What or How?

When writing lessons it is often difficult to decide on how to present the content. I do not know how education is organized in your school, not to mention in your country. Is economics part of the curriculum? If so, is it an elective or obligatory? What is the age of your students? Do you have access to the internet in your classroom? Do your students have access to the internet? Do you have the possibility to play a video in the classroom or do you have to book a video or a computer room? 

The result is that I am often weary when introducing internet resources. When Covid 19 hit the country I live in, Belgium, schools were closed and students had to take online lessons. It turned out that even in a developed country as Belgium, there were students who did not have access to the internet to do so. Therefore a campaign was launched inviting everybody to look in their cupboards and under their beds to find electronic devices – laptops, tablets – that were obsolete and gift these to the charity. Under normal circumstances these students would have access to the internet at their school or through the library.

But in some countries students do not have access at all or only to a limited amount because it is very costly. When the Rethinking Economics Festival Africa 2020 decided to go digital, they stumbled upon this very problem. Students would need to gain access through their phones and had to buy data to do so, since a landline connection is too costly for most students. The organisation raised enough money for the event to go ahead, although they did not make their target. It is likely, therefore, some students may have missed out.

This is just to illustrate differences within and between countries, and to remind myself of my own bias. We can discuss what should be included in a 21st economics education on this site – in general terms -, but can we discuss the how?

‘How’ is not just about the presentation of the content, like whether or not to include internet sources in the text. It also refers to the type of assignment(s) and their organisation. Do you prefer students to do their own research and write an essay about it or give a presentation? Would you rather give a classroom instruction and assign some homework for the students? Are there some subjects that require a classroom discussion in which you can go into more depth into the topic and have students do some reading in preparation? Or do you organise your lessons around the computer and have students walk through a guided lesson on their own, either at school or at home? And how will you be able to assess if students have learned what you had in mind?

These and many other considerations I am trying to make when I am writing lessons. What kind of assignments will I give the students? Will I have them draw something? Do I want them to participate in a class discussion? Do I want them to work in groups? Is this going to be homework or an in-class assignment? I would like to ask you, but I cannot. There are too many of you.

Therefore, we will bend our head around this and come up with some ideas of our own. How we think a subject is best presented to the class. And since you can read this we assume at least you have access to the internet.

henny@21steconomics.org – You can also find me on LinkedIn

Image by athree23 on Pixabay