One of the things I love about both Economics and Business is the dynamic nature of the subjects. It’s simply impossible to teach the same lesson year-in-year-out because something is bound to have changed since last year – from a changing political landscape to a major retailer’s fall from grace.
News stories such as these have their influence on my lessons in a variety of ways. At a basic level, I will try whenever possible to refer to current government policies, real businesses that have hit the headlines, and real-life case studies in my lessons.
Sometimes it even seems as if the news agenda is working around my scheme of work! I have used Disneyland Paris as a case study for discussing costs, revenues, and profits with AS Business students since I studied my PGCE, but this year, the evening after this lesson, I was checking the news on Twitter and Disneyland had hit the headlines with a story of falling visitor numbers, significant losses, and a bail-out being needed from it’s US parent company. This enabled some fantastic discussions to take place in the subsequent lesson about Disneyland’s high fixed costs, the need for continual investment in such an industry, and its sources of finance.
The ever-changing state of the world economy also has a significant impact on my lessons. Recently I’ve been teaching my AS Economists about inflation, and the context of this for the UK has changed dramatically over the last year. In September 2013 it was 2.7% and the discussion centred around how this above-target inflation could potentially affect the UK economy, especially at a time when people’s incomes were fairly stagnant. We also discussed what was causing this inflation, namely rising commodity and food prices creating cost-push inflation. A year later, in September 2014, the rate had dropped to 1.7%, amid front-page headlines of falling petrol prices and the potential for deflation in the retail and food sectors. Suddenly, we were discussing why inflation was falling in the economy and whether it was demand or supply causing oil and many other commodities to drop in price.
The news isn’t just something that affects my lesson planning, though. I also expect all of my students to keep up to date with the latest Economics & Business news, whether this involves reading a newspaper, listening to the radio, or reading the news online. I have encouraged them to make use of the excellent BBC and Guardian websites, with their specialist Business and Economy sections, as well as Twitter of course. A lot of my own tweets consist of relevant news stories that they should be reading. I also use hashtags that link to each of the exam units that the students are studying – #econ2 for unit 2 economics, for example. I’m also planning to take this one step further with a new daily news question posted online at dizzledaily.sytes.net. Hopefully, this will be launching in January 2015, and I’ll be aiming to update it with a new question every evening. Any teachers who would like the login details for the ‘answer’ page, please get in touch.
My final reason for both encouraging students to read the news and for using it to influence the context of my lessons is to improve student’s preparation for their exams and their engagement in the lessons. In Economics, in particular, they will be given news articles and/or data about an aspect of the world economy. The more aware …
…article continues in the online magazine. See link below.
David Carpenter is a Teacher of Economics & Business at Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar School in south-east London. He can be found on Twitter @dizzleeducation. The online version of this article was originally published in 2015, and updated in 2020 in accordance with website and policy updates.