this method:
Tutorial preparation (outside the classroom)
Students read a media extract on the topic. Extract selection is important – not too long and must be easy to relate to core knowledge. I have picked the article by Larry Elliott in the Guardian newspaper as this is media that is different to what students tend to be exposed to.
‘Like COVID-19, capitalism has evolved a new variant to survive’ Larry Elliott
Number of students in a group is a determining factor – 8 to a group.
Tutorial/discussion over 2 periods
Opening question – essential that this is pitched at the level appropriate to the group as the intention is for the discussion to proceed through student interactions.
The new variant of capitalism should be the dominant policy option for governments.
If this is question doesn’t engage the students you could ask some of the following questions:
- Start off with a simple question that is referenced from the text – ‘What aspects of Keynesian economics are evident in the extract?’
- Allow each student to answer the opening question – 30 seconds. Other responses can spark conversation once everyone has replied.
- Get students to continually reference the text so to keep the conversation relevant
Coaching – there may be the need to encourage deeper and more critical thinking. Need to avoid teaching by offering analysis and possible evaluations. Some questions to encourage critical thinking:
- Why was the Keynesian variant relinquished in the 1970’s?
- How did the 2008 GFC influence government policy?
- Was austerity the answer to the issues caused by the GFC?
- How did COVID-19 impact policy for left right and centre governments?
Should allow students to respond from their own perspective but must be related to the extract.
Student reflection – the hope is that students are able to develop a deeper understanding of the complexities of the subject content and read newspaper/magazine articles with a more holistic view of the how an economy works. The level of scaffolding for reflection will vary with each student but there is potential for all students to feel more confident in their knowledge and participation in future discussions.
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