Global Economics

The International News Journal, Inc. —
National Council on Economic Education

AGallop poll conducted in 1992 indicated that the general public, high school seniors, and college seniors have many misunderstandings regarding the United States economic system and its role in the international economy. People vote on issues and elect government representatives based on their economic understandings or misunderstandings. By introducing economics in the K-12 classroom, we can increase economic understanding and correct misunderstandings thus promoting economic literacy among our future citizens.

Although there are many important economic concepts appropriate for the middle school classroom, current events regarding the European Community, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and related issues make understanding the economics of international trade particularly relevant.

An exciting way to help students in grades 5, 6, and 7 develop an understanding of these issues is to use Exploring the Marketplace Series, The International News Journal, Inc. This program involves students in the study of trade relationships between the United States and Japan, Brazil, Egypt, France, China, Mexico, and Kenya. The unit contains 34 lessons designed to stimulate students’ interest in global affairs and provide opportunities for students to view relationships between the economy of the United States and the economies of other countries around the world. For example, students analyze information regarding each country to determine resource endowments and usage, imported and exported products, and trading partners. Through a case study of the Hershey Kiss, students learn about resource usage, location theory, production, distribution, interdependence, and the benefits to trade. Students participate in simulations through which they discover the economic reasons for their own actions, for the actions of domestic and foreign business leaders, and the basis for specialization and trade among countries.

The International News Journal, Inc. integrates economics with reading, writing, mathematics, geography, and studies of cultures in Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Through this integration, students learn that economics is inseparable from their lives and from world events. Students become involved with the community in a joint entrepreneurial enterprise — writing, editing, illustrating, and publishing an international news journal.

Through this publication, students demonstrate their understanding of business, economics, and international trade as they research and write their articles, form a classroom corporation, and then market and sell their product to the community. Families and members of the business community are actively involved in the teaching-learning process. Through their experiences, students develop skills and knowledge that will enable them, as adults, to make informed decisions as workers, consumers, and citizens of the United States and the global community.

The International News Journal, Inc. is published by the National Council on Economic Education. For additional information, contact the National Council office, (212) 730-7007.

Contributed by Mary Suiter, Associate Director of the Center for Economic Education, University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis, MO.

Our World —
Junior Achievement, Inc

Junior Achievement Partnerships

A definition of society for today and the future must consider the global environment beyond a “western” context. A large part of the success of tomorrow’s society will be determined by the laws of economics (the laws of worldwide supply and demand, interest rates, exchange rates, transportability of labor forces and so on). Unless the United States competes well in this new world order, the quality of life that we share today, which has been eroded by the economic dynamics of the last decade or so, will accelerate. The students of our nation’s schools will determine in large measure whether or not the United States will play a premier role in the economic future of the world.

The Junior Achievement experience is one which allows teaching and business professionals to leverage their various strengths and capabilities toward building a strong economic future. Teachers are perhaps the best bridge that the business community has into the world of education and vice versa. Mortimer Adler has cautioned that if our original assumptions are wrong every other decision compounds the mistake. Therefore, we must not stereotype the education or business communities.

There are those who believe that the business community is not necessarily “the good guys (and gals).” There are people in the business community who believe that our public education system is ineffective. Neither of these attitudes is accurate nor constructive. Both must be successful and are necessary to each other. If we assume the business community is not driven largely by positive values and ethics, we will communicate that to our students. If business believes that our educational systems are ineffective, they will be unsupportive of the investments in capital and talent that we need for the future. With Junior Achievement partnerships, we have a chance to build the best of attitudes toward both worlds.

Contributed by Bob Patin, Chairman and CEO, Washington National Corporation, Lincolnshire, IL and a member of the Board of Directors, Junior Achievement of Chicago.

Our World

The Junior Achievement elementary school K-6 program corresponds to the expanding environments curriculum, and culminates with a sixth grade level Our World theme. At each of seven levels students experience five lessons led by trained community volunteers who also function as role models.

The mission of Junior Achievement is to “educate and inspire young people to value free enterprise, understand business and economics and be workforce ready.” The elementary curriculum is concerned with skill development (decision making and workforce-readiness skills) and the understanding of certain business and economic concepts. Goals specific to the Our World theme are:

• Develop student awareness of international trade and the difference between exports and imports.
• Increase students’ knowledge of key aspects of economies in various countries.

• Discover the benefits and complexities of international trade.

• Heighten student awareness of how each person contributes to a global economy. (Junior Achievement, 1993, p.2)

Activities involve students in examining their classroom for items imported from around the world, simulating international trade by acquiring all of the necessary pieces to complete a puzzle, simulating foreign exchange and bartering, comparing the imports and exports of selected countries, discussing the reasons for those specific exports and imports, and more. A chart defining key concepts and current world maps are included along with activity books, puzzles, pins and other materials.

The complexities of global economics are most apparent in the interdisciplinary follow-up applications. Following the five basic lessons, teachers can further integrate the follow-up activities across the curriculum.

Extended quotation from Junior Achievement, Inc. (1993). Our world, Program guide for consultants and teachers. Colorado Springs, CO, is used with permission of Junior Achievement, Inc.